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11/12/2012 6:01:00 AM
Family of 5-year-old loses faith in Kingman school district
Policy not followed, La Senita official admits
AHRON SHERMAN/Miner
Lewis Thompson and son Johnny.
AHRON SHERMAN/Miner
Lewis Thompson and son Johnny.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter


Kindergarten is supposed to be fun, but for 5-year-old Johnny it's been more of a nightmare.

Johnny's mother and father, Lewis and Tiffany Thompson, officially withdrew him from La Senita Elementary on Nov. 2 after Johnny told them his teacher had smacked him in the back of the head on Oct. 29. Though the teacher denies it happened and the school and district completed an investigation that failed to prove Johnny's allegation, Lewis and Tiffany Thompson believe their son is telling the truth.

"It made me want to cry," Johnny said.

This incident doesn't tell the whole story of the problems the family faced at the school this year, as Johnny was seriously ill more than a month before and the same teacher refused to send him to the nurse. In both situations, the school admits that policy wasn't followed.

On Oct. 29, Johnny was standing in line with other students when the teacher allegedly hit him. He told his parents what happened that night before bed. Tiffany Thompson and Johnny went to the school the next day and spoke to Assistant Principal Shelley Oestmann about the alleged incident.

Oestmann said she couldn't get a sense of who was around Johnny at the time of the alleged incident, and nothing was sticking out in anybody's mind from that day. Without planting information or leading them to a conclusion, Oestmann said she conversationally asked students from the class if they remembered anything happening that day in line. None of them were able to corroborate Johnny's story, she said.

"I have thoroughly investigated this," she said.

The alleged smack wasn't enough for Lewis and Tiffany Thompson to pull Johnny out of the school, but after they didn't hear back from Pat Mickelson, the school's principal, they made the decision.

Mickelson said the Thompsons had requested Johnny be moved to a different class, and as she scrambled to find a better fit for him she held off calling them back. Looking back, she admits that decision was a mistake.

"I could've done better," she said. "I realize we've lost their trust."

The teacher in question has worked for the district for a decade. She has no incidents in her file that resemble the Thompsons' accusations. From Kingman Unified School District's perspective, the investigation is done.

The district does have a policy that says teachers are not allowed to hit students, said KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks.

This isn't the Thompsons first run-in with the school.

On Sept. 11, Johnny went to school feeling fine. But he started feeling sick as the day wore on and complained about it to the same teacher he says hit him.

He was not sent to the nurse.

Boy suffers a seizure

When school let out, Johnny was making his way to the bus when he suffered a seizure and fell on the concrete.

An ambulance was called, and Johnny went to Kingman Regional Medical Center. No one from the school accompanied him.

Lewis Thompson received a call from the school and was able to beat the ambulance to the hospital. Once it arrived, he saw his son being questioned by the medical workers and was surprised to see that no one from the school had accompanied him, he said.

"He was scared out of his mind," Lewis Thompson said.

The district has another policy that says children are the school's responsibility until they're passed off to their parents. Someone should've taken the ambulance ride with him, Jacks said.

Additionally, it's not a teachers place to decide whether or not a student is ill. Johnny should've been sent to the nurse when he complained of being sick, Jacks said.

"That's why we have nurses," Jacks said.

At the emergency room, it was revealed that Johnny had a temperature of 104, Lewis Thompson said.

When he was younger, Johnny suffered from febrile seizures, which are convulsions brought on by high fevers in infants and small children, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

It had been nearly three years since he suffered one, and since doctors told the family he'd outgrow them, the information was not in Johnny's file, Lewis Thompson said.

The school and teacher in question admitted that the situation was handled poorly.

Jacks said teachers and administrators throughout the district have been reminded of the rules when it comes to sick kids, and has made it clear that whether or not a child is sick is not for teachers to decide.

Despite everything and the fact Johnny was just having a rough year, the Thompsons remained reluctant to yank him out of school.

But the lack of communication and the feeling that the hitting incident was not being taken seriously was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"I'm so disgusted with the way this was handled," Lewis Thompson said.

