BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The guardian of a northern Idaho fifth-grader was upset Thursday with a school’s response after she says a man entered a classroom, harassed and assaulted children and put her grandson in a chokehold.
Jerry Peery said other parents in rural Craigmont called police after hearing what happened from their children after classes let out Monday. She says school staff should have contacted authorities immediately.
Authorities in Lewis County are investigating, Lewis County Prosecutor Zachary Paul said, as are Highland School officials.
Peery says 36-year-old Byron Scott Edwards assaulted her 10-year-old grandson.
Edwards is in jail in neighboring Nez Perce County, where he has been held since being arrested Tuesday on felony theft and methamphetamine charges from Umatilla, Ore., according to jail officials. He has a history of felony convictions in Oregon, including for burglary, robbery and unauthorized use of vehicles.
Edwards was not available for comment Thursday. It was not clear whether he had an attorney.
Peery says Edwards entered the class Monday morning and became upset over something her grandson said to his son.
“He got very upset with the kids” and kicked some of her grandson’s friends, she said.
“He tripped my granddaughter, as she was going down the aisle. He put my grandson in a chokehold,” Peery said. “One of the students said his feet were off the floor, and another student told her mom, which got back to us, that his face turned purple.”
The teacher, a substitute, did nothing, Peery said. After about a half hour, a student went to the office and reported what was happening, she said.
Highland School Superintendent Cindy Orr would not confirm whether Edwards was in the school or release the identity of the teacher. She said she confronted a father outside the room after an unidentified student told her there were problems in the class.
“I went down there. He was coming out of the classroom,” Orr said. “He seemed frustrated but not agitated.”
Orr said that when the man left with his son, he was calm. She said she had no fears that he might harm the child. She said the man had followed the school’s procedures, including checking with her office before going to his son’s classroom.
The school has a policy of allowing parents into classrooms, provided they don’t cause a disruption, she said.
She said she was still trying to determine what had happened in the class when sheriff’s deputies arrived that afternoon.
Peery contends that isn’t good enough. She said her grandson was assaulted hours before police arrived at the school, plenty of time for staff to have called to make a report.
“The police were called only after the kids came home and started telling us parents what went wrong,” Peery said. “I would at least like an apology. I’d like the school to admit they were wrong.”
She said staff should have reacted more quickly, especially given recent attention to safety issues following last week’s mass school shooting in Connecticut where 20 young children and six school employees were killed.
Information from: KLEW-TV, http://www.klewtv.com/