Does she really deserve prison time for this?
Due to awareness-raising efforts about bullying over the past years, parents are more vigilant about identifying when their children are being victimized and doing their best to stop it. Many schools have tried to end bullying as well, but some schools don’t seem to be as responsive. One mom in Virginia took matters into her own hands to find out what was going on in her daughter’s classroom, but she’s the one who wound up behind bars.
Sarah Sims said that her nine-year-old daughter kept complaining to her about bullies in her classroom. Not only that, her teacher wasn’t helping the situation and may have been making it worse. Like any concerned parent would do, Sarah tried to contact the school’s administrative staff, but she got no response after trying over and over again. So, she took another step…
The girl’s mom had a reason to be concerned about her daughter’s welfare. The girl was kicked in the stomach and hit with a jump rope at school the previous year, but the school did not contact Sarah about it. “[My daughter] became very anxious about attending. I removed her from the school because she was refusing to go. She felt like she wasn’t protected,” the mother explained.
Sarah is a full-time college student at Norfolk State University, just days away from receiving her degree. She couldn’t skip classes in order to keep her daughter home until the situation was resolved. Sarah did the only thing she could think of that wouldn’t be intrusive, but would help her figure out what was really going on.
Sarah put a digital audio recorder in her daughter’s backpack and sent her back to her fourth-grade class at Ocean View Elementary in Norfolk, Virginia. The concerned mom wanted to hear what was really being said to her daughter whether she was being bullied or not. Sarah told CNN, “I did not want to just side with my child. I wanted to be fair. I felt like I kind of let her down a little bit because I wasn’t believing her.”
Somehow, the teacher found the device in the girl’s desk and confiscated it, and subsequently told the school’s officials about it. They didn’t call Sarah to talk to her about why she stashed a recorder in her daughter’s bag. Instead, they called the police.
Sarah was arrested and charged with felony intercepting wire, electronic, or oral communications and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She expressed her shock, “I was mortified. The next thing I know I’m a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid.”
Sarah is not being held in jail, but she has to go to court in January to argue the charges which could land her in prison for up to five years. Sarah’s attorney Kristin Paulding feels that the charges won’t hold up in court once they hear why Sarah did what she did.
“I was appalled when I heard these charges. I was shocked to see that the school would decide to go to the police department and ultimately charge this mother as opposed to sitting her down and having just a simple conversation about what were her concerns,” Kristin said.
Sarah’s case may be dismissed completely — Virginia is a one-party consent state where people don’t have to consent to being recorded as long as one person in the conversation knows about it. The elementary school and the school district have refused to comment on what happened, but have said that they don’t allow such devices in school.
Do you think that Sarah should be jailed for simply recording what was going on in her daughter’s classroom? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this story.