The superintendents for the Portales and Clovis school systems said they have never seen an incident within any local schools that warranted restraining or handcuffing an elementary-aged child.
But that's not to say it couldn't happen, according to Portales Superintendent Randy Fowler and Clovis Superintendent Terry Myers.
The case of a 6-year-old Georgia kindergartner who was hauled off in steel handcuffs after throwing books and toys in a school tantrum is among thousands across the country fueling a long-simmering debate over when educators should bring in the police to deal with disruptive students.
"Handcuffing I've not seen at the elementary level," Fowler said. "I guess people can break the law at a young age but we've not seen it.
"At the high school and junior high, possibly, depending on the situation, they may be handcuffed at school for something they did off grounds."
Said Myers: "I'm not gonna say there is no situation where a police officer would have to come into Clovis schools and restrain an elementary school child, but in most cases, we are able to avoid that type of situation and we would do our best to keep that to a minimum."
Fowler and Myers said the only situation they think would justify restraining an elementary school child in any way would be if the child was causing harm to himself or others.
Portales School Resource Officer Victor Castillo said there are no situations that warrant handcuffing an elementary school child. Castillo said handcuffing a child at such a young age breaks any trust they might have for an adult.
"They need to be able to know that you are someone they can trust and come to," Castillo said. "You have to think about what you're doing before you do it. When you handcuff a child that young, it has repercussions."
Castillo said if an elementary school student refuses to go to the office, school officials call him, because they are not allowed to touch the child.
He said students usually calm down once an officer is present, because he usually removes the child from his/her peers and talks to them on their level to get them to calm down.
"Kids are being arrested for being kids," said Shannon Kennedy, a civil rights attorney who has filed a class-action lawsuit against Albuquerque's public school district and its police department on behalf of hundreds of kids arrested for minor offenses over the past few years, including having cellphones in class, destroying a history book and inflating a condom.
Police were put in many schools across the country in the 1990s in response to zero tolerance policies and tragedies like the Columbine High massacre. But many overwhelmed teachers and principals began turning to those officers to handle disciplinary issues that in years past would have landed students in detention.
Frustrated teachers aren't getting enough support from above to deal with increasingly extreme student behavior, from sexual harassment in elementary school to children throwing furniture, said Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque teachers' union.
"There is more chronic and extreme disrespect, disinterest and kids who basically don't care," Bernstein said.
Experts and educators point to a number of factors that lead to the arrests: Some officers are operating without special training. Some teachers fear that their physical intervention could lead to lawsuits. School administrators are desperate to get the attention of uninvolved parents. And overwhelmed teachers are unaware that calling in the police to defuse a situation could lead to serious criminal charges
In Albuquerque, which started tracking arrests after noticing more minor cases coming from schools, more than 900 of the district's 90,000 students were referred to the criminal justice system in the 2009-2010 school year. Of those, more than 500 were handcuffed, arrested and brought to juvenile detention, officials said. More than 200 were arrested for minor offenses, including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, refusing to obey and interference with staff.
Preliminary numbers indicate arrests have fallen 53 percent since the class-action lawsuit was filed in 2010, prompting law enforcement officials to order more caution.
Albuquerque school officials have declined comment on school arrests, citing the pending litigation.
But juvenile advocates and parents say first arrests could lead to more trouble.
Annette Montano says her 13-year-old son was arrested at a middle school for burping in gym class. The tension between him and school officials led to several more run-ins, she said, including a strip search after he was accused of selling drugs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.