School says staff acted properly in restraining boy who later died

The Baltimore Sun

Bowling Brook Preparatory School officials said yesterday that its staff "followed all appropriate restrictive procedures" in handling Isaiah Simmons III, 17, who died after reportedly losing consciousness while being restrained by staff last week at the private residential center for juveniles.

"When Isaiah became threatening, our staff responded for his safety and the safety of others," said a statement by the school yesterday, the first public comment by the Carroll County facility since Simmons' death Tuesday.

"Isaiah's aggressive behavior continued over a period of time during which he was restrained humanely consistent with state-approved discipline policies and counseled throughout to de-escalate the crisis," the statement said.

The Baltimore law firm of Steven H. Heisler has begun investigating the death - the first of a youth in the custody of Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services since 2001 - on behalf of Simmons' family, the law firm said yesterday.

The Bowling Brook statement expressed condolences to Simmons' family but added, "We do not know what caused Isaiah's death." School officials said they are cooperating with the investigation by the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and asked "that everyone affected refrain from further speculation until officials investigating have been able to more thoroughly determine the facts."

The statement comes one day after Maryland's chief public defender said that at least four youths at Bowling Brook told lawyers that they personally witnessed staff members sitting on a struggling Simmons for three hours until he passed out and died.

Simmons' family has said the East Baltimore youth had no medical conditions.

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