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Special-needs teen who died at school might have been placed in headlock: police

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia police say they’re investigating the death of a 17-year-old special-needs student who might have been placed in a headlock by a staff member during a scuffle.

Police say they were called to the Wordsworth Academy at about 11 p.m. Thursday where the student was found dead. Wordsworth is a residential school for children with special needs.

Police say the teenage boy had mental health and medical issues and might have been put in a headlock by a staff member who was attempting to subdue him.

Philly.com reported: 

The boy was found unresponsive in a fourth-floor room, the (police) report said, and a staff member told police that he was “being restrained per residence protocol” when he hit his head.

ABC6 in Philadelphia said: 

The altercation reportedly happened after a stolen iPad was discovered in his room, and the teen became upset. 

During that altercation, the teen was put in a headlock, police say. Medical staff at the facility responded and 911 was called, but the teen was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not ruled this a homicide, and are waiting for the medical examiner to see if the teen had any pre-existing conditions.

A spokeswoman says the school is “shocked and saddened” but can’t comment further during the ongoing police investigation.

The school’s website says it provides “education, behavioral health, and child welfare services to children and youth who are experiencing emotional, behavioral and academic challenges.”

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