Last Updated on October 28, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
As a California Student Lawyer, I have heard horror stories since I started helping parents and students in the mid 1990s. Sadly, the story of five year old Michael Davis, a student of Stockton Unified School District, is nothing unusual. It is again, a wake up call for parents.
From what I can gather from internet reports (KCRA, Newsone), Michael is a 5 year old student who allegedly gets in fights and is a behavior problem at school. The first thing here is HE IS 5 YEARS OLD. There is no legal obligation to put your kids in school until they turn six years old. A student who can’t sit still, who fights, etc. may just be a rambunctious student and not ready for the controlling environment that the public schools have turned out to be. Also, sometimes five year old students can simply be wild and enthusiastic in a physical or distracting way. It was not until the public schools came into the picture that this became a disease.
Additionally, the student’s mother states in her KCRA interview that she had asked for special help for some time and was denied behavior support and other services due to money. Item number 2: you cannot deny a student with a qualifying handicapping condition (Michael is alleged to have ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) the support services which are needed to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (aka FAPE) based on money. He likely qualified for special education under the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI) which opened the door for special education and support services. Sadly, unless he was designated with a “disability,” this student could not obtain student support services which is an issue in and of itself, but I digress.
Next, the school gets the bright idea to have the school cop talk to Michael to “scare him straight.” Mom apparently knew about this unwise student talk in advance. Item 3: bad idea to try to make a 5 year old student become scared straight. This is not a good idea- he was five. Jail is a vague concept at best at five and really, could you lock a five year old student up in jail anyway? No.
When the cop went to touch Michael, Michael allegedly batted his hand away, kicked him, and pushed papers around. Now, parents of five year olds, is this really that unusual? What about stranger danger!? I teach my kids the danger of strangers and would not want them to allow any stranger to put their hands on them. I would actually have them try to get away. Of course, the fact this was a “cop” in uniform was supposed to make legitimate feelings of fear irrelevant, but I doubt that eased little Michael’s mind much.
Next, the cop allegedly zip tied this kid for approximately 2 hours (according to his mother), and took him to a psychiatric facility to be evaluated. Hmmmmmmm…… that’s one really bad way to get a student evaluated without parental consent. Yes, if a student is a danger to self or others, they CAN do this, but was this really reasonable? Had a behavior support plan or behavior intervention plan been in place, or had the cop backed off when his “scared straight” approach obviously failed, Michael could have calmed down and gotten back to his schoolwork.
Long story short, Michael was cited by a cop (at five years old!) and later retrieved from the psychiatric hospital. The charge was later dismissed (thank you your honor!).
This sounds like fiction, but is a reminder to parents: THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILD. DO NOT BE COMPLACENT ABOUT THE SCHOOLS. How would you like your kid carted off to a psychiatric ward when a cop touches them and they react in fear? How would you like your son or daughter to be tied up by the cops because they would not behave in the institution that is our public schools? I would not, and do not like it. Parents may want to investigate student placements other than the public schools for their kids, such as home school, as the public schools when it really comes down to it, are not safe at all. Just ask little Michael Davis how safe they are.
Student rights lawyer Michelle Ball advocates for parents whose children are bullied and targeted with inappropriate psychiatric holds. As a student expulsion, special education and student rights attorney in Sacramento California, Michelle Ball may get involved in student problems statewide, in all counties, such as Placer, Humboldt, Orange, Stanislaus, Marin, Solano, Yuba, Kern , Los Angeles and many other locations.
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Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.