A Tennessee mother said her autistic son’s elementary school accused him of sexual harassment over his innocent contact with classmates.
Summery Putnam said her son’s teacher at East Ridge Elementary called her around three weeks ago and told her to talk to her 5-year-old son Nathan about “boundaries,” ABC affiliate WTVC reported.
Putnam said the teacher accused her son of “sexual activities” because he hugged one child and kissed another on the cheek.
“If you don’t understand how autism works, you’ll think he’s acting out or being difficult,” she told WTVC. “But, that’s not the situation.”
In a private Facebook post, Nathan’s grandmother, Debi Amick, said it was “disclosed” that her grandson would be registered as a sex offender.
“What do you do when a 5 year child is being labeled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system?” she wrote. “It was disclosed that it will go in his record for the rest of his life that he is a sex offender.”
“Who do you turn to for help when the school will not even listen to the child’s doctor when he explains the child’s difficulties in his comprehension of simple things such as boundaries,” Amick added.
A spokesperson for the Hamilton County Department of Education said in a statement to WTVC that staff are required to report concerns about children to the Department of Child Services.
“It’s up to DCS to determine if those reports are acted on by DCS and what form those actions may take,” the spokesperson said.
According to WTVC, the school system would not confirm whether Nathan’s teacher filed a report with the Department of Child Services. A spokesperson told WTVC that such complaints are confidential.
Putnam said Nathan has switched schools and is enrolled in special education services.