Injured Purdy student incident under review

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Amy Liggett of Purdy recently posted this photo of her 9-year-old son, Kaden, on her Facebook page. Liggett says Kaden suffered the injury while being restrained by a school counselor.

Report expected to be given at May school board meeting

School officials at the Purdy School District are reviewing policies and procedures for staffers having to implement disciplinary measures toward students.

In the aftermath of a child allegedly receiving injuries when a school counselor attempted to restrain him, the boy's mother, Amy Liggett, took to social media with the story.

There, Liggett claimed her son sustained injuries including a rug burn over a large portion of his left forehead and cheek, bruised gums and a bruise on his ear while being restrained.

Steven Chancellor, Purdy superintendent, acknowledged the incident, alluding to injury, which appeared to be a rug burn, based on photos posted on social media.

The district's policy mandates that anyone injured on district property receive some sort of medical assistance and the incident be documented.

"For students, staffers and guests that become injured here, we are required to give medical aid or call 911," Chancellor said. "In this instance, we did not call 911."

School officials, however, are conducting a review to determine if proper procedures were followed in the restraint process.

The district's written restraint policy, obtained by the Cassville Democrat through a Missouri Sunshine Law request, states that restraint is only used in three circumstances: An emergency situation, when less restrictive measures have not effectively de-escalated a situation; and when a parent specifically agrees, through a parenting plan or independently, to the use of restraint to address a student's behavior.

Only school officials trained in the use of restraint are allowed to utilize the protocol when necessary.

The restraint policy also states that the use of restraints will be only as long as necessary to resolve the actual risk of danger or harm that warranted the use of restraint; that the degree of force to be used in no more than necessary to protect the student of other persons from imminent bodily harm; and that no use of pressure or weight be used on the chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, neck or throat of the student which might restrict breathing.

"I can't speak to the issue at this time because it is under review," Chancellor said. "My guess is that we will have a report at the next board meeting and discuss the matter then."

The next regular meeting will be on May 19.

"[The counselor is] at work, functioning as a counselor," Chancellor said on April 30. "He was not asked to leave."

The school also requested an investigation and follow-up report from Police Chief Jackie Lowe, who also serves as the district's school resource officer.

"I'm in the process of collecting witness statements," Lowe said. "Those include statements from school personnel who saw the incident, along with a case worker from Clark Community Mental Health Center who had been called to the school."

This is not the first time school and law enforcement have had dealings with the family, Lowe said. According to Lowe, the boy's mother had called law enforcement officials on at least one previous occasion when the boy refused to go to school and injured her arm.

At that time, she requested he be placed in a juvenile facility by law enforcement officials, who did not have the authority to do so, Lowe said. In her report to Lowe, Liggett indicated she feared her son would cause her serious harm.

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