Been Caught Kissing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/26/04

Been Caught Kissing

Autumn Smith attends preschool at Saint Peters Catholic School in Pascagoula. On any other day she would be in class learning her ABCs and 123s, but not on Friday. The two year old was suspended the day before.

Autumn's mother Tiffany was shocked when she read the note her daughter brought home. It told her Autumn had been suspended for one day. Her crime? Kissing a three year old classmate who just happened to be her cousin.

"My first reaction was that this is ludicrous and how could I possibly explain to her that you're not allowed to go to school tomorrow because you were suspended for kissing another student," said Tiffany Smith.

Smith contacted the school's principal in hopes she would receive an explanation.

"They pretty much told me... it was inappropriate and as long as she displayed this behavior she would continually be sent home," says Smith.

Smith works during the day as an in-home care nurse and had to leave her daughter with her great grandmother. She was going to let the situation blow over until she saw how it had effected her daughter.

"I told her to come give me a hug and kiss as I always do and she looked at me with such confusion in her eyes," says Smith.

"It was as if [she were asking] 'what am I supposed to do? Is it okay for me to kiss you? Is it not okay? Because yesterday, I got reprimanded for kissing so now I'm confused.' That hurt me so deeply."

Administrators at Saint Peters declined to comment on the situation and referred WLOX to Shirley Henderson, a spokesperson for the school.

Henderson said Saint Peters took the appropriate action and decided to do so after some parents complained about the two year old's behavior. Henderson wouldn't comment on how many parents had complained or when those complaints were filed.

Autumn's mother says she doesn't understand how the school could find fault in what she calls an innocent display of affection.

"She's a very friendly child and that's how she shows affection and that's all she knows. I'm not sure that it's wrong," says Smith.

by Josh Ridgdell

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