Missouri School Gives Controversial Punishment to Down Syndrome Teen

The small Park Hills School District in south central Missouri has come under fire for punishing a middle school student with Down syndrome. KSDK reports 14-year-old Aleczander Fujimoto has been suspended from school due to alleged sexual harassment. An incident happened on the school bus on the way home from school. Supposedly, Aleczander was giving a school bus aide a hug but then proceeded to “mimic a sex act” while hugging her.

Here are the facts of the case as reported so far.

* Parkland News states the boy’s mother, Tonia Fujimoto, has gotten disparate information from the Park Hills School District. First the school said there was an audio tape. Then Fujimoto alleges the district said there was no tape whatsoever.

* The school district handed Fujimoto a note of the incident. It stated Alec approached the bus aide for a hug. When she refused, she tried to push the student off of her. Allegedly, Alec then laid on her and mimicked a sex act. When the two were separated, Alec then ran to the back of the bus and refused to get off at his stop.

* One witness recalls what happened and tells a different story. A woman named Phyllis, who refused to give her last name, said she witnessed the event as the bus was dropping off Alec from school. The bus stopped beyond Alec’s normal stop. The aide, the bus driver and the student’s home health care worker laughed about Alec’s refusal to get off the bus when the driver said jokingly would have to go back to school. At that point, Alec supposedly took the driver seriously and ran to the back of the bus. All of this happened directly after Phyllis claims saw Alec hugging the aide while he was jumping up and down in a vertical position, not laying down as the school alleges.

* The home health care worker also said that no one on the school bus said anything to her about inappropriate behavior whatsoever. Nor was Fujimoto informed until the next day.

* The school district has no official comment on the matter and referred the case to the juvenile authorities.

* Alec’s mother says he has Down syndrome and doesn’t understand what happened or why he can’t go to school.

* The National Down Syndrome Society states the disorder is a birth defect that affects the physical, emotional and social development of children. In mothers over age 40, the incidence of Down syndrome is 1 in every 100 births.

* Park Hills, Mo., is situated in St. Francois County south of St. Louis with a population of nearly 8,000 residents in the city. Nearby are the scenic Ozark Mountains with some of the highest points in the state. The area is popular with campers and hikers.

William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.

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