A Virginia mother, fed up with her daughter being bullied and the school allegedly not doing anything about it, sent the girl to school with a recorder in her backpack in order to get evidence. However, now the mother is the one being charged with a crime, WISH-TV (Indianapolis) is reporting.
Sarah Sims claims that her nine-year-old daughter was being bullied at Norfolk, Virginia’s Ocean View Elementary School. Further, she says that she made repeated phone calls and sent repeated emails to school officials complaining about the bullying, but got nowhere.
“If I’m not getting an answer from you, what am I left to do?”
Felling she was out of options, Sims put a small audio recorder in her daughter’s backpack and sent her to school with it in the hope of capturing the bullying on tape and having some solid evidence. However, when school officials found out about it, rather than deal with the bullying, they pressed criminal charges against her.
Specifically, Sims is looking at a felony charge of use of a device to intercept oral communication and a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The felony charge alone carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.
Sarah Sims says nothing was being done to help her 9-year-old daughter who was being bullied at school. So, she… https://t.co/cTWowZsspb
— WIAT CBS42 (@WIAT42) November 22, 2017
Wiretapping laws, which come into play here, vary from state to state. In some states, both people being recorded must know about it and consent to it. In others, including Virginia, according to the Digital Media Law Project, only one party must know about the recording and consent to it. However, children cannot legally give consent.
Although the daughter was moved to a new classroom, Sims is shocked that school officials decided to focus on punishing her for trying to get evidence of her daughter’s bullying, rather than address the bullying itself.
“I was mortified. The next thing I know, I’m a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”
Norfolk Public Schools have repeatedly declined to comment on the issue, saying that they can’t discuss pending litigation, as well as citing student privacy rules. School officials also noted that no electronic devices of any kind are allowed in elementary schools.
Sims’ lawyer, Kristin Paulding, says the criminal charges are almost certainly not going to stick. Further, she wants other Norfolk parents to be aware of what is happening with her client, in case they might have a similar idea.
“I think the community needs to know that this is happening, because any parent out there that is sending their child to school now could be at risk for something that happened to Sarah.”
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