A 12-year-old middle school student in Worcester, Massachusetts has been suspended for hugging his gym teacher. According to his foster-mother, the Forest Grove Middle School student was initially suspended for 10 days and given a record on physical assault of a teacher.
Julie Orozco stated she was first told that he had put his hands on a teacher, and then was told by staff that it was just a hug. The seventh-grader has yet to be identified, but he fully admits he was fooling around with his friends in gym class when the teacher told him to sit out. He explained, “At the end of the day, I just hugged her, nothing really happened. Then I went over just like, and I gave her a hug and said, ‘Please, I don’t want to sit out’ because I like the game.”
After sitting out for five minutes, the teacher finally allowed him to play dodgeball. Orozco says it wasn’t until the next period that the boy was called to the principal’s office. The boy was told the hug was “too tight, forceful and aggressive,” and that the 12-year-old boy should have known it was highly inappropriate.
The foster-mother understood, saying she didn’t necessarily expect the teacher to be okay with being hugged or touched. But she did expect that as an educator, she tell her students what boundaries they are to follow while in her class.
After several phone calls, an eventual hearing, and emails, Orozco, who had been the boy’s foster-mother since March, got his school-record reduced from assault on staff to general disruption of school, and his suspension was reduced from 10 days to 4 days.
Should this kid have been suspended in the first place? I’m going to go ahead and say no, at the end of the day it was a hug. Although I do get the personal space situation, this kid wasn’t intending to harm the teacher in any way shape or form. A suspension, better yet, the initial record of physical assault of a teacher was too much to begin with.