Third grader suspended for sexual harassment
Published 10:25 am Sunday, April 7, 2002
By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Charlotte Martin is just a mom with three kids trying to get her children through school and teach them good morals.
There's no question that she was surprised when her eight-year-old son, Brandon, was sent home from school Tuesday with a note informing her that he had been suspended for sexual harassment.
Brandon, a third grader at A.C. Moore Elementary School was suspended for allegedly inappropriately touching a girl on the buttock.
Martin is convinced that her son is not guilty of this accusation.
Some experts contend that elementary-age children have the capacity to understand the concept of sexual harassment.
According to Kim DeAndrade, M.Ed., a Health Staff Developer for theCambridge Massachusetts Public Schools, said that sexual harassment can happen even in Elementary school.
According to Martin, Brandon was playing football with other boys in his physical education class when he approached a group of girls. He asked one of the girls if he could play with them. After the little girl said no, Brandon decided to stay nearby to see if she would change her mind.
At this point the story is muddled with different views.
According to Martin, the little girl approached a teacher and informed the teacher of what happened.
The teacher questioned nearby children, and Martin said that the teacher said he received conflicting versions of what really happened.
Martin said that she will stand by her son in this ordeal.
David Nolin, principal at A.C. Moore, while unable to comment on disciplinary actions, said after talking with children who witnessed the incident he felt that his decision was appropriate.
Martin said that she feels the children were intimidated into telling school officials what they wanted to hear.
Erlyne Osborn, an elementary teacher with a background in both public and private schools and a columnist for Parent Soup magazine, says that in sexual harassment cases, sometimes the truth can be muddled, but it is the most important aspect when dealing with these cases.
Brandon could have received a paddling, but because his mother signed a form asking that her child not receive corporal punishment, Nolin said he had no option but to suspend Brandon.
However, Martin feels that more could have been done.
Martin said that she has two major concerns from this ordeal: Brandon's record for perfect attendance being tarnished and the fact the incident will follow him throughout his school career.
Martin said she is seeking legal advice for her son.
Brandon returned to school on Friday, however his mother says that he was greeted with heckling and sour feelings from fellow classmates and teachers.
Buck Powell, Escambia County School Board Superintendent was unavailable for comment at press time.