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Suit: School security guard handcuffed 6-year-old girl

Fernwood Elementary School Facebook photo

A security guard handcuffed a learning-disabled 6-year-old girl under a staircase at her Far South Side school earlier this year, a federal lawsuit alleges.

When Marlena Wordlow came to check on her daughter after she became sick on March 18 at Fernwood Elementary School, 10041 S. Union Ave., the guard told her he had cuffed the first-grader and was “teaching her a f—g lesson,” according to the suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The Chicago Board of Education is listed as defendant in the suit along with the security guard, who has not been arrested nor charged with a crime, according to Chicago Police. He has since been fired, with a “do not hire” flag on his personnel file, Chicago Public Schools communications director Emily Bittner said in an email Thursday night.

The girl’s special education teacher called Wordlow about 10:30 a.m. to let her know her daughter had vomited, but was feeling better, according to the suit. Wordlow went to the school that afternoon to drop off money for another child, and then stopped by her daughter’s classroom to check on her.

She was met by another teacher and the guard, who led her down a stairwell to where the girl — “crying, sweating, and visibly scared” — had her hands cuffed behind her back, the suit claims. Wordlow told them to free her daughter and then called police, the suit says.

“The safety and well-being of our students is vitally important to the District, and we take these allegations seriously,” Bittner said. “Once the incident came to light, the District immediately took the appropriate steps to address this situation and ensure our students’ safety.”

The six-count lawsuit claims the guard used excessive force and falsely imprisoned the girl. Wordlow is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.