CHICAGO – The mother of a Chicago Public Schools elementary student is suing the school district after she claims her daughter was traumatized by a school resource officer who handcuffed the girl and left her in a dark stairwell.
Marlena Wordlow contends a CPS security officer at Fernwood Elementary school in March handcuffed first-grader Madisyn Moore and left her under the stairs for more than an hour as punishment for stealing a piece of candy, WLS-TV reports.
She was under the stairs, handcuffed, in the school, by the boilers,” Wordlow told the news site. “You can’t treat children like that.”
CPS officials told The Associated Press they fired the security officer and put a “do not hire” note in his personnel file.
But Wordlow said the damage is already done – Moore is scared of the dark and police officers, she said – and the frustrated mother filed a lawsuit against the district Thursday alleging excessive force, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the security guard.
Madisyn Moore spoke with NBC Chicago about the incident back in March.
“They hurted,” she said of the handcuffs. “He snatched me out of my class. H made me get out in my handcuffs.”
Wordlaw told the news site she was livid when she arrived at school to find her daughter sobbing under the stairs.
“I said ‘why do you have my baby in cuffs?’ He said, ‘because I’m trying to teach them to stop taking stuff that doesn’t belong to them,’” Wordlaw said.
“When he pulled her form under the stairs she was crying,” she continued. “He told me, ‘I’m doing my job, I’m trying to teach her a lesson.’”
Wordlaw told WLS she’s not trying to teach the school district a lesson.
“It’s not about the lawsuit, it’s about letting people know you can’t treat children like that,” she said. “She’s only six.”
“I can’t imagine where anybody working in a school would ever conceive that this is an appropriate way to behave, an appropriate way to discipline a child,” said Wordlaw’s attorney, Jeffrey Granich.
Wordlaw said she removed Moore from the school after the incident, but CPS hasn’t been much help with finding a new school.
District officials issued a prepared statement about the lawsuit Wednesday night.
“The safety and well-being of our students is vitally important to the district, and we take these allegations seriously. Once the incident came to light, the district immediately took the appropriate steps to address this situation and ensure our students’ safety.”