A 6-year-old first grader in Colorado has been suspended from elementary school for sexual harassment after kissing his classmate's hand.
Hunter Yelton of Canon City told television station KRDO-TV
he had a crush on a classmate at the Lincoln School of Science and Technology, and he knew she liked him back.
"It was during class yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened," said Hunter. He told the television he was sent to the office after the incident.
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Hunter's mother, Jennifer Saunders, acknowledged her son had been in trouble before at the school for rough-housing and kissing the same girl on the cheek, but she felt the claim of sexual harassment by the school this time was over the top.
"Now my son is asking questions… what is sex mommy?" Saunders told the television station. "That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old. We've been working with him with the classroom disruption. He was grounded for a while."
District superintendent Robin Gooldy told The Associated Press
on Tuesday the boy was suspended because of a policy against unwanted touching.
"The focus needs to be on his behavior. We usually try to get the student to stop, but if it continues, we need to take action and it sometimes rises to the level of suspension," he said.
Gooldy told the Canon City Daily Record
that the policy infractions aren't necessarily permanent.
"This is nothing that involves law enforcement," Gooldy told the Daily Record. "It's strictly a school discipline issue."
Gooldy said when the district receives sexual harassment allegations, it usually involve older students. He said district policy is in place for students kindergarten through 12th grade.
"Honestly, you don't typically see that with a younger student," he told the Daily Record. "Usually with younger kids when they do that, you correct them and they stop."
Gooldy said officials have not heard from the girl's parents, and no legal action is anticipated because it was only a violation of school policy, according to
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Lincoln Principal Tammy DeWolfe told the newspaper that before a suspension happens, they try to work with the family to change the child's behavior.
"Then we continue to work with the families, and our goal is to ultimately get that inappropriate behavior to stop," said DeWolfe.
According to the AP, Colorado and other states have been moving to relax zero-tolerance disciplinary policies blamed for increasing the dropout rate and giving students criminal records for relatively minor infractions. However, those policies have dealt mostly with safety issues, such as students fighting or bringing a replica gun to school, not sexual harassment.
Dr. David Welsh, a school psychologist, said some policies that bar bullying, harassment and weapons on public school campuses may go too far, but school boards are being forced to develop strict policies and follow them to the letter because of a large number of complaints being reported by students and teachers who face consequences if they keep silent.
"If you have a policy and procedure and you don't follow it, it's hard to defend," Welsh said.
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