School to Jail Pipeline for Disabled Kids?

     ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – Albuquerque police jailed a middle school special ed student twice because they thought it better to jail disabled kids to than leave them in school, the teenager claims in court.
     Sidney Summers, now 18, sued the Albuquerque Police Department and Sgt. Michael Archibeque in Bernalillo County Court, citing two incidents from 2009, when Summers was 12 years old.
     Summers claims his arrests and jailings exemplified a culture of discrimination against special education students under Archibeque, who supervised Albuquerque’s school resource officers at the time. Archibeque is the only individual defendant.
     In his June 10 lawsuit, Summers says he was arrested for childhood temper outbursts in which no one was injured.
     On April 9, 2009 he kicked a trash can after his teacher told him he couldn’t take his milk to the library. The trash can rolled across the floor and bumped the teacher’s leg. She was not hurt and did not press charges, but “Officer Hensley” handcuffed and arrested him for assault and battery and interfering with a public official and took him to the juvenile detention center.
     Summers already had been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed, and in January that year, Hensley had been called when another student – who was not special ed, and was not arrested – beat Summers in school, according to the lawsuit.
     In November 2009, Summers poured milk on a student who had called him names, and Henley arrested and handcuffed him again and took him back to juvenile hall.
     Summers claims he was arrested because Archibeque, the sergeant for all Albuquerque police officers, “believed the ‘right thing to do’ was to send the disabled children to jail rather than allowing the school to handle the child administratively,” the complaint states.
     Summers claims Albuquerque school resource officers under Archibeque had an unwritten policy to put students with emotional or mental disabilities into the jail system.
     In a 2014 deposition that Summers’s attorney provided to Courthouse News, Archibeque said that “students with mental disabilities, learning disabilities … they would go and they’d commit a lot of crimes. They would hit teachers, hit students, and in my opinion most students should [not] have to feel in fear of being battered by another student, just because they have a disability.”
     Archibeque said that school principals didn’t always “do the right thing” when it came to students with mental or emotional disabilities.
     Albuquerque police said they do not comment on active litigation.
     Summers seeks damages for battery, false imprisonment, discrimination and negligent training and supervision.
     He is represented by Theresa Hacsi with Kennedy Kennedy & Ives.
     The so-called “prison to prison pipeline” has become the subject of increased criticism and litigation, particularly in the South. Schools and police have been accused of targeting poor and minority children for criminalization.

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