According to a report from Local 15 News, the mother of a 5-year-old at E.R. Dickson School was upset after the child was asked to sign a contract promising that she would not kill or injure herself and others.
The mother, identified only as Rebecca, said the kindergartner was asked to sign the contract without her consent, and was also given a questionnaire to evaluate her for suicidal thoughts.
School officials had to send the child home after an incident in class, the report said, in which the child drew “something that resembled a gun” and “pointed a crayon at another student and said, ‘pew pew.'”
On Friday, Mobile County school system Superintendent Martha Peek said the incident would be evaluated.
The school counselor used the system-wide safety protocol that school system officials were instructed to use in any situation in which “a student indicates they may be considering any actions such as hurting themselves or hurting someone else,” she said. “Unfortunately, with this incident, the one size fits all.”
“I think if we had stepped back and looked at the situation and that others could have been involved — if the principal had known about it — we could have probably had some additional guidance,” she said.
NBC.com picked up the report, which quickly made the rounds on social media.
The Fox News version is headlined “5-year-old forced to sign suicide contract.”
The version on Reason.com, authored by Robby Soave, has the headline, “Little Girl Points Crayon at Classmate, School Makes Her Sign Contract Promising Not to Kill Anyone.”
The piece begins: “Stories of public schools dishing out ridiculous punishments to students who did absolutely nothing wrong generally fail to shock me at this point. They have to clear a very high bar of absurdity to be even noteworthy, given how common they are.”
The mother told Local 15 that she wished the situation had been handled differently.
“If this is protocol, it needs to be looked at again,” she was quoted in the report.
On Friday, Peek said that school safety issues “should be evaluated situation by situation.”
“We’re reacting to the parent’s concern and also looking at it as doing what we need to do that’s best for every age of the children in our school system — and that’s to make sure that what we do is developmentally appropriate,” she said.
Peek said that she wants to encourage anyone with a concern to bring it to the attention of school officials. “We want to interact and address those concerns,” she said. “We didn’t have an opportunity to interact with this before it became a media story. We’d like to have that opportunity to do that.”
The safety policy “will be reworked,” she said.
The instance of a kindergartner being asked to sign a contract “is very much an atypical situation,” Peek added. “We’ve not had a situation of this nature that I am aware of. We’ll work to make sure that we address this.”