SURPRISE, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas) – A mother is upset after her 5-year-old son received detention for what his school is calling “sexual misconduct.”
Eric Lopez, a kindergartner at Ashton Ranch Elementary School, pulled his pants down on the playground this past spring. The child received detention and has a note within his permanent file at the school. At the time of the incident, his mother wasn’t notified nor did school officials inform her that her son signed a note in the assistant principal’s office.
“He did not know that he could ask for me,” Eric’s mother, Erica Martinez, told KTVK. “He’s 5.”
Dysart Unified School District has a policy that states a parent does not have to be present for a disciplinary meeting unless the student requests his or her parent.
For the past two months, Martinez has been fighting to have the sexual misconduct label removed from her son’s file citing that her son’s actions were not sexual in any way. But the district has denied her appeal and the assistant superintendent is defending the school’s actions.
“Our school district uses consistent language for disciplinary infractions in order to provide clarity and track discipline data accurately,” assistant superintendent Jim Dean said in a written statement to KTVK.
He explained that the district must follow the state and federal guidelines and definitions that are set to define a sexual offense.
AZ SAFE is an initiative sponsored by the state which helps districts collect information and clarify it. The state recommends that each district take into account the age and maturity of a student before placing their actions in the sexual offense category.
The mother does not think that her son’s age was taken into account when the Dysart Unified School District labeled his “depantsing.”
But Dean shared that the district does not focus on labels when they discipline students.
“Even though the discipline labels are consistently used and the discipline form is consistent from grades K-12 to ensure all legal mandates are met, the discussion the administrator has about a situation and consequences are age appropriate,” Dean said to KTVK. “The discussion with a kindergarten student is focused on the specific action, not on the label that is used for classifying the infraction.”