The principal of Ashton Ranch Elementary School in the exurbs of Phoenix, Ariz. accused a five-year-old boy of sexual misconduct because he pulled his own pants down after a playground bully allegedly threatened that if he did not do it, the bully would do it for him.
According to the boy’s mother, the school is now insisting on keeping a permanent file on the kindergartner labeling him as a sexual miscreant, reports local television station KTVK.
The incident initially happened back in April. The boy, Eric Lopez, was on the Ashton Ranch Elementary playground when another, unidentified kid allegedly bullied him into dropping his drawers – both his pants and his underwear – in front of a gaggle of other students.
The mother, Erica Martinez, claims that her son submitted to the threat.
At that point, teachers on the playground interceded and marched the five-year-old boy to the principal’s office.
Martinez said the principal, David R. Stoeve according to the school’s website, responded by compelling the little boy to sign a document in which he labels his own actions as “sexual misconduct.” The principal also gave the kid detention.
KTVK shows the boy’s chicken-scratch signature on the document. It’s surrounded by a bunch of legalese.
It’s not clear if the kindergartner can read complex documents in which he admits to “sexual misconduct.”
Arizona law governing the ability of minors to sign documents in any meaningful way is generally governed by common law.
Martinez, the mother, said she was not present when her son for the meeting between her son and the principal. She also says she was only informed later about the incident and the subsequent labeling of her son’s actions as “sexual misconduct.”
When she appealed the labeling of her son, she says, school officials brushed her off by insisting that they had followed established procedures for when a kid allegedly gets bullied into pulling down his pants.
“He’s a 5-year-old,” she told KTVK. “He does not know right from wrong yet.”
Martinez claims that school officials did not tell her son that he had a right for a parent to be present when he was being disciplined under school district policy.
“My son is not a sexualized minor,” she added. “I’m just heartbroken.”
The punishment – if any – for the student allegedly made the threat is unknown.
School district officials did not respond to the station’s request for comment.