VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) – A Virginia Beach mother is calling on SECEP school officials at Renaissance Academy to review its disciplinary procedures after she says her son was left out in the pouring rain for the entire school day.
Melody Criger told 13News Now her 16-year-old son was refused entry into the school because he was wearing a cross necklace which holds the ashes of his stepfather. She says it happened on the morning of Tuesday, May 30.
“They told him to take the necklace off and he refused, which I understand because it's sentimental to him. He didn't want to remove it. They told him if he didn’t remove it he couldn't come into class or school, so they told him to go outside,” she said.
SECEP schools prohibit students from wearing jewelry. But Criger says in no circumstance should a child be left outside in the pouring rain. She isn’t upset that her son was disciplined, but she says the manner in which he was disciplined was inhumane.
“They didn't offer him breakfast or lunch and he normally eats breakfast and lunch at school. So here he is-- not only did they not provide him an education, but they couldn't even provide him safety or shelter or even school lunch,” Criger said.
Criger says her son was given permission to wear the necklace to school last year after his stepfather passed away before the no jewelry policy was put in place.
Even more infuriating, Criger says the school didn’t notify her of the situation until four hours into the school day. When she checked her voicemail, it was too late—the school day was already over.
“If there was some way I could have known at 7:15, I could have left-- I was not even at work yet so I could have left straight from home and came to get him and he could have just stayed at home. He could have had shelter and food and been safe,” she said.
Criger says school officials eventually apologized, saying the situation was mishandled. But Criger says that’s not enough. She says this isn't the first time this has happened. During a summer session, she says her son was left out in the heat all day for refusing to wear a belt. She wants the school to take extra steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“I would like for someone to be reprimanded, retrained or something because there's nothing else they can do now the damage has already been done to my son. They can treat my child like this, they can probably treat someone else's child the same way,” she said.
13News Now spoke to a school official who said he could not comment specifically on any incident or student. However, he said the school’s policy does not call for leaving students outside the building when they are being disciplined. A student who doesn’t come to school in uniform is provided with a change of clothes. If he/she refuses to change, they are to be kept in a conference room with an administrator or the front office.