A sexual misconduct charge has been leveled at 5-year-old Eric Lopez for what is being called a voluntary “depantsing,” in which the boy, last spring, dropped his pants and underwear on the playground.
Now, in the world of kindergartners, this type of “crime” won’t bring with it any jail or JV time, but it does get the “sexual misconduct” label permanently affixed to Lopez’ record as long as he attends the Dysart Unified School District in Surprise, Arizona.
Officials at Ashton Ranch Elementary School, where the incident occurred, brought Lopez into a room after the incident and had him sign a sheet of paper acknowledging the infraction.
While students are able to have their parent with them during disciplinary meetings, that’s only if they ask for that right.
Eric did not, but his mother claims it was because he wasn’t aware of it.
And that makes her very angry. In comments to AZFamily.com, Erica Martinez expressed her outrage: “He did not know that he could ask for me. He’s 5.”
Martinez claims she’s been fighting for two months to get “sexual misconduct” out of her son’s file. (She did not have an issue with the detention that her son’s action earned him; just the label.)
Thus far, her efforts have been to no avail, and the school district feels justified.
Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean said the district follows “strict guidelines and definitions” set at both the state and federal levels concerning what defines a sexual offense.
“Our school district uses consistent language for disciplinary infractions in order to provide clarity and track discipline data accurately,” Dean said.
A state of Arizona initiative called AZ SAFE helps provide clarification to districts to assist them with the collection of information, AZFamily.com notes.
Under state definitions for sexual offenses, the state recommends every district consider the age and maturity of a student before inserting their actions into the sexual misconduct category.
Martinez believes Dysart Unified School District did not take her son’s age into account when they labeled him.
Dean’s stance: it’s just a label.
“Even though the discipline labels are consistently used and the discipline form is consistent from grades K-12 to ensure all legal mandates are met, the discussion the administrator has about a situation and consequences are age appropriate,” Dean said. “The discussion with a kindergarten student is focused on the specific action, not on the label that is used for classifying the infraction.”
Dean added that Martinez could provide a rebuttal to the report in Eric’s permanent file, but for now, the district isn’t backing down.
What do you think about this situation, readers? Is it possible for a 5-year-old to be guilty of sexual misconduct, or is the school all wrong?