Parents frustrated with school punishment

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CHARLOTTE, MI (WILX) -- A violent assault on a 6-year-old girl results in a half-day suspension for the classmate who attacked her.

Chelsey and Dustin Montgomery were called into Charlotte's Galewood Elementary Friday morning and were told their daughter was attacked and choked by another student.

They're not happy the administration didn't send a stronger message.

"They're 6-years-old. They should be able to feel like they can be safe in their classroom. Our daughter doesn't feel safe all the time," said Chelsey Montgomery, Milaya's mom.

Part of the reason the Montgomerys say their daughter doesn't feel safe is because of the punishment that was given to the student who attacked her, which was a half-day suspension. They don't think that punishment was enough.

"No one wants to hear that their child has been hurt," said Charlotte Public Schools Superintendent Mandy Stewart.

Stewart said she understands the Montgomerys frustration, but said the district has to consider several factors before doling out punishment, especially with students who are young.

"It's our duty to make sure that all students have access to instruction," Stewart said. "We also want to make sure that the students are safe, and that they have appropriate discipline. No one wants to hear that their child misbehaved. Those are really difficult things for a parent to hear. We're trying to increase our communication when there's a concern that is of this high level."

The Montgomerys said they're not mad at the student or the teacher for how she handled the incident, but they think the district needs to do a better job with certain students.

"I hurt for the teacher. That has to weigh on the teacher too, to have that stuff happen in the classroom. The school systems need to look at getting more help for kids that need more help," Chelsea said.

The superintendent is asking parents to trust her and the staff because they can't always get into a student's personal details that may lead to controversial punishments like this one.

"If we can get to the place where we can trust each other to do the right things for our kids, I think we'll have a more positive district, and we'll be able to serve our students," Stewart said.

"Educators are first supposed to provide a safe learning environment. It doesn't sound like there is one," said Dustin Montgomery, Milaya's father.

Some of the factors that go into determining punishment for an incident like this include the child's age and past behavior.

The superintendent said schools nationwide are seeing increased aggression and bad behavior among younger students.

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