A 13-year-old student in Albuquerque, N.M., was allegedly arrested for burping during class.
According to his lawsuit, after he “burped audibly” his teacher called the school resource officer, who in turn called the authorities to have him arrested for “interfering with public education.”
“They are using petty misdemeanor charges to arrest children in New Mexico,” said Shannon Kennedy, the boy’s attorney.
A seventh-grader at Cleveland Middle school, he names his teacher, principal and a police officer in his civil rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claims that school authorities transported the boy from the school to the detention facility without notifying his parents.
Additionally, it describes an incident that took place in early November in which the same boy was allegedly strip searched on suspicion of selling marijuana. He was never charged.
According to Kennedy, after a minor is booked at the juvenile detention center for a nonviolent offense, a referral is sent to the Juvenile Justice Department for a counseling appointment. She says the arrest was unnecessary because the referral to the Justice Department could have been faxed directly from the school resource officer. The student did not need to be subjected to the traumatizing booking process.
The same day this lawsuit was filed, a similar suit was filed on behalf of a 7-year-old autistic boy alleging he was hand cuffed to a chair for acting out.
Last year Kennedy said she settled a class action against the City of Albuquerque Police Department for arresting children for nonviolent crimes.
“This suit was started by a girl who was arrested for not wanting to sit next to the stinky boy in class. We settled the damages claims for a confidential amount that is sealed,” said Kennedy.
A spokesman for Albuquerque Public Schools said they would not comment on pending litigation.