URORA, Colorado – A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his suburban Denver school for three days after school officials said he told a girl “I’m sexy and I know it,” a line from a popular song.
D’Avonte Meadows, a first-grader at Sable Elementary School in Aurora, is accused of sexual harassment and disrupting other students, according to a letter the school district sent to his mother after he was sent home Wednesday.
School officials issued a statement saying they couldn’t discuss the case, but they pointed out a school board policy that defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance. There is no age limit.
“It plays in stores; everywhere you go it’s there,” D’Avonte’s father Kenneth Meadows said.
The Aurora Police Department said it was not involved in the case because laws only cover children ages 10 and older.
D’Avonte’s mother, Stephanie Meadows, said her son doesn’t know the meaning of sexual harassment and it’s the second time he has gotten in trouble for quoting “Sexy and I Know It.” The song by the duo LMFAO was at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for two weeks in January.
Aurora Public Schools issued a statement Thursday saying it is trying to provide an equal learning environment for all students.
“We have policies and protocol in place to prevent any disruption to the learning environment. Due to privacy laws, we are unable to discuss appropriate disciplinary consequences about a specific student,” wrote spokeswoman Paula Hans.
Denver attorney Craig Silverman said elementary school students have the same rights to free speech as adults as long as they understand and follow the rules. He said school policies should allow for exceptions.
“Sometimes when you go to a zero-tolerance policy, you end up with a zero-sense policy,” he said.
D’Avonte’s suspension comes as the Colorado Legislature considers a measure that would eliminate zero-tolerance discipline policies related to violence and weapons that were enacted after the Columbine High School shootings.
“I’m hoping that they give us an apology and a clear picture of why they decided to call this sexual harassment,” Stephanie Meadows said.
It’s a response to cases in which students have been punished for bringing fake guns or butter knives to school and doesn’t address sexual harassment policies. However, Sen. Linda Newell, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure would also direct school districts to consider alternative forms of discipline, such as remediation decided by a student’s peers, in all kinds of discipline cases.
The bill has passed the state Senate and is awaiting action by the full House.
Lawmakers who worked on the measure say zero-tolerance policies have disrupted too many students’ education for minor offenses.
As examples, lawmakers have cited Colorado students who were referred to police for trying to break up a fight or having a replica gun on school grounds.
They also point to cases such as at least two in Florida in which girls, 10 and 11 years old at the time, were arrested for allegedly bringing a plastic butter knife and a small kitchen knife to school.
Under Colorado’s Senate Bill 46, the only cause for mandatory expulsion would be bringing a real firearm to school.