Any case of sexual abuse or indecency with a child is sad, but when the perpetrator is also a child, it also makes the situation more complicated. Newschannel 6 received an email from a distraught mother in Windthorst who said her 7-year-old daughter had been touched inappropriately by another student in her class.
We want to warn you -- this story is extremely sensitive.
On August 31 the mother was horrified when she heard about what happened to her daughter in her elementary class. An 8-year-old boy had started by rubbing her on the arm and leg, and eventually went under her skirt and shorts and touched her inappropriately. We've kept the mother's identity hidden. She expressed her heartache at hearing about the incident.
"I cried. And I cried. And I got mad. But I tried not to in front of her. It's sickening. It disgusts me to think that I'm supposed to be able to trust the school. I'm supposed to be able to send her to school and know that she's gonna be okay," she said.
The mother went to Windthorst School the next school day to speak with both the elementary principal, Kenda Cox, and the Windthorst ISD superintendent, Don Windham. They later spoke with the boy, who admitted to touching the woman's daughter. Administrators promised they would take care of the matter.
The mother also went to the Archer County Sheriff's Office. They looked into the matter, but can only go so far.
"[We] found out that everybody involved was under the age of 10, and didn't fall within our jurisdiction," said Lt. Jack McGuinn, an investigator at the A.C.S.O.
Originally, the mom says things were moving along; she says the school moved the boy out of her daughter's home room. Two weeks later she was upset again because her daughter reported she had been shoved by the same boy in line and approached by him on the playground. The mother still doesn't feel that enough action has been taken to keep the boy away from her daughter.
Perhaps what upset the mother most is that she says teachers and faculty who should have been made aware of the situation didn't even know it happened. She says the principal said the incident had been reported to her daughter's teacher, but at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher said, "This happened in my room?"
"I trusted them. I trusted that they were taking care of the situation," the mother said.
We were able to speak with Superintendent Windham briefly over the phone, although he declined an on-camera interview as per advice from attorneys. The only thing he could confirm was that the boy was placed in in-school suspension, or ISS, for multiple days.
The Windthorst ISD student code of conduct clearly states that a student must be placed in Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, or DAEP, if he commits an expellable offense and is between six and nine years old.
"Three days of ISS is a slap on the hand -- 'Don't touch that; that's hot.' -- it's not punishment for sexually assaulting a child," the mother said.
Windham also sent Newschannel 6 a statement via email. In it he says the district takes those types of allegations seriously, and that quote, "[T]he recent allegations were investigated and addressed appropriately in accordance with state and federal law, local district policy, and the board-adopted student code of conduct."
Because this has affected her whole family, the mother will be taking the issue up to the school board next week. She knows what she's going to tell them.
"I guess the same story over and over again. All I can do is tell everybody until something gets done," she said.
Lieutenant McGuinn says in situations where a young child is the perpetrator, it's not uncommon for him to be a victim outside of school. They investigated that possibility, but McGuinn says they don't believe that to be the case in this incident.
The next Windthorst ISD board meeting will be Monday night at 7 PM.
Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6
Below is the email response Newschannel 6 received from Superintendent Don Windham: