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FSUS Agrees to Allow First Grader to Return to School

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University Schools, Inc. (FSUS), a public K-12 charter school, rescinded their decision to involuntarily withdraw a 6-year-old Latino student for allegedly throwing a tantrum, according to a settlement agreement signed on Friday, Nov. 18 between the school and the student’s parents.

“I am glad that we were able to come to an agreement and hopefully move past this awful situation,” said Cecilia Chouhy, the child’s mother. "We have a long road ahead trying to rebuild trust and helping my son heal and reintegrate to school after missing six weeks of class. It is heartening to see that the school is moving in the right direction and working so that this does not happen to any other child in the future."

Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) appealed the school’s decision to expel the student, stating that it violated the student’s due process rights and was an excessive response to a routine disciplinary issue in which no one reported serious injury. The school accused the 6-year-old of hitting his physical education teacher for taking his Pokémon card.

While the appeal was pending, the counsel for the parties engaged in constructive settlement discussions, which resulted in a mutually agreeable resolution of this matter. The child was allowed back to school on Nov. 7 as part of the agreement.

FSUS also agreed to place the student in a different first-grade classroom and with another physical education teacher. The school will investigate whether the student was bullied and assess his needs for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). In addition, FSUS attorneys will review the FSUS Student Conduct Code to ensure that it adheres to due process requirements.

“We are thrilled with this outcome,” said SPLC Senior Attorney Abel S. Delgado. “Our client will be able to continue his education at FSUS, and the school will remedy the actions taken against him. FSUS has also committed itself to conduct a thorough review of the school’s discipline policies and practices so that this does not happen again.”