Kindergartner leaves school after being handcuffed
ST. LOUIS - A kindergartner who was handcuffed after a principal
wanted to curb his unruly behavior has left the school.
Aroni Rucker said her son had trouble adjusting to his first year
of school, but she said the 5-year-old hadn't done anything to warrant
Now, she says the boy is afraid of what might happen at school.
"He doesn't want to go there. He's afraid he'll go to jail if he's
bad," she told The Associated Press.
Rucker said her son came home Nov. 30 complaining that his arms
were hurting. When she asked why, he said he had been "locked up."
Rucker believes her son was handcuffed twice.
Principal Sam Morgan of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter
school, acknowledged he had police officers handcuff the boy one time,
telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I'm trying to scare this kid straight.
I would not be doing my job if I were not trying to get him on the right
St. Louis police spokesman Richard Wilkes said the department was
looking into the incident. "Handcuffing 5-year-olds is not a practice of the
department," he added.
Morgan said he asked police officers walking through the school to
help him with the boy on one occasion. They drove the boy around the block
in the back of a squad car, Morgan said.
Morgan said the boy has gotten into trouble almost every day since
school started, for disobeying his teacher and fighting with pupils.
Rucker said Morgan told her the police talked to her son, and she
was supportive of efforts to improve his behavior, but she never would have
supported the handcuffing.
Rucker and Morgan don't agree about whether the boy was asked to
leave the school or whether she withdrew him. He has not attended the school
since last week. Rucker has also removed another son, a second-grader.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis announced in August that it
would end its sponsorship of Thurgood Marshall Academy, meaning the school
must find a new sponsor by June or close. A university report noted that
fiscal mismanagement, board corruption and high turnover have hurt the
Morgan, a longtime principal at East St. Louis High School in
Illinois who also worked for the Department of Corrections for eight years,
is in his second year at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
Morgan said he wanted to teach the boy a lesson and that he had
devoted more time to the pupil than to any others.
"I have this kid in my heart," he said, adding that he had walked
the halls with the boy and talked to him many times.
The children's godmother, Terreka Jones, who helps out with
dropping off and picking up the children, told the AP that school officials
hadn't said they regretted the decision. "That keeps me up at night," she