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DCF investigating report of students being improperly restrained at LeHigh Elementary

Posted at 9:05 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 21:05:47-05

LEHIGH ACRES — An investigation is continuing into reports that teachers at LeHigh Elementary used improper restraints on children as young as three years old.

Those restraints were described as a choke hold and putting their knees on a child’s back. At this point, the School District, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Children and Families are all involved in this investigation.

Meanwhile, two of the families we spoke with have already pulled their kids out of the school, and now they’re demanding answers.

Lynette Clavell and her husband Michael Torres told us they only got the full details about what happened when a DCF agent came to their house.

"She told me it’s not good, but one of the faculty members had your son with their legs wrapped around his shin, and their arms around his head and neck area for 10 minutes until he fell asleep," said Clavell.

We also spoke with Zenaida Urbina, who said something similar happened to her foster grandson.

"The teachers had placed their knees forcefully on his back to hold him down until he’d fall asleep," said Urbina.

We spoke with Clinical Therapist Quinton Clawson at the Children’s Advocacy Center, who said that type of restraint is almost never used.

"A physical restraint, at a school or anywhere else, is only supposed to be used when that child is really a danger to themselves or others," said Clawson.

To make matters worse, Torres and Urbina told us they weren’t notified anything had happened until the following day.

"You’re putting a three year old in a choke hold and keeping him there for 10 minutes until he falls asleep, and then you get a report like this at the end of the day that says he slept well and it’s got a smiley face on it," said Torres.

Clawson said, if the school doesn’t provide information, even with children that young, there are ways to learn if something’s wrong.

"Kids model behavior, so providing them ways that they can model what happened. Whether that’s showing on yourself, like how did you get this bruise? Show me on me, or even dolls, stuffed animals, things like that," said Clawson.

Torres said, aside from some bruises his son is okay, but he wants to see something done.

"The district has to own up to this and there has to be accountability. This can’t be let go and swept under the rug. there has to be action taken on this," said Torres.

At this time, both Torres and Urbina tell us they’ve pulled their kids out of LeHigh Elementary, and at least Torres told us he might be seeking a lawyer as well.