Sheriff’s deputies and police officers have long been a presence in schools, in case things get out of hand. Recently, school administrators and resource officers have taken things a bit further, conducting so-called “scared straight” programs under which misbehaving students are exposed to jails or prisons as an effort to convince them to change their ways.
Beyond being ineffective and often backfiring, such tactics can be illegal or unconstitutional. Such was the case when a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy arrested seven middle school girls for being uncooperative during a bullying investigation to “prove a point” and “make (them) mature a lot faster.”
Not “Playing Around”
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has a succinct rundown of what happened at Etiwanda Intermediate School in Rancho Cucamonga, California:
On October 8, 2013, a group of seventh grade girls (twelve and thirteen year-olds) were handcuffed, arrested, and transported in police vehicles from their middle school campus to the police station. An assistant principal had asked a school resource officer, Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Ortiz, to counsel a group of girls who had been involved in ongoing incidents of bullying and fighting. School officials gathered the girls in a classroom to wait for Deputy Ortiz. The group included both aggressors and victims, and the school did not identify or separate them. When he arrived on campus, Deputy Ortiz initially intended to verify the information the school had given him and to mediate the conflict. Within minutes, however, Deputy Ortiz concluded that the girls were being unresponsive and disrespectful. He decided to arrest the girls because, as he explained to them, he was not “playing around” and taking them to jail was the easiest way to “prove a point” and “make [them] mature a lot faster.” Deputy Ortiz stated that he did not care “who [was] at fault, who did what” because “it [was] the same, same ticket, same pair of handcuffs.”
The only problem for Deputy Ortiz? The unlawful arrest violated state laws and the Fourth Amendment.
Cannot Be Justified
“The synopsis capture, cuffing, and police transport to the station of the center school young ladies was a lopsided reaction to the school’s need, which was scattering of what the school authorities described as an ‘progressing fight’ and ‘ceaseless contention’ between the understudies,” Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen composed. “No sensible official might have sensibly accepted that the law approves the capture of a gathering of center schoolers to show them a thing or two or to make a statement.”
No criminal accusations against the young ladies were recorded, and they were not focused by the school. “The capture of a center schooler,” the Ninth Circuit chose, “can’t be legitimized as a panic strategy, an exercise in development, or a reprimand for apparent lack of respect.” The assessment maintains a lower court administering conceding the guardians of the captured young ladies rundown judgment in their claim against Ortiz, the school locale, and the area. The guardians are requesting $10 million in harms.
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