Jury: No wrongdoing in school's use of restraint chair on young boy

Jury: No wrongdoing in school's use of restraint chair on young boy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal court jury sided with the state Monday by determining no wrongdoing over a school's decision to tie up a 4-year-old boy during classes.

Therese Ricks sued the state after her son Sawyer, who has autism, was tied down using a Rifton Chair during a preschool graduation ceremony.

The state says Rifton Chairs are commonly used to aid those with special needs. In this case, the chair was "a small wooden toddler chair with armrests and a belt, similar to a belt on a high chair or a child's car seat," the state said.

Ricks filed the suit saying the use of the chair resulted in her son being discriminated against and excluded from class activities at Koko Head Elementary.

The jury however, disagreed.

Jurors deemed the chair gave Sawyer the necessary support to keep him from falling. On previous occasions, the state said because of his weakened condition, he has fallen out of other classroom chairs without armrests.

The family's attorney says the chair was an illegal form of restraint, and the state should not use this verdict to justify restraining children.

State officials also say the chair was used on several occasions between April and June of 2014.

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