It was the type of call that no parent ever wants to receive.
A school counselor relayed the news that a Neosho man's son had been kicked out of school because he had touched a girl inappropriately and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
Both children were kindergarten students at Central Elementary School. The boy is a special needs student with a speech impediment.
In a case of the "me-too" movement spiraling out of control, the girl said the boy touched her and threatened her during recess at a time when the teacher was in the building talking to another student and that when he was questioned he admitted doing it.
The suspension was only the beginning of the family's problems. The school district has hotlined family members five times since then with accusations including physical and sexual abuse, called the juvenile office because the boy was not attending school and did not let up even when DFS and the Juvenile Office found all of the complaints to be unfounded.
The parents went through proper channels, including Central Elementary Principal Christine Cawley, Superintendent Dan Decker and R-5 Board of Education President Steve Douglas. Cawley was not helpful, the other two were not willing, the father told the Turner Report.
With their son not able to return to school since November 17, the family filed a discrimination complaint against the school district, alleging the district discriminated against the boy because of his gender and his disabilities.
My son is five years old and started kindergarten at Central Elementary School in the Neosho School District.
On November 17, 2017, I was called to the school to pick up my son because, according to school officials, he was being expelled from school for improperly touching a girl in his class. My son has a speech impediment that makes his speech difficult to understand.
According to school officials and to my son, my son was taken into a counselor's office and questioned without any other adults present and without a parent. The school told us that my son "confessed" to touching the girl and that they were told that my son said that he would beat up the girl and kill her if she told anyone.
I do not believe that my son could have said something like that even if he wanted to because of his speech problem. Also, it is completely out of character for my son to say something like that.
I was later provided an "incident report" that claims that the report was that my son "begged" the girl to let him touch her. Also, my son reported to me that a boy named Jose touched him the same way that he was accused of touching the girl. As far as I know, there has been no investigation of this. I believe that the investigation of the girl's report was made because she is a girl and they did not investigate my son's report because he is a boy.
After I picked up my son, I was told that he was expelled or suspended from school and that he could not return until all Department of Family Services investigations were complete.
I was not given any documentation of the school's action or any discipline records. It appears that someone at the school also made four reports to the Department of Family Services -- one report related to the allegation that my son touched the other student, another seems to have alleged that an adult was sexually abusing our son.
Another report seems to have suggested that we were physically abusing him or engaging in some form of improper punishment.
The fourth report said that my son was truant from school because he had not returned to school since this incident. I do not know who made these reports, but all were investigated and found unsubstantiated by DFS.
After telling me that my son was expelled or suspended from school, the school presented my son's mother, my ex-wife, with a paper suggesting that my son could return to school if we agreed to a variety of conditions, including that he would be separated from other children.
I did not agree to the conditions because I thought they were unfair and were based on discrimination rather than fair treatment of my son.
I later was provided a written "safety plan" by the school's attorney. This "safety plan" was different from the one described to me and my wife, but still contains a variety of unfair conditions that will serve to single out my son for different treatment. It does not appear that the school treated my son fairly in this situation. I think this unfair treatment is based on his disability and his sex.A complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights is nearly always a precursor for a lawsuit and the family appears ready to file one in the near future.
Shortly after the school district received notification of the filing of the discrimination complaint, the family was hotlined with the Division of Family Services for a fifth time.
In early January, nearly two months after the boy was removed from the classroom, the mother called the principal and asked if they would still have to sign a paper approving the safety plan for their son to return to class.
The conversation was captured on a recording that was obtained by the Turner Report.
The mother asked the principal if there was any paperwork that would be sent along if they decided to send the boy to another school.
"What do you mean paperwork? Cawley asked.
"Like the safety measures that would be set up and why he was suspended."
"Are you talking about another school in the district?'
The mother said she wanted to know what was going to follow the boy to any school he might attend."
"There's not any specific paperwork to send with him," the principal said.
The mother asked if there was a paper detailing the November 17 incident.
"Like a full writeup?"
"I don't know that we did a formal writeup per se on it," Cawley said. "There will be a discipline record for it."
A few days later, approximately two months after the initial incident, a write up miraculously surfaced from the child's special education teacher titled "Recess-Kindergarten Playground 11/17/2017 11:35 a.m."
I had been indoors with a student in the nurse's office and had just returned to the playground area with that student (The girl) came up to me and told me that (the boy) had touched her "pee pee." She stated he had "begged her not to tell anyone."
Ia asked her why she let him do that and she said, "He kept asking me and he begged me to let him do it. I called him over to me. I then asked him if he toucher her and he nodded. I asked him where he touched her and he said "pee pee." I told him "We do not touch other people" and to go sit by the fence for a time out.
I then talked to her and told her it was not OK for any boy to touch her in the areas of her body covered by a swimsuit, on top or bottom, and I motioned with my hand toward my own body to indicate the areas.
I told her she didn't have to let them touch her, even if they beg. I told her that she could yell, "No!" and go tell a teacher if someone is bothering her this way. Then I called the office on the staff radio and asked if Ms. Clements to come outside to the kindergarten recess area. I told her what had happened. He was separated from the group and taken to the office per her request.The father told the Turner Report he would not be surprised if more paperwork for the case doesn't appear.
Central Elementary Safety Plan
The parents say they will not sign papers giving Central Elementary officials the okay to implement a safety plan they say is designed to protect other children from the five-year-old.
The plan calls for the following.
*(The boy) will sit in a designated spot within his class during morning announcements.
● During recess on the back playground, he will remain on the blacktop area of the playground at all times.
● During recess on the front playground, he will remain in the area with the swings and jungle gym at all times.
● He will have a designated seat in the lunchroom.
● He will have a designated individual seat near the teacher in the classroom.
● He will have a designated seat at carpet time.
● He will walk second in line.
● He will have designated seats near the teacher in each specials class.
● He will not use the restroom when other students are present. If he needs to use the restroom between regularly scheduled restroom breaks, the teacher will contact the office to provide supervision and ensure there are no other students in the restroom.
● He will sit next to the window during dismissal.
Consequences for additional incidents
If there are any further incidents of inappropriate or sexual touching, gestures, or speech, he will be sent immediately to the principal’s office. The principal will contact the SRO and the parents. Behavior Management Strategies
● He will be reminded of appropriate boundaries and personal space before transition times and as deemed necessary
● He will be given positive reinforcement for demonstrating use of appropriate personal space
● He will check in at the office prior to each recess and will be reminded to use personal space and appropriate boundaries.
● He will have a reminder card on his desk outlining appropriate boundaries.
Involvement in Peer Activities
He will be included in all classroom activities and will attend recess, lunch, specials, field trips, and assemblies with his class as outlined in the safety precautions above.
● Information regarding this safety plan will be shared with teachers and staff who have a role in maintaining the plan as well as IEP team members
● A daily behavior log will be utilized to communicate with the parents.
● The teacher will share the daily behavior log with the principal.
● Parents will provide the school with information regarding outside mental health service
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