Colorado boy, 6, suspended for sexual harassment
AURORA, Colo.—A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his suburban Denver school for three days after school officials say he told a girl "I'm sexy and I know it," a line from a popular song.
The first-grader at Sable Elementary School in Aurora is accused of sexual harassment and disrupting other students, according to a letter the school district sent to the boy's mother after he was sent home Wednesday.
School officials issued a statement saying they couldn't discuss the case, but they pointed out a school board policy that defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance. There is no age limit.
The Aurora Police Department said it was not involved in the case because laws only cover children ages 10 and older.
The boy's mother, Stephanie Meadows, said her son doesn't know the meaning of sexual harassment. It's the second time her son has gotten in trouble for quoting the song, she said.
"I'm just, I'm floored," Meadows told KMGH-TV ( http://bit.ly/KaXY7f). "They're going to look at him like he's a pervert. And it's like, that's not fair to him."
The Associated Press could not locate Meadows for comment.
Aurora Public Schools issued a statement Thursday saying it is trying to provide an equal learning environment for all students.
"We have policies and protocol in place to prevent any disruption to the learning environment. Due to privacy laws, we are unable to discuss appropriate disciplinary consequences about a specific student," wrote spokeswoman Paula Hans.
Denver attorney Craig Silverman said elementary school students have the same rights to free speech as adults as long as they understand and follow the rules. He said school policies should allow for exceptions.
"Sometimes when you go to a zero-tolerance policy, you end up with a zero-sense policy," he said.
The 6-year-old's suspension comes while the Colorado Legislature considers a measure that would create a task force to potentially give school administrators more discretion on how to discipline students and avoid automatic calls to police.
The bill, aimed at reforming strict zero-tolerance policies adopted after the Columbine High School shootings, has passed the state Senate and is awaiting action by the full House.
Lawmakers who worked on the measure say zero-tolerance policies have disrupted too many students' education for minor offenses. Lawmakers want school districts to consider prevention, intervention, peer mediation, counseling and other approaches to limit the number of expulsions and suspensions.
As examples, lawmakers have cited Colorado students who were referred to police for trying to break up a fight or having a replica gun on school grounds.
They also point to cases such as at least two in Florida in which girls, 10 and 11 years old at the time, were arrested for allegedly bringing a plastic butter knife and a small kitchen knife to school.
Under Colorado's Senate Bill 46, the only cause for mandatory expulsion would be bringing a real firearm to school.
Aurora Public Schools Policy: http://bit.ly/JI7lww
Senate Bill 46: http://goo.gl/VJ3RG
Information from: KMGH-TV, http://www.thedenverchannel.com