Current News Stories

How to Stop the School–> Prison –> Pipeline

Too many students are being diverted from school into the criminal justice system

The school-to-prison pipeline “is one of our nation’s most formidable challenges,” states the report. “It arises from low expectations; low academic achievement; incorrect referral or categorization in special education; and overly harsh discipline, including suspension, expulsion, referral to law enforcement, arrest and treatment in the juvenile justice system.” And, the report notes, “Throughout these causes runs evidence of implicitly biased discretionary decisions, which, unintentionally, bring about these results.”

What the report fails to mention is that the causes are not generally biased discretionary decisions, but policies imposed on schools by legislators, regulators and school boards.  There has been a movement across the country that takes the authority away from individual schools.  Individual schools often no longer have the authority to make discipline, safety, educational or treatment decisions as their discretion has been usurped by policy makers and people removed from the classroom.

The result, while, perhaps, unintentional, was absolutely foreseeable.

When you take the authority and ability to maintain a safe and effective educational environment away from the school and educators, and place the authority in the hands of law enforcement, there will be a rise in the number of students entering the school–> to –> prison pipeline. 

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HWC in the News: School Security Prepares to Handle Crisis Situations with Care

How to handle crisis situations with care: That is what the security team at the Monticello Central School District will soon be learning. Time Warner Cable News’ Jackson Wang has more on the training program.

MONTICELLO, N.Y. — Every day, disputes, disagreements, and conflicts are bound to develop between students in a school. While most are harmless, school officials are concerned about the few that get verbally or physically violent.

“You never can tell these days where a threat may come from,” said Tammy Mangus, Monticello School District superintendent.

To be prepared, the district will soon be training its security team on how to handle disruptive situations and prevent them from escalating.

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Restraint in School – what the law says.

The press is finally starting to report the actual law governing restraint use.   This is a breath of fresh air.  In the past the press has lied to the public reporting that many or most states have no laws on the use of restraint.  A statement which is entirely false, as every state has laws on the use of restraint either in their Constitution, case law or statute.

Handle With Care has been disseminating the law on restraint since 1999 when we presented in front of the Attorney General for the State of Virginia, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, a stream of advocate attorneys, newspaper reporters, and many other high powered persons.

Every person at our initial presentation agreed with our legal analysis.

Since that time we have disseminated the laws governing restraint to agencies and schools across the country.  To every Federal legislator and the vast majority of State Legislators.

We are very proud that unlike the press, advocates, political hacks, and unelected bureaucrats running government agencies, we stood our ground, disseminated the law, and educated schools and other organizations about the law and their rights under the law.

The article appeared in a U.K. publication – Schools Week, and was written by an attorney.  Here’s what she says:

“A member of staff may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from committing an offence, causing injury to a person or themselves, causing damage to property or prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline.”

U.S. law is the  the same.

All we can say is, it is about time the press is starting to get it right.

Restraint in school – what the law says

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Virginia. Schools drafting their own restraint policy and totally disregarding the inane law their legislators passed in March

In March 2015 the Virginia State Legislature passed a bill stating that schools could not physically intervene unless a student was in danger of serious bodily harm.  “Serious Bodily Harm” has a widely understood legal definition that includes the amputation of limbs, the loss of an eye or permanent disfigurement.

At the time this bill was being passed, we sent out correspondence and comments informing the legislature and schools that the bill was illegal as it violated a person’s inherent and unwaivable right to defend self and others by all reasonable means.

According to this article, schools are drafting policy in accordance with actual law and disregarding the bills the Virginia legislature just passed.


For instance, Williamsburg-James City County schools are considering a policy outlining how and when trained teachers, faculty and staff can restrain or separate a child to keep the student from hurting themselves or others.  An intervention threshold much lower than the one mandated by their legislature.


Instead of following the new restraint bill the legislature passed, schools are instead relying on Virginia Statute 22.1-279.1 that allows the use of physical intervention to maintain a safe educational environment.

Schools and educators should not have to wait until a student risks “physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death; extreme physical pain; or that causes protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, mental faculty or organ” before intervening.

