10-year-old boy with autism arrested at school, spends night in jail

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (FOX NEWS)  – A Florida mother is outraged after the arrest of her 10-year-old autistic son at school last week.

Luanne Haygood says she tried to explain that her son is on the autism spectrum, but that didn’t stop school resource deputies from taking him away in handcuffs on Wednesday, April 12th.

Her son spent the night at the juvenile facility in Fort Pierce before being released the next day.

The 10-year-old is accused of battery on a school employee, a third-degree felony.

Haygood says her son kicked a teacher last November because he didn’t feel safe with that particular employee.

Deputies say they weren’t able to serve the warrant until last Wednesday, which was John Benji’s first day back at school since he had been out on suspension.

Haygood admits her son has had behavioral issues in the past but feels it should have never resulted in an arrest.

She believes law enforcement and the school district need to be better prepared to handle students with special needs.

“His lip was quivering, he was scared. He could barely say his own name,” Haygood said. “It was because of his autism that spurred this incident and he was arrested for that. Unfortunately, instead of treating or accommodating, we arrest because we don’t know what else to do.”

The sheriff’s office says no one knew the child is on the autism spectrum.

The state attorney’s office also says they didn’t know the child had special needs and will take that into consideration when they decide how to proceed.

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