An attorney for a family whose son was physically restrained by Brentwood school personnel in 2014 said a video of the incident released Friday shows the district intentionally misled state investigators looking into the altercation.
Kenneth Mollins of Hauppauge said Friday that Brentwood school officials should remove staff associated with the incident that occurred Oct. 31, 2014, at the district’s Freshman Center.
In a statement released Friday, the Brentwood Union Free School District said there was no cover-up and that “the safety and welfare of our students is paramount to our district. As as result, this incident was given top priority.”
“The district implemented corrective action. In this case, training was conducted for district staff members who may be called upon to implement emergency intervention procedures,” the district statement says.
Mollins had filed a complaint with the New York Department of Education. State officials investigated in 2015 and sustained his allegation that school personnel physically restrained the student when he violated the school’s code of conduct. They cited Brentwood, saying the district must improve staff training in emergencies.
In their response to state education officials, the Brentwood district reported that a teacher asked the then-14-year-old special education student to change direction in the hallway and the student failed to comply. The papers do not identify the teacher.
The district reported to New York investigators, according to state papers, that the student struck the teacher in the abdomen and shoulder and the student shoved the teacher. The district reported the student became uncontrollable. School security placed the student on the ground and handcuffed him, the state papers say.
The video shows the student walking down the hallway in one direction while groups of students walk in the other direction. An adult in an orange shirt stops the student and pushes him to the side of the hallway between a wall and a locker as the other students continue to walk the hallway. The student braces himself against the wall and his books fall to the floor. The adult physically pulls him down the hallway. The incident lasted 26 seconds.
“I believe that release of this video should spur community outrage and the demand the teacher and the principal be removed because they covered up facts that a student was assaulted,” Mollins said.
Mollins, who recently received the video anonymously, said the student’s parents declined to comment. No lawsuit has been filed.
“This teacher came out of nowhere and pummeled this kid,” Mollins said Friday. “I showed his parents the video and his mother totally broke down crying.”
The findings from the New York Department of Education dated April 1, 2015, according to the paperwork, state: “Emergency interventions shall be used only in situations in which alternative procedures and methods not involving the use of physical force cannot reasonably be employed.”
“The district perceived the situation as requiring an emergency intervention. Regulations do not prohibit the use of physical force when the student or others are at risk of injury. However, the staff involved in the restraint of the student were not trained on the safe and effective use of restraint and the staff failed to use the restraints on which the staff had been trained,” the paperwork says.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of Hauppauge attorney Kenneth Mollins.