Today’s news:

Attorney claims punishment damaged PS 81 kindergartner

Attorney Alan Rothbard said the parents of kindergartner Dennis Rivera plan to sue the NYPD and the city's Board of Education after the boy was placed in handcuffs by a school safety agent at Ridgewood's PS 81 on Jan. 17. The boy was believed to have misbehaved in class."As a result of this, he's going to see a psychologist and has switched schools," Rothbard said. "He has been sleeping in his parents' bed and is still very upset. How did the school find itself incapable of dealing with the temper tantrum of a 5-year-old boy?"School safety officer Thalite Johnson was named in the $15 million notice of claim in which she is accused of having handcuffed Rivera, Rothbard said.A spokeswoman for the city's Board of Education said the department would review the legal papers when it receives them.The NYPD could not be reached for comment.Rivera was handcuffed after he reportedly threw a tantrum in his kindergarten class and was then taken to Elmhurst Hospital for a mental evaluation, Rothbard said. Rivera's mother called the school and said she was sending a baby sitter to pick up the kindergartner, he said.But the school would not release the child to his baby sitter, Rothbard said."The parent's substitute was there to take him home, so why didn't they just turn him over and send him home rather than send him to a psychiatric ward?" he said.U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) and state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said they were concerned that regulations regarding the restraint of young children may not have been followed during the incident.In a statement, the New York Civil Liberties Union blasting the NYPD, accusing the department of handling child behavioral problems as criminal matters.The boy's family has removed him from the Ridgewood school and placed him in a local private school, Rothbard said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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