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Students handcuffed at elementary school

CNN | April 3 2004

SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Security guards at elementary schools in Kent, Washington, have used metal handcuffs to restrain unruly students at least four times during the current school year, officials said on Thursday.

The Kent School District, already facing discrimination lawsuits claiming security guards used excessive force in restraining teenage black students, said the handcuffs were used only to stop students from hurting themselves or others.

"We're a very large school district and we have children with behavioral challenges or other issues and that (handcuffs) is the last resort that an agent will take," district spokeswoman Becky Hanks told Reuters.

The incidents were first reported in Thursday's edition of the Seattle Times.

The four incidents in Kent elementary schools, which house 14,000 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, involved three students, two of them black.

Somewhere between 37 and 48 students have been handcuffed in the current school year in Kent, a Seattle suburb with a total school population of 26,500. White students make up 65 percent of the students while 10.4 percent are African-American.

"Our superintendent has made it real clear that there is going to be a review of the district's security operations by an independent investigatory panel," Hanks said,

Hanks declined to give details on the students involved, citing laws protecting children, but the Times described one as a 4 feet 10 inches (1.5 metres) tall boy weighing 80 pounds (36.4 kg).

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