Parents talk about elementary school touching incident
The parents of a fifth grader suspended for inappropriately touching girls at an elementary school - and the father of one of the victims - are talking about the incident with Eyewitness News.
"I'm a dad who loves my kid and my first emotion is, 'I want to choke everybody'," said the father, who did not want to be identified.
The man is still coming to terms with what he says happened to his 10-year-old daughter inside Crestview Elementary School last week. Three fifth-grade boys were suspended after simulating sex acts on at least eight girls inside the school's library.
School officials say all of the students referred to it as a "game of tag."
"It's not a game, as the school is calling it, it's kids playing with each other, tickling each other, laughing," said the mother of one of the boys.
"The person that did this to her was very honest in saying my daughter didn't play a game," the father said.
But she was the victim of a separate incident by one of the boys inside a classroom two days in a row.
"Last Tuesday, was touched inappropriately at school, in a bad touch way," the man said. "She broke down in the classroom. The teacher asked if she was okay. She replied, 'No, I need to call my mom.' The teacher said finish your test first and then come talk to me."
He says she was then sent to the principal's office. But he never got a phone call from the school.
"Never got a phone call. My daughter had to go and sit back in class for three hours, until we picked her up from school," the father said.
In fact, he says, the school never notified him.
"That's their moniker, 'Crestview is the school of communications' and they didn't communicate one time, when my daughter needed them the most," the father said.
He says school officials didn't call police, either.
"She said, 'No, it's a school matter.' I asked her four times to call the police," he said.
The father says he called police from his cell phone and that's when Child Protective Services got involved. Now, he wants to shed light on what he says is a lack of protocol and he has unlikely allies.
"One last time, thank you," he said to the boy's mother during our interview.
"No problem. Thank you," she replied.
Now, the boy's parents are working to get him back on track.
"My focus right now is getting my son back in school, get him some counseling," his mother said.
The two families met to talk it all out.
"We hugged. It was tears. I mean, tears of joy," she said. "It felt like a sigh of relief. I was nervous, I was excited, I was scared. But as parents, this was the right thing to do, bring closure, let the kids come face to face."
His daughter's wish was granted.
"Her son looked my daughter in the eye and looked all of us in the eye and he apologized," the father said.
Both sets of parents agree, the boy's punishment does not fit the crime.
"He had an in-school suspension, a home suspension, then they said he can come back to school with an alternative. I mean, he's 11 years old. Three punishments, I mean, that's insane," the mother said.
The parents say they will fight together for clear and specific school rules about parent notification and supervision.
"Hopefully, the educators will see us coming together and how this incident could have been handled and resolved in the first place," the boy's mother said.
The case is closed between the families, but it is not over.
"It will never be closed until the adults that didn't supervise and didn't provide a safe environment in our school are gone," said the father.
Eyewitness News asked Lawrence Township Schools to comment on what happened. The school district issued a statement:
"We understand that in their eyes, there was some delay. We have to follow due process and conduct an investigation. We felt like we reacted quickly. Students came forward, we investigated and within four hours, parents were being notified."