HWC fully supports theses schools.  We commend them for having the sense and fortitude to stand up and do what is morally and legally right.

Full Story at:

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What happens when school policy prevents teachers from stopping fights: Indiana case study


A girl was attached at an Indianapolis Public School: Northwest Community High School by a male student claiming he was bullied.

A cell phone video captured a violent fight involving a male student viciously beating a girl while a teacher watches. The beating continues for under a minute, with the male student pulling the girl’s hair, throwing her to the floor and repeatedly hitting her in the face.  Students (not adults) stop in to stop the attack.

The brutal fight, recorded on video, was in the school hallway Tuesday. Students say it was just one of seven fights at school that day.

That video shows a staff member, there when the fight started, scream at the students to stop.  The teacher never intervenes physically because, according to Indiana Public School (“IPS”) policy, staffers are not allowed to put their hands on students.

Full Story

Social Media and Parent Outrage after press reported the attack


After the press reported on the attack and lack of teacher intervention, there was a public outcry in the press, social media and the community about school policy.

IPS’s Policy Preventing Teachers from Intervening is unlawful, against public policy and can get the school sued

  • Schools cannot legally discipline or fire educators or any employee for acting in a manner consistent with state self defense and defense of others law.  If a teacher defies school policy and physically intervenes in a manner consistent with state self defense law, and the school tries to discipline or fire the teacher, the school can be sued as this is a violation of the teacher’s right to defend self, others and property.  The disciplinary action is a tort and violation of the employee’s civil rights.
  • If a teacher follows school policy and a student is hurt, the school can be liable for failure to protect.
  • Schools have a duty to protect and maintain a safe educational environment. Schools have a “special relationship” with students and act“in loco parentis” for students in matters relating to school safety, education and discipline. Ingram v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651 (1977).  Thus the duty to protect and provide education rests with the school.  A policy that interferes with this obligation and fails to protect students breaches this duty.
  • Schools have a duty to train staff in foreseeable events.  Schools fights are foreseeable.  Failure to intervene in a manner that is effective to prevent or mitigate bodily injury is a tort and a breach of the school’s duty.  Either the school needs to train its teachers or it needs to have on-site personnel that is trained to intervene.  If it was not for the students in this instance, if the girl was hurt and the fight not broken up, the school would have been sued.  Failure of the adult to intervene was an abdication of adult responsibility.
  • Indiana law regarding restraint and seclusion in schools states that schools are required to train staff in the “safe use of physical restraint…”  The law also provides that “Nothing in this chapter may be construed to prevent a school employee from stopping a physical altercation, acting to prevent physical harm to a student or another individual, or acting to address an emergency… whether or not the school employee has received training under this chapter.
  • IPS schools and staff are not immune from suit if they follow a hands off policy.  Under Indiana law schools and school personnel have qualified immunity with respect to the adoption of an intervention/restraint plan in accordance with this law.  IPS’ school policy preventing teachers from physically intervening to prevent physical harm to a student or others is in direct conflict with Indiana law, and is outside the qualified immunity provided under this statute.  This means that IPS schools and employees are not immune if they follow IPS’s policy rather than State law.

See IC 35-41-3-2: Indiana defense of self, others and property laws; IC 20-33-8-8 through 20-33-8-11: Indiana Tort Law and In loco parentis

HWC’s Suggestion:

HWC cannot offer  legal advice.  We would suggest that when schools encounter conflicting laws or policies that they solicit the advice of Counsel licensed to practice in their State.  As an example, in light of Indiana’s self-defense and restraint laws, it does not appear that schools can tell teachers not to intervene when a person’s physical safety is at risk. Doing so would be a violation of the teacher’s natural and civil right to defense of self and others as codified in Indiana’s law, Indiana’s State and Federal Constitution and the Supreme Court.  Defense of self and others are non-waivable rights.  Further, Indiana’s restraint law specifically gives teachers the express ability to physically intervene when a person is in imminent danger of bodily injury.

School policies cannot contradict State law or Constitutional rights.

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