A Virginia woman faces up to five years in prison if she is convicted of putting a digital recorder in her daughter’s backpack to prove the girl was being bullied at school.
Sarah Sims, of Norfolk, told WAVY-TV that she tried multiple times to contact administrators at Ocean View Elementary School about the bullying her 9-year-old daughter was experiencing. When she got no response, she said, she took the matter into her own hands.
“If I’m not getting an answer from you, what am I left to do?” Sims told the news station.
Sims said she put the recorder in her daughter’s bag with the hope that it would capture audio of what her daughter was dealing with in the classroom. The recorder was discovered by school staff.
The girl was moved to a new classroom and, about a month after the incident, Sims was charged by police, WAVY-TV reported.
Sims is charged with the use of a device to intercept oral communications, which is a felony. She is also charged with misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Norfolk Public Schools has a policy against electronic devices in its elementary schools, the news station reported.
Sims said she was “mortified” by the charges.
“Next thing I know, I’m a felon,” Sims said. “Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”
Sims’ attorney, Kristin Paulding, told WAVY-TV that the charges were a stretch.
“They aren’t making this about that classroom. There are charges that carry jail time,” Paulding said. “Instead of comforting her (about the alleged bullying), she’s going to a magistrate and being handcuffed.”
Sims is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in January. In the meantime, the mother said she is most bothered by the lack of response she received on her daughter’s complaints of being bullied.
“I tried to be fair, but it’s not fair,” Sims told WAVY-TV. “There is nothing fair about this.”
Officials with the school district declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.