The mother of a 7-year-old boy attending Tesoro del Valle Elementary School filed a complaint with the Saugus Union School District alleging her son was bullied and falsely accused by another boy of having a gun in his backpack.
The alleged incident happened Feb. 13, and when school staffers opened the backpack they found about 20 Valentines addressed to other classmates, but no gun, according to the mother.
After they opened the backpack and found no gun, however, the same staffers called the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, prompting a swift response by more than half a dozen deputies, according to the mother.
Now the mother, Thea-Marie Perkins, wants answers for what she says was a violation of her son’s civil rights.
She has also reached out to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for help. The association states it’s committed to securing the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.
NAACP spokesman Darrell Goode said he will join Perkins on Thursday morning when she sits down with SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins and school staffers involved in the incident.
“(Perkins) asked me to come with her, and I will be there,” Goode said Wednesday. “I’m meeting with the superintendent tomorrow, so we’ll know where we are on this.”
One of the concerns expressed by Perkins was calling in law enforcement before calling her.
Lt. Joseph Fender, of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, said Wednesday, however, that school staffers tried to reach Perkins before calling the Sheriff’s Department.
“School administrators reached out to in an effort to contact the child’s mother before contacting the sheriff,” he said.
Phone and email messages left Wednesday morning with SUSD administrators, including Hawkins and Tesoro del Valle Principal Gina Nolte, were not immediately returned. Email messages left Wednesday morning for Perkins to call The Signal have also not yet been returned.
In her email describing the Feb. 13 incident and the events allegedly leading up to it, Perkins wrote: “I notified the school last week about my child and how kids were teasing him.
“Today when the same boy … from Ms. Denny’s class, teased him about being expelled from his former school, where he was on the honor roll, my son said he didn’t know what he was talking about and said he had a Nerf-Slingshot gun he got for Christmas,” she wrote.
“Somehow, the boy then re-phrased my son’s words, saying he had a gun in his backpack! They did not call me or the Special Education Department at Saugus. Instead they called the sheriff. And they questioned my child without me and searched his backpack without me,” she wrote.
In response to her concerns, Goode, on behalf of the NAACP, sent her a few of his own concerns in a response also sent to the media.
It reads in part: “There are several concerns here that should be addressed by campus administration, and board of education because they failed to protect the physical and emotional safety of your child, and mitigate the fear that could spread to others.
“For example, once the administration ascertained there was no threat, i.e., Valentine cards, their attention should have immediately shifted to the one reporting the false threat, which could have been a real threat,” Goode wrote.
“The district and sheriff responsibility should have shifted the investigation to the student, who clearly made what appears to be a knowingly false and dangerous report. Lives of innocent students, parents and staff could have been at risk by law enforcement response. Question why was this not done?” he wrote.