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‘Unacceptable:’ Mom upset student ‘arrested’ after too many absences; school says it’s policy and legal

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A junior high school student was placed in handcuffs and taken to an intervention center after school officials said he missed class for too many days. The student’s mother said she’s outraged, but officials with Muskogee Public Schools said what happened to her son was perfectly legal.

“It’s my fault! Exactly! It’s not my 14-year-old son’s fault. He doesn’t have a car to get himself there,” said Stephanie, the boy’s mother.

Stephanie, who did not want to share her last name, said she’s upset her son, a student at Alice Robertson Junior High School, was treated like a criminal — handcuffed and taken to the “Community Intervention Center,” or CIC, located behind the Muskogee County Jail, for missing too many days of school.

“I could visibly see marks on his wrists,” said Stephanie. “Even if it’s 20, they shouldn’t have handcuffed him in front of everybody.”

Stephanie said most of the days her son missed were excused absences with doctor’s notes.

“Kids get sick, and they don’t always have to have a doctor’s note,” said Stephanie.

“Four absences in a four-week period can lead to a possible citation. That’s Oklahoma state statute. It’s been on the books for decades now,” said Steve Braun, director of communications for Muskogee Public Schools.

Braun said school officials could not comment on specific cases, but said upon the fifth absence, a citation was issued and parents must sign it, which he said they typically do.

“Parent comes in, signs the citation and goes about the day,” said Braun.

If parents don’t sign the citation, Braun said the students are taken to the CIC, where parents are forced to pick them up and sign the citation.

“I am willing to take responsibility for the days that he did miss,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said she understands, but believes school officials could’ve handled this differently.

“Them arresting him, putting handcuffs on him, and leaving marks on him and traumatizing him, in my perspective, is unacceptable,” said Stephanie.