Mother says son manhandled by staff at Annette Officer Elementary

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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – An East St. Louis mother said her son, a student at Annette Officer Elementary School, was hurt by staff members, and claims to have the pictures to prove it.

Kara Willingham said staffers grabbed her 10-year-old son, Darrion Branch, a little too harshly after he tried to stick up for his little brother, who was being picked on. She said Darrion was physically restrained.

“Four grown gentlemen manhandled him, slammed him to the ground, bent his arms up behind his back, shook him by his arms,” Willingham said. “He has scratches, abrasions on his arms, neck, on his left torso.”

Darrion said he was only trying to help his younger brother, who was being picked on by some other kids during Boy Scouts on Tuesday morning.

“Some teachers at the school were holding me down, shaking me, and then took me into the office,” Darrion said. “And a light-skinned guy was telling me I’m not going to go nowhere and he was shaking me and said, ‘you’re like a basketball.’”

It’s is not clear which adults were involved in this alleged incident.

“I’m not sure; they won’t release their names to me,” Willingham said.

Willingham says the district handed her a letter describing what happened, part of which reads:

“He (Darrion) kept trying to leave out of the office, two CPI trained staff members held him back. ...While staff was restraining him on the bench, he was kicking, scratching and attempting to bite staff members that were sitting with him.”

“I take into consideration that, yes, he was being a little combative because his younger brother had been attacked, but it doesn’t take four grown men to restrain a 10-year-old,” Willingham said.

The mother said her son is serving a three-day suspension.

When reached the comment, a school district spokesperson said they were investigating the incident.