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School administrator under fire for restraining student in Arizona

Video captured footage of the incident at Vista Del Sur Accelerated Academy.
School administrator under fire for restraining student in Arizona
Posted at 8:39 AM, Aug 20, 2023

A school administrator in Arizona is under fire after an incident involving an elementary school student.

The Laveen Elementary School District confirmed there is an open police investigation.

"We need some change. I demand that you get somebody who cares up in here," said Danielle Jordan, the mother of the child reportedly involved in the incident, during a press conference on Thursday when she told her side of the story.

The incident was caught on surveillance camera, showing a 10-year-old student at Vista Del Sur Accelerated Academy and a now former Laveen Elementary School District administrator.

"As he entered into that office, he got pulled by his clothes, choked with his shirt. Then she slammed him up against the wall," said Jordan.

The district provided a different narrative Thursday, calling it an "improper restraint" when the administrator grabbed the boy's arm and shoulder. In a press release, they said the administrator was asked to come to the school to help with the student and while he was being escorted to the in-school detention room, the administrator thought the student was trying to leave campus. The governing board addressed the incident during their board meeting Thursday evening.

"We acknowledge that the holds used in the video are not appropriate and we do not condone such conduct. Our staff members undergo training for holds and will continue to undergo training," said Jill Barragan, a Laveen Elementary School District governing board member.

They then allowed for public comment, which broke out in some chanting as many parents were wanting to give their two-minute speaking time to the boy's mother.

"Let her speak," chanted the crowd.

The governing board met with its attorney and ultimately gave her 30 minutes to speak.

"What hurts is that you didn't take the time to call me; you didn't take the time to apologize," said Jordan.

The district said they tried repeatedly to meet with the parent through her attorney and community advocate to seek a resolution. We're told the Phoenix Police Department is still investigating the matter with staff participating in interviews this past week.

"Throughout this process, we have maintained open lines of communication with the family... and we want to emphasize that the employee is no longer with the district," said Barragan.

But, according to the boy's mother, she's just finding that out.

"Just now, formally, just now," said Jordan.

She says that's her motivation for speaking out — and for change.

"I want a policy change. I want case managers in the schools and counselors as opposed to police officers. I want mandates for training," said Jordan.

The student now goes to a different school. We attempted to ask the superintendent questions but he directed us to the communications director who only referred us to the press release. Another board member did speak out.

"I'm not feeling too good about it. But again, I don't know that, you know, we see a video, we don't hear any audio, we don't hear a lot of backstory. We, like I said, as a board member, I'm going to look at the whole picture and do what's best for our kids," said Dr. Torrence Watkins, a Laveen Elementary School District governing board member.

This story was originally published by Ashley Paredez at Scripps News Phoenix.

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