ACLU, mother call for changes after 10-year-old girl handcuffed, arrested at Hawaii school over drawing

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is calling for changes to school disciplinary procedures after a 10-year-old Black girl was handcuffed and arrested at school over a drawing.

In a letter to the Honolulu Police Department, the State Department of Education and the state attorney general's office, the ACLU has asked them to adopt a number of policy changes to the manner in which police and educators work together and to parent's rights while children are in school. 

They also are requesting to expunge all records of the arrest and have $500,000 in damages paid to the family for "harm and suffering" caused by their agencies.

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In January 2020, Honolulu police were called to Honolulu Elementary School after a parent complained about an "offensive sketch" by a young student only identified as N.B.

According to her mother Tamara Taylor, she was then "handcuffed in front of her classmates, placed in a patrol car and taken to the station."

The ACLU also elaborated on the incident and said that the girl had “allegedly participated in drawing an offensive sketch of a student in response to that student bullying her.”

One of the changes being demanded by the ACLU is that they want school staff to be forbidden from calling the police on a student unless "the student presents an imminent threat of significant harm to someone."

They also want parents or legal guardians to have access to their children while on school property and require a guardian or parent to be present if the student is being interrogated or questioned about potentially criminal behavior.

The ACLU also wants students to undergo consultations with school counselors before the police are called unless there is an emergency situation.

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The Hawaii Department of Education did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The letter gives further details of the alleged incident and says that the police and school officials detained the mother in another room, and refused to let Taylor see her daughter.

"I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor. There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth. My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I'm disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever," Taylor said in a statement shared by the ACLU.

The ACLU has given the school and the police until Nov. 8 to respond to its demands