No matter what is done to correct the problems, the Thompsons will not be enrolling Johnny at any KUSD school. Their plan is to home school him until he's either accepted at the Kingman Academy of Learning or they move out of town, Tiffany Thompson said.

"Johnny is not the type of kid who makes accusations or lies," Tiffany Thompson said. "He says (the teacher) hit him and I believe my son."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: I see nothing Has changed

I had the same problems with my son .. They didn't like to help with the problem, but sure loved the parents involvement when they needed something.. I was in the middle school seemed like everyday when mine was there. Wonder when someone in the school district will speak up for our children.... I have a grandson three now and worry everyday about him In the schools here...hoping to get him into the academy for pre school , so he stays there.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Gabby B

It seems like many of you have a valid complaint against KUSD teachers....
Why don't you all get together and take your complaints to the school board and push for change in the education system.... teachers aren't supposed to hit, degrade, or abuse your children... they are supposed to teach!
File complaints with the school board, make your voice count, and work toward change!
You can't do it through the news media.


Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Mother of a Kindergarten

I agree about this school system and the faculty. My daughter is 5 and of course in kindergarten, she is Lactose intolerant and can only handle Almond Milk since for some reason even Soy messes with her stomach. I found out couple weeks ago they have been giving her soy all year, the cafeteria lady wrote on the computer : "NO milk, Only soy, No juice", like seriously no juice? i complained big time and got it corrected. Before this issue, she jammed her finger in PE and was told to sit on the wall, they never sent her to the nurse and ended up in ER the next morning for a splint cuz her finger was practically black it was so bruised. I also just found out apparently according to the teachers at school my daughter has a lieing problem and has been lieing to everyone.... i don't know if this is true now or not since we have always believed her (never saw a reason to doubt) but now after reading this im questioning everything. Our daughter is going to finish out kindergarten for now at the school but is being home schooled once she hits 1st grade

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Been There Done That

Make a complaint to the Arizona Board of Nursing against the "nurse". I had to do this last year when my son fell off a toy at recess (8am). Was "checked" out by the nurse and sent to class. I get a phone call at 230pm saying to come get him. When I get there he is screaming in pain. The nurse says that I need to get him to the doctor because he has an ear infection. I find out in the ER that he fell. Instead of the pressure forming a goose egg it internalized causing his ears to depressurize and damaged his ear drums not to mention the massive consussion he received. When I brought it up to the nurse and the principle I was told "well I checked him out he was fine." Who's decision is it to make medical decisions for my son? Me! Not to mention he was bullied by a Mexican kid and as the other child puts it "I can pick on you because you are white." Brought that to the principles attention and was told "boys will be boys." My son also came home and said his teacher is allowed to be mean because she's pregnant. Again, brought this to the principles attention and was told "I'm sure you can relate to how moody you can get while being pregnant and especially around small children." o_O Really? Needless to say after the concussion issue I withdrew my son only to find out that he had been late 8x since the begining of the year because the bus was late. School started at 845 and he didnt show up until 10am! KUSD is a joke and they will continue on until they get a gigantic lawsuit slapped on them. My son now attends K12 online public school and I recommend that to EVERYONE!!

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: one mad mommy

I think there is some thing seriously wrong with KUSD's school system. Our family is going through the same thing with my niece. she is being bullied on the play ground and no one is doing any thing about it, then she gets in trouble for standing up for herself. she is also being bullied by a teacher who has been singling her out and prolonging her punishments for days because she doesn't think it was a good enough punishment, she comes home in complete hystarics, and is afraid to express how she feels to teachers or the principal because she is afraid of getting into more trouble.... Something needs to be done about the teachers.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Kandra Bowman

I had some horrible circumstances with that school as well a few years ago. As well as Cerbat and my daughter was dropped off alone in pedophile alley...HUGE issue. I have to say though that I put my kids in Huallipi they were there for a few years before we moved away and had no issues, and loved the teaches and everything about it. Maybe as a idea. Good luck in your sons journey.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Sunny B

Geeze!! Teachers becoming bullies!! GOOD JOB to the parents for believing your son. Its good to read of positive parenting but yet to read of another incident in the KUSD. Just last week a student in 5th grd swolled a quarter so the teach at manzanita got some quarters out of her wallet & threw it on the students desk and told the student "here since you like quarters so much"...those with children and have a good teacher be thankful! a good teacher here in KUSD is getting to be hard to find...sad but true...

