Joint Statement: Walpole and Civil Rights Advocates

Education, Racial Justice

Joint Statement from The Town of Walpole and Civil Rights Advocates

Stemming from an incident that occurred several months ago, the Town of Walpole and Civil Rights Advocates worked together and are pleased to announce that they have resolved the matter amicably. Town legal counsel, attorneys from Lawyers for Civil Rights, and pro bono attorneys from Anderson Kreiger, LLP also assisted in the resolution.

The incident involved a nine-year-old special needs student of color who became dysregulated in school. During this very difficult situation, de-escalation techniques were attempted by school and police personnel, but were unsuccessful. After approximately one hour, Walpole Police handcuffed the student with his hands in front of his body and he was transported to a hospital. The family, through counsel, issued a demand letter to address his treatment. 

The Town of Walpole has issued the following apology to the student and his family:

“[A]s you know, on January 12, 2023, Town employees were requested to respond to the Elm Street School for an ongoing situation involving your son. During the course of what we believe we all agree was a very difficult situation, many de-escalation techniques were used. However, when those techniques were unsuccessful, your son was handcuffed in the front of his body. We regret this outcome and want you to know that while we always seek new training and we endeavor to be the best we can be, sometimes experience reveals areas where we can and should improve. The incident involving your son is one of these situations. While we sincerely apologize for this outcome, we are implementing additional training so that our officers will be in the best position to handle any future situation.”

The training mentioned will include two in-person sessions for all Walpole Police personnel on the subjects of implicit bias and mental health, which will take place within one year’s time.

End of Joint Statement

“We are confident that this settlement will improve the lives of children living with disabilities in the Walpole community and we hope that other districts in the Commonwealth will heed the message that policing in schools needs to be handled in a manner that is consistent with the law,” said Erika Richmond, an attorney for the family with Lawyers for Civil Rights

Matthew Bowser, an Associate Attorney with Anderson Kreiger LLP adds, “ensuring that school resource officers and other police personnel are adequately trained to interact with students  with disabilities is critical to ensure compliance with state laws.” 

No additional comment is available at this time.