Parents press for charges after second grader slammed at school

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By Alex Goldsmith – RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A clash between two seven year old students led to a drama between the grownups at Puesta del Sol Elementary School in Rio Rancho.

It happened earlier this month although accounts of what started it all vary. Jakob Shepard, 7, was slammed to the ground onto his head by another second grader at school.

"They had been walking in a school line from recess and it was unprovoked," said Sandra Shepard, Jakob's mom.

According to a police report, the other boy told school staff that Jakob was trying to punch him in the crotch when he defended himself with the take-down.

Either way, Jakob ended up in the nurse's office. Assessments of that injury from there differed as well. The nurse described it in a report as a scrape to his head that wasn't bleeding. A police officer described it as a bump on the head with a cut or a scrape.

"I saw a golf ball sized lump with an oozing wound on top of this head," Sandra Shepard said. "He may not have been severely injured but he did sustain a head injury."

Not satisfied with the school's response or the nurse's assessment of the injury, both of Jakob's parents showed up at school and Jakob's dad Jason called Rio Rancho Police in. A police report describes them as "verbally aggressive" toward school staff.

The police report indicates that boy, who did not have a history of violence per the school, was suspended from school for one day as a punishment.

That wasn't enough for the Shepards, who are pressing for battery charges against the boy who slammed their son.

"We just can't let a bully become a bully because of his age," Shepard said. "Not that I expect a 7-year-old to be arrested but I expect there to be a severe enough consequence that we're not creating an atmosphere where it's okay to do this in the future."

Most parents KRQE News 13 spoke to about the incident thought calling police was going a step too far.

"They are just kids," said Tara Gonzales. "Take away recess, take away normal things that kids like in school, but cops is a little too far I believe."

"I think the parents should hash it out peaceably," said Hector Piñero.

"I think that as parents we need to trust that principals and teachers, especially in the lower grade levels, you know that they're equipped to handle situations like that," said David Hightower.

One person agreed with getting law enforcement involved.

"That's just too much for a 7-year-old: to have that much anger to do that to another child," said Catherine Romero. "It's a 7-year-old but I guess you have to do what you have to do and if you need to call the police to get the problem resolved…"

That case has been forwarded to Juvenile Probation for review.

The Shepards also believe that boy's suspension needed to be longer than a day, pointing to the student handbook.

That one day suspension would be in line with a first offense for "physical or aggressive contact toward a student" but the Shepards think "Assault/Battery of a staff member or student" is more applicable, which would carry 6-8 days suspension for a first offense.

Rio Rancho Public Schools declined to comment on this specific incident but a spokesperson did tell KRQE News 13 that staff members consider a number of factors when deciding which of those standards should be used for punishment, including age of the student, severity of the incident, past history of the student and more.