Thea-Marie Perkins says her 7-year-old son Soloman’s civil rights were violated after he was wrongfully accused at his Saugus elementary school when a boy who bullied him told a teacher that he had a gun in his backpack.
Soloman went to Tesoro del Valle Elementary School on Feb. 13 with a backpack full of Valentine’s Day cards to pass out to his friends, his mother said.
He was outside during a fire drill talking to a boy who had been bullying him, when the boy ran to a teacher and said Soloman had a gun in his backpack, according to Perkins. The teacher immediately told the school’s principal, who looked through Soloman’s backpack.
There were no weapons found but administrators still called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“My son said that he had a Nerf slingshot,” Perkins said. “My child is not allowed to play with weapons, nor is he allowed to play with guns. They’re not anywhere in the house.”
She says that though Soloman was questioned by six deputies, no one immediately notified her.
A staff member eventually called to tell her her son was being detained, Perkins said.
“They had already violated my civil rights. They violated my son’s civil rights. They sequestered him. They questioned him without me,” she said.
Soloman has special learning needs and is a part of an individualized education program that requires a para-professional to be by his side during class. But his mother says that person was talking to a teacher at the time of the incident.
“He likes to process information quickly. He has a lot of energy,” his mother said.
The 7-year-old plays basketball, soccer and is a published author who has written a children’s book called “Soloman’s Socks.”
Perkins says the school is made up of predominantly white students and her family is one of the few African American families in the community. She said she thinks this incident was a matter of racism, where a teacher took the word of a white child who she says had been harassing her black son.
“I’m insulted. I’m offended. I’ve been disrespected. My civil rights have been violated,” Perkins said. “I can’t tolerate this. It has to stop.”
His mother says the school sent out a note, saying, “As many of you may be aware we have had law enforcement on campus today. All of our students are safe and the school day is progressing as normal.”
However, Perkins said she is still waiting for a public apology from the Saugus Union School District to clear her son’s name.