A mother in Florida is livid after police arrested her 10-year-old autistic child on school property. The incident, in which the boy was handcuffed and led off of school grounds, was recorded on video.
According to the sheriff’s office in Okeechobee, John Benjamin Haygood was arrested April 12 for felony battery against a school board authority. According to CBS, the boy subsequently spent time in juvenile detention.
Video of the arrest was posted online by the child’s mother, Luanne Haygood. The mother said that the incident was related to a December 2016 issue in which Haygood kicked a paraprofessional at Okeechobee Alternative Academy.
That occurrence allegedly left the worker with scratches and other marks.
“He didn’t feel good with a paraprofessional,” Haygood said. “He told me that and I told him you got to go back to school. He said, ‘I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t like him. I don’t like him. He hurts me.’”
Haygood, who was already expelled from school in October, returned last week for the first time in months to complete state testing. Upon his arrival, a school resource officer recognized him and confirmed he still had an outstanding warrant for the assault incident.
“I asked, ‘Are you going to arrest him right now?’ She said, ‘Yes ma’am, we have to,’” Luanne said.
John said what happened to him was “horrible.”
“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
The mother said that she has asked the school district for help in dealing with children like her son.
“If I let my emotions go, I’m going to lose it. I’m going to cry, cuss, rant and rave. Nobody will listen to me. ‘Oh, that’s the crazy lady’ or whatever,” Haygood said. “I want something done. I want other kids to not have to go through this.”
The district released a statement that said it did not set out to arrest John, but made no apologies for what happened.
“The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists,” the statement said. “As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.”
The district said it could not provide more information about the incident because of school privacy laws.
“It is our hope,” the statement said, “that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically.”
The child has a court date scheduled for May.