A Colorado school has dropped its sexual harassment claim against a 6-year-old who was suspended for kissing a female classmate on the hand earlier this month.
Hunter Yelton, a first grader at the Lincoln School of Science and Technology, had previously kissed the same female classmate on the cheek in November and received an in-school suspension. After kissing the girl on the hand on December 4, he was suspended for two days.
Jennifer Saunders, Yelton’s mother, said her son had an “innocent crush” on the girl and kissed her on the hand during a reading group.
The girl was not upset about the kiss, but several other children reported it to the teacher. Her mother, Jade Masters-Ownbey, said Yelton tried to kiss her daughter “over and over” without her permission, and that she supported his suspension.
A representative for the school district said multiple incidents are considered sexual harassment, and that the charge would remain on Yelton’s record.
“Our main interest in this is having the behavior stop,” Canon City Schools Superintendent Robin Gooldy told HLN Tuesday. “Because the story is not just about the student that was disciplined, it is also about the student receiving the unwanted advances.” Gooldy also said that first-graders won’t be labeled as sexual harassers after the first kiss, but if the unwelcome contact continues, it will be noted in the student’s file.
Superintendent Gooldy decided to drop the sexual harassment claim Wednesday after meeting with Hunter Yelton’s parents, according to KRDO. The disciplinary offense has now been changed to “misconduct,” and Yelton has returned to school.
Jennifer Saunders said she understood the suspension, but thought the sexual harassment claim was unnecessary.
“This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a 6-year-old,” Saunders said. “Now my son’s asking questions, ‘What is sex, mommy?’”
The school district initially defended the sexual harassment claim, saying it strictly prohibits “unwelcome touching, such as patting, pinching or repeated brushing against another’s body.”