The Southern Poverty Law Center claims some students at Capital City Alternative School have been treated like they're in prison.
"Students have been shackled to railings, poles, other inanimate objects and left unsupervised," said advocate Jed Oppenheim.
Attorneys didn't have any pictures or video of the alleged abuse to show us at a news conference Wednesday.
What they do have is the testimony of five students in a Federal Class Action lawsuit.
Four males and one female, between the ages of 14 and 16, claim they were handcuffed by the wrists, and at times the ankles as well, for up to six hours.
Some students say they were forced to eat lunch while handcuffed, and had to yell out to be released to use the bathroom, sometimes unsuccessfully.
They claim school principals often ordered the shackling.
Drodriguez Williams, 19, is not a party in the suit, but he says it happened to him too, one day when his shirt was untucked.
"One of the security guards stopped me. They asked me to tuck my shirt in. I slowly walked to tuck in my shirt, they told me to stop. Handcuffed me to the ground," Williams said. "When you get uncuffed it's 5:00, 6:00 in the afternoon. After school. Sometimes you don't even get to eat lunch."
Attorneys for the Southern Poverty Law Center say on April 15 they sent a letter to JPS Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Edwards, school board members, and board attorney JoAnne Shepherd.
It informs the district about the allegations, and warns a lawsuit would be coming if the punishment practices at Capital City weren't changed.
"As we understand the policy, students can only be handcuffed if they're a danger to themselves or others, or destructing property," said Attorney Jody Owens, Center Director. "In these instances, none of these occurred. Students were simply (saying) I forgot my belt today, have the wrong shoes on. They were handcuffed."
JPS says they take any allegation very seriously.
The JPS Legal Department will respond to the lawsuit in the appropriate legal manner.
The district is totally and fully committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students.
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