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There may be multiple ways to get suspended from school but cute kids calling a teacher the same isn't usually one among them. A 9-year-old boy in North Carolina's been temporarily booted from a grade school after allegedly referring to a teacher as "cute" or "fine". Brookside Elementary in Gastonia claims "sexual harrassment" in an incident not even involving the teacher herself.
Emanyea Lockett's only nine but the kid's spent two days at home instead of at his Gastonia (NC) grade school after the principal of Brookside Elementary allegedly phoned the mom to say the "cute" incident or referenced comment constituted a form of “sexual harassment.” Stranger yet, the teacher isn't referencing harrassment. And It wasn't the elementary school's principal who overheard the remark, but supposedly a substitute teacher. Apparently subs and principals have a lot of power in the North Carolina city. Or the combination can create some possibly idiotic decisions.
There seems to be a trend. Another elementary school in Boston claims sexual harassment in a fighting incident of a 7-year-old first-grader.
It's all weirder than weird. And a pertinent policy has yet to be cited by the elementary school or the Gaston County Schools district. The kid returned home to be suspended.
Did the 9-year-old make sexual advances or touch the teacher in any way? No. That teacher wasn't even present. But apparently the word of a substitute and what must be one highly-principled principal is enough. Not surprisingly, the school district refuses to go into detail with the media regarding the matter. That is, if there is detail.
Lockett's suspension from the middle school is supposedly for "inappropriate behavior" following the claim of "inappropriate statements." With such an issue over a highly-debatable topic including legality, logic would at least say the school had specifically tried to match up its cited reason with an actual code. But, alas, no. In fact the school district's Code of Conduct doesn't even reference or list "inappropriate behavior." The general "disruption of school" is a topic in that Code of Conduct -- equaling a five-day possible suspension -- but the district will likely have the most difficult time arguing that a reference to "cute" has disrupted an educational facility.
Who knows what would've happened had the kid referenced the teacher as being ugly, but the school's likely up a creek without a paddle for this one: Lots of things are "cute" and, more often than not, those things are furthest from sexual. If that's the case, people who call cats, kittens, dogs and puppies would be argued as capable of bestiality according to the school's definition.
But now in written form, the school seems to be trying to cover every angle. The district, via certified correspondence (the communication form commonly known as 'we're legally trying to cover our ass by making sure you get something in writing'), has reportedly sent a letter that's supposed to serve as explanation for why her young boy's alleged actions somehow are considered sexual harassment. In a letter, the school system claims the boy was overheard or referred to the school's teacher as "fine". Either the school or district allegedly claims that reference to "fine" was accompanied by a 'suggestive' tone from the 9-year -old boy. Strange things can happen but most have probably yet to hear a 9-year-old kid using a sexually suggestive tone.
Aside from endearing, other definitions for the word "cute" include shrewd or clever. And as for "fine", the description of nice, delicate or beautiful rank among possibilities. But regardless of the wording, but ranking among the truly crazy aspects may be the fact that the student isn't even accused of saying either word to the teacher herself. It's really hard to be sexually harassing someone through a third party. But that's what it appears the school or district seems to be claiming. More is surely bound to unfold. The definition most likely to come up will probably be that pertaining to "sexual harassment".
According to Merriam-Webster's, the definition of sexual harassment includes "uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate" -- the dictionary specifically referencing the idea of one in a power position harassing a subordinate, i.e. an employee or student. There's that minor issue that the teacher, in question, herself wasn't directly involved with whatever situation occurred -- which seems to make it extremely hard to argue the idea that harassment has occurred, when one of the parties isn't even present. But the definition also means the behavior better actually be sexual in nature -- and neither "cute" or "fine" is likely to cut it.
Those definitions aside, at least one in North Carolina gets a massive "Fail" for not understanding the definition of "lawsuit".