Mother: Fifth-grader punished for creating backpack petition

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SEARCY, Ark.  – An Arkansas mother is furious after she says her fifth-grader was punished for starting a classroom petition.

At Southwest Middle School, teachers come up with their own individual classroom rules.

In two of her classes, Faeth McLemore was told she could not use her backpack.

“Why not? I mean, they spent money to get me it and, like, everyone else gets to use it but our two classes don’t,” McLemore said.

On Friday, McLemore created a ‘backpack usage form’ to petition the rule.

“We, the students of Mrs. Parrott’s class, would like to start using our backpacks all day long starting immediately,” the form read.

It requests a student’s signature, guardian’s signature and the date.

On Monday, the petition landed McLemore with three detentions.

“She got punished not really knowing why. They kind of stated that she was supposed to have permission when there was nothing really saying anywhere in the handbook where she was supposed to go do such things,” said Candice Smith, McLemore’s mother.

According to the handbook, students are allowed to sign petitions.

It also says the “principal of the individual schools shall have the responsibility of providing a central location where petitions may be signed.”

However, it does not list a series of steps for creating a petition.

“I didn’t feel like she was in the wrong. I mean, the child wanted to use her backpack like everybody else,” Smith said.

Smith and the school came to an agreement about a punishment.

Instead of detention, McLemore has to write a letter explaining what she learned.

“That I have to keep fighting. If someone pushes me down, just get back up,” she said.

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