County School officials have denied allegations by the family of an autistic child at East Ridge Elementary that the child was punished for "hugging" another child.
The family said they felt the child was being labeled as a "sexual predator" after hugging one child and kissing another.
School officials said, "Hamilton County Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students.
Our school leaders work to serve our families and meet the needs of our diverse learners. This family's characterization of the incident with their child at East Ridge Elementary does not capture the full context of the concerns expressed to them by the school. It was not a hug or kiss that prompted the school to contact the family. Also, at no time did the school administration punish the child or treat the incident as a discipline issue. Moreover, no one at the school sought to label the child as 'a sexual predator.'
"Hamilton County Schools is bound by student privacy laws that do not allow us to discuss publicly specific details of what happened in the classroom setting with the child. Of course, at the family's direction and with their written approval, the district would be able to provide to interested parties documentation of the issues the school discussed with them.
"The staff at East Ridge Elementary always elects to take action that places the concern for the child as their top priority - which is also required by our district policies and state laws. School leaders are only interested in the well-being of this very young child as he grows and learns with his classmates. The faculty and staff will continue to ensure that this child and every child in our care receives an excellent education in a safe, supportive learning environment."