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Not Surprised

It is a shame this little guy has to start out his school experience this way. I would be contacting the Arizona Dept of Education. (azed.gov) and telling them of your concerns.
And another option is the Christian Schools.
Best of luck to this little guy, school should not be scarry.
I have had similar happen to my daughters (first grade then) at a different school here in Kingman. Shaken, failure to help with work where help was needed. (Told unless they asked for help they wouldn't help to teach the work), containers that said "Ashes of Problem Children" on their desk (never removed from classroom). I was lucky enough to move my girls to different classes after these inccidents.
Even had a school disclose private information out of their file to the public. Had to do a lot of explaining to a very upset child whom was too young to be giving that sort of information from a stranger.


Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: no small matter mr.c.

Without question, these incidences indicate something is wrong here. Just what that something is, is a horse of different color. The school failed this child big time, when he was sent to the hospital with out someone of authority accompany him and they don't get a passing grade when they failed a second time, by not following up with parents on the other matters. The miner by the way, in my (opinion) put together a balanced article. Way to go miner........:)

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: J J

This is outrageous. What a bunch of nonsense from the school/district. I've noticed this overriding sense of self-importance from teachers/staff at schools growing over the years. Yes, teachers are underpaid and deserve better, but it seems to me that many of them are there to bully children, not do their jobs. Sounds an awful lot like certain police officers that get the job so they can feel "powerful" for once in their tiny existences.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Cynthia Hubbard

That is so wrong teacher don't have the right to hit kids in back of the head or not let them go to the nurse when they don't feel good. Teachers are getting to be bullies too. That teacher and the Principal should be fired . Sound like that poor kid had a friends their they didn't stand up for him when this was going on being hit. WOW . If it isn't another kid being bully it is the teacher's. So everyone will take their kids out from that School I wouldn't trust that school again. Sound like they have alonely Liars there.


Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: concerned mother

I have had problems with KUSD myself. That is why I am also homeschooling this year. There is too many problems with bullying at the schools and teachers and principals not knowing what they are doing.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: daisey duke

now , that is whats called good parenting !!!!
listen to your kids !!!!! no one has the right to put there hands on anybody !!!! to much going on in these schools, open your eyes. i hope johnny is ok, god speed little man


Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: diana morris

I have heard so many stories about that school it would make your head spin.For that teacher it does not matter how long they have been a teacher at that school with no problems it jus takes one time that a student is not scared to tell their parents.I am glad my kids are grown now . For Lice senita that is what it generally called by alot of people. They need to start showing and stepping up to help these students who look up to them that they actually care about teaching them and it not another pay check.And for that little boy thank god he is ok.For the parents I applaude you for stepping up and listening to your kid .

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: JC Smith

I believe it happened. In 2005 I was working in a special education class and saw a teacher spank a child..I reported the spanking and was fired. I am sorry to hear about your son. We have good teachers but we also have people who should not be teaching.

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Mother of 3

I must applaud these parents. Listen to your children! Not saying cover up for them when they do wrong, but know your child, Know what is truth and what is not from your kids. To many parents dump their kids off at school and alllow the district to raise them. I had a teacher in Jr.High swear at me repeatedly and call me names in the hallway,of coarse no one but us were out there and when I took it to the princaple he bold faced lied and dennied it, and whatever a teacher says must be true! So he smiled at me as I left the office knowing he made me look like a fool, never told my dad because I knew he wouldnt believe me. My 5 yr old happens to have a great teacher but I keep my eye on her and my preschoolers surrondings and teachers. I must know every minute of their day when they get home. I also know my kids well enough to know what is truth and what isnt. Sounds like these parents do as well.


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