Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Mom Says School Battered Her Little Boy

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A mother claims in court that the principal and assistant principal of her 7-year-old son's charter school tried to lock him in a closet for an "alleged behavior issue," and when he resisted, the assistant principal "struck him with a fly swatter and shoved him down," after which the tyke was handcuffed and arrested.

The mother, Chanell Thomas, sued the City of New Orleans, its Police Department, the Louisiana Recovery School District and its superintendent, the principal and assistant principal of the Fannie C. Williams Charter School, two school security officers and two police officers, in Federal Court.

According to its website:" The Recovery School District is a special school district administered by the Louisiana Department of Education. Created by legislation passed in 2003, the RSD is designed to take underperforming schools and transform them into successful places for children to learn."

But according to the mother's complaint: "On or about April 7, 2011, plaintiff, [D.] Thomas, was a special education student at Fannie C. Williams Charter School when principal Kelly Batiste and Tarynesa 'Terri' Williams attempted to lock him in a closet due to an alleged behavior issue. Mr. Thomas was terrified and tried to run from Batiste and Williams. [D.] Thomas tried to run from them and at this time knocked papers off of Batiste's desk. The assistant principal, Tarynesa 'Terri' Williams then struck him with a flyswatter and shoved him down. Batiste and Williams then instructed two school security officers, Officers Montgomery and Stewart, to hold [D.] Thomas down. (Four adults to hold down a seven year old child who weighed approximately 58 pounds). These action were taken despite the fact that these individuals knew or should have known that Thomas was easily frightened and did not like to be touched. The police were called and Officers Davis and John Doe were dispatched to the scene. Upon information and belief, Officers Davis and John Doe shoved down [D.] Thomas and held him with excessive force until defendant officers Davis and John Doe handcuffed him, with his hands behind his back. It is unclear how long petitioner remained in handcuffs, all of the while surrounded by a team of adults towering over him. Plaintiff Channell Thomas arrived at the school and was shocked to witness her child in handcuffs, with his hands behind his back. Thomas was prohibited from comforting her child and was not allowed in the room with [him]. Petitioner's aunt ... arrived at the school and was told to transport Mr. Thomas to Children's Hospital while Officer Brian Boyd followed behind in his vehicle. Upon arrival, Ms. Pierce and Mr. Thomas were instructed to relocate to Tulane Medical Center, where Mr. Thomas was evaluated for body aches and a psychological evaluation."

She seeks damages for her and her son, for battery, wrongful arrest, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, false imprisonment and civil conspiracy.

She is represented by John Redmann of Metairie.

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