Jade Masters-Ownbey, mom of the little Canon City girl who six-year-old Hunter Yelton was suspended for kissing a few days back, initially said she wouldn't talk with the media. She thought the international publicity given to the story as a result of Hunter's behavior being tagged sexual harassment was way over the top. But after speaking out on her Facebook page, she decided to tell a newspaper and a TV station -- but not the one that broke the story in the first place -- that she feels the school district did the right thing. Details, photos and video below.
As we reported, Hunter had previously gotten into trouble at Lincoln School of Science & Technology for behavior issues, including kissing the girl on the cheek. Then, in a music class, he kissed the girl's hand, and the other kids alerted the teacher.
Before long, Jennifer Saunders, Hunter's mom, was in the principal's office, where the term "sexual harassment" set her off.
"This is taking it to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions.... 'What is sex, mommy?' That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old," she told KRDO-TV, which broke the story.
Saunders didn't seem to have a big problem with Hunter's suspension and said she was working with him about his actions. But to have him labeled a sexual harasser in paperwork that would follow him through his scholastic career at the RE-1 school district struck her as excessive and objectionable.
Before long, the global media seized on the story; as recently as yesterday, it was a topic of conversation on Fox News. No doubt the attention helped convince the district to replace the sexual harassment line with a reference to general misconduct.
In the meantime, Ownbey, who just happens to be a math teacher in RE-1, posted the following on her Facebook page:
Hey Canon City... the story about the boy being suspended from school for kissing a girl on the cheek ... there r two sides to every story and the news only shared a fragment of the one side. I am a teacher. A mom, an advocate for children.... but that boy deserved to be suspended for the continual harassment of my daughter. Canon City Schools did right!
Continue for more about Jade Masters-Ownbey's reaction to the Hunter Yelton story, including more photos and two videos. Ownbey also addressed Saunders's statement that Ownbey's daughter likes Hunter, too, and didn't object to his affections:
Not once but over and over... not with her permission but sneaking up on her... not without warning and consequences prior to suspension. There were 2 Boys originally and they kept her from playing with other kids and fought with each other. After they got in trouble, one boy stopped but the other boy apparently didn't get it. I had to put restrictions on her about which she was allowed to be around at school. I've had to coach her about what to do when u dont want someone touching u but they won't stop. Her big brother has even felt like he needed to protect her at school. In elementary school, when a boy kisses a girl the usual response of their peers is oooooooooo... so y do the other kids rush to tell? Because they've seen it over and over, they've seen him repeatedly get in trouble for it, they've seen the girl repeatedly tell him to stop, they know its wrong. I seriously hope people r not going to start bashing the school that is do a great job protecting my child from what IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT!
That note was followed by this expansion on the theme:
A crazy thing happened ... a child was harassed at school and the school dealt with it. Believe it or not it happens every day. Its not a story, its not worth headlines, its just people who work for kids doing their job. I'm thankful that my children attend a school that does their absolute best to eliminate distractions and focus on learning in a safe environment. I will not be speaking with the media. I've told them they may quote from my FB post but there's nothing more to say than that. Thank you to those who shared and have been open to knowing the truth. Please support our schools and stand behind them. After all, it is our future they build up everyday. Lincoln School of Science and Technology's mascot is a gorilla. If u stand behind them like I do, let's let them know. They've been bombarded with threats and negativity. Lets show our support for them by posting I STAND BEHIND CANON CITY SCHOOLS and make ur profile picture a gorilla for the remainder of this school week. Please share this post so we can quietly and positively lift up our school out of this mess.
The statement about not talking to the media didn't last for long. Ownbey subsequently shared her views with the Canon City Daily Record and KKTV, KRDO's rival. Later, on Facebook, she spoke positively about the experience. Her first note reads: "Thank you Canon City Daily Record for putting both sides out there. That is fair and accurate reporting and all other news should take note!" A more recent item states, "I said I wouldn't talk to the media... but I caved... KKTV didn't air any of the story until they talked to me... and the reporter was such a sweetheart, couldn't say no. But KRDO... I told him I was kinda mad at them for blowing the story up so I wouldn't give them one. Hope it airs in the positive way I intended it to."
Judge for yourself. Here's the KKTV report, which should be viewable despite busting out of our blog software's frame, followed by a compilation of two KRDO pieces on Hunter.
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More from our Education archive: "Video: Hunter Yelton, six, suspended for sexual harassment after kissing classmate's hand."