Avon boy, 10, driven home in handcuffs | VailDaily.com

Avon boy, 10, driven home in handcuffs

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyA playground incident at Avon Elementary School turned into something bigger when a 10-year-old boy was handcuffed and driven home.

AVON ” Leaving school in handcuffs is a bad way for a kid to end a week.

On Feb. 17, a fifth grader at Avon Elementary School was handcuffed and driven home following a playground scuffle.

The boy’s parents are fuming, Eagle County School District officials are scrambling, and the Avon Police Department isn’t saying much of anything.

The story, put together from accounts given by the boy, his parents, and Avon Elementary School Principal Barbara Collins, goes something like this:

The boy and another student got into a playground scuffle the morning of Feb. 17. The boy was taken to the office by a teacher, and then had a sit-down session with Avon police officer David Wineman, who had taken the job of school resource officer just after Christmas break.

At one point, the boy said he might hurt himself. At that point, he was handcuffed by Wineman and driven home.

Beyond that, agreement is hard to come by.

The boy says Wineman was telling him about juvenile laws, “rules,” he called them. He said that Wineman said, twice, that his parents could be arrested and, possibly, jailed because of his behavior. At that point, he said, he told the officer that if his parents were arrested he would hurt himself.

Collins said she heard the boy say he might hurt himself, but didn’t hear him say he’d only do that if his parents were arrested.

At that point, she said, school policy is to send a kid home. But, Collins said, Wineman “moved forward without my knowledge” in handcuffing the boy.

“Things went forward really fast,” she said.

“The officer acted independently of the schools,” Eagle County School District Superintendent John Brendza said. “I don’t condone it. He didn’t communicate what he intended to do.”

After more than a week of thinking and talking to school and town officials, Greg Webb isn’t sure what he thinks. And Webb, the boy’s father, is still upset. He hasn’t talked to a lawyer yet. That, he said, depends on what happens in the coming days.

He’s waiting for an apology from the Avon police. And he believes school officials haven’t been entirely straightforward about their involvement.

“I think the school is still confused about what happened,” Webb said.

Town officials have only released a brief statement about the incident (see side story). As of Tuesday afternoon, those officials had not responded to an open records request for documents about the incident.

But Wineman has been taken out of Avon Elementary School, and Collins said there won’t be another resource officer at the school until both that officer and administrators have better training.

“School resource officers are critically important in building trust between police officers, families and schools,” Brendza said. “We’ve had good experience with officers in the past.”

But, Webb said, it’s going to be some time before his son trusts a police officer.

“I don’t understand it,” Webb said. “To traumatize my 10-year-old boy, it’s infuriating.”

After a week at home, the boy went back to school Monday. He said he’s glad to be back. His dad is glad to have him back in school, and Collins said she is, too.

“He’s working hard,” said. “We need him back here.”

But Webb’s keeping a close eye on his son, the local police and the school.

“I really think he’s a victim here,” he said.

Staff writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or at smiller@vaildaily.com

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism