Mother of Highland third-grader believes son’s arrest unnecessary

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

A 9-year-old boy was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on Tuesday at Highland Elementary School. The boy’s mother said she thinks police took things too far.

Rebecca Spain said her son has a history of acting up, but she doesn’t think he should have been arrested.

According to police, the student was out of control and hitting teachers. He also screamed and fought with the arresting officer, the report said.

“I don’t think he should have been arrested for that,” Spain said. “I thought when the cop came out, they were going to get him to act right,” said Spain, who was at the school at the time of the arrest.

When police arrived at the school the boy was lying under a bench. Police asked him to stand and have a seat; when the boy refused, the officer took the 4-foot, 65-pound third-grader by the shoulder and the waistband of his jeans and placed him on the bench, the report said.

The boy, whose last name is different from his mother’s, began screaming and fighting, so Officer D. Rice handcuffed him and transported him to the juvenile detention center, the report shows.

Clovis Police Chief Bill Carey said Spain spoke with the arresting officer, but does not know details related to that discussion.

Spain said she thought having the police called to the school to handle her son would help the situation, but she thought the result would be a stern talk, not an arrest.

Carey said it’s the officer’s discretion to determine if arrest is necessary, and he supports the officer’s actions in this case. Rice could not be reached for comment.

Spain said her son was roughly handled and he was sore from being handcuffed after she picked him up from the detention center.

“They (police) threw him down on his stomach. I was scared to see my son handled like that so I went around the corner,” Spain said.

She said the same police officer was able to calm him down in a similar incident last December without arresting him, she said.

“A cop was there last time; he (the boy) went back to class,” she said.

Clovis Police Lt. James Schoeffel said there is no age limit in the law dictating arresting and booking individuals for disorderly conduct.

David R. Briseno, director of community relations for Clovis Municipal Schools, said police are rarely called to elementary schools, and only when other interventions haven’t worked.

Clovis Police Lt. Jay Longley signed off on the report.

“We arrest and/or cite junior high and high school students, but we don’t see many young cases like this,” he said.

The boy was charged with a misdemeanor, but by statute could have been charged with a felony, Schoeffel said.

“The officer handled the call the way he did after talking with all parties involved,” Schoeffel said.

Spain stressed that her son should have been dealt with differently by police.

“I could have taken him home and handled this with his father, but we’re living in a crazy world,” she said.

Spain said she plans on moving her son to Oklahoma City, and has informed the elementary school of her plans. She said she wishes she could move her son now, but was instructed by officials that her son must meet with a probation officer; though an officer hasn’t called yet to set an appointment, she said.