KEY POINTS

  • School authorities, cops accused of violating child's federally protected disability rights
  • ACLU wrote a letter to the Department of Education and Honolulu Police Department Tuesday
  • The 10-year-old girl was arrested on January 10, 2020 after another parent complained

    A 10-year-old Black girl with ADHD has been arrested at her elementary school in Hawaii after she drew an "offensive" picture of her alleged bully.

    Hawaii ACLU accused the Department of Education (DOE) and Honolulu Police Department (HPD) of discrimination and demanded change in their policies in the light of the incident that happened in 2020, according to a  letter released Tuesday.

    The 10-year-old girl identified as N.B was detained and questioned at Honowai Elementary School in Waipahu on January 10, 2020, without the presence of her parent. The police were called to the school after a parent was upset with her drawing and found it "offensive".

    The child was then handcuffed with excessive force and taken to the police station without probable cause, ACLU accused in the letter. 

    Tamara Taylor, the child's mother was called to the school saying that the school was thinking about calling the police. When Taylor arrived at the school, she was reportedly told the police were negotiating with the other parent involved. However, Taylor was not allowed to see her child and was also arrested at school, ACLU said.

    ACLU pointed out that the school was aware of the child's disability which was documented. They accused them of discrimination for calling the police for a run-of-a-mill school dispute involving a disabled child. ACLU claimed that the incident violated the child's constitutional rights and did not accommodate her federally protected disability.

    "Taylor and N.B. are both Black, and the outrageous and callous actions by school staff and HPD officers that day indicate that they were singled out and discriminated against on account of their race," the letter said.

    The child was reportedly released to her mother at the Pearl City Police Station after being in custody for nearly four hours, feeling hungry and exhausted.

    "After N.B.’s arrest, in addition to the trauma of being interrogated and arrested as a ten-year-old, she had to change schools before the end of the school year and eventually moved out of state without her mother, who remained in Hawaiʻi for a new job with the U.S. Department of Defense. To this day, both N.B. and Ms. Taylor remain traumatized by the actions of HPD officers and DOE staff," the letter said.

    “This is about a 10-year-old Black girl who was arrested and there was no reason to believe that she was violent. She didn’t bring any weapons to school, she didn’t make any explicit threats to anyone," Mateo Caballero, the family's attorney said, as reported by  Hawaii News Now.

    In the letter, ACLU put forth demands in policy changes from DOE and HPD including policies like forbidding staff to call the police unless an imminent threat of significant harm is presented.

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