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Federal Judge orders school district in Riverside County to change policing policies following arrest of disabled student

Moreno Valley schools to change policing policy after shocking arrest of disabled student
Moreno Valley schools to change policing policy after shocking arrest of disabled student 09:16

More than a year after a KCAL News investigation uncovered a shocking video of an 11-year-old black and disabled student taken down and handcuffed in the classroom, a federal judge has ruled that the Moreno Valley school district in Riverside County broke the law and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. A court-ordered policy change could have far-reaching implications for schools nationwide.

The incident occurred at Landmark Middle School when Riverside County deputies were called to handle an 11-year-old student referred to as CB, who refused to go to the principal's office. The ensuing struggle, lasting six minutes, resulted in CB being handcuffed and detained. The video footage, initially shared by KCAL News, triggered a public outcry and calls for action.

The family filed a lawsuit against the school district and the former superintendent, alleging excessive force, battery, assault, and negligence. The family argued that the presence of police in schools disproportionately affected students with disabilities and black students. 

In California, data shows that police are four times more likely to arrest black students and nearly two times more likely to arrest Hispanic students. Additionally, students with disabilities were 8.9 times more likely to be restrained.

The federal court concluded that the district's actions violated the rights of students with disabilities. The judge ordered the Moreno Valley Unified School District to collaborate with the family's attorney to develop new policies and procedures aimed at preventing such incidents in the future.

The court-mandated changes in Riverside County's policing policies could serve as a precedent for schools across the country. The case has shed light on broader issues surrounding the treatment of students with disabilities and minority students in the education system.

Despite the sheriff's insistence that they would not settle the case, Riverside County has agreed to a settlement, signaling a potential shift in accountability for law enforcement in schools. The settlement agreement is pending court approval, and a tentative agreement with the school district is also in progress.

This landmark decision is the first of its kind in the country to limit how police can act in schools under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the legal proceedings continue, many are hopeful that the changes mandated by the court will lead to a safer and more equitable educational environment for students across the nation.

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