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Family hires attorney after girl receives detention for hugging classmate

Students ‘should be encouraged to be kind,’ attorney says

Author: Justin Warmoth, Weekend Morning Anchor/Reporter,
Dawn Brooks, Online Editor, Producer

Published On: Nov 04 2015

OVIEDO, Fla. –
The family of a girl who was given detention for hugging a classmate has hired an attorney.

In a news release from the attorney’s office, Morgan & Morgan, Matt Morgan said the law firm was hired to help raise awareness about the issue.

Hug gets Oviedo student detention
Parents meet with principal after girl gets detention for…

The incident happened Monday at Jackson Heights Middle School in Oviedo.

“I’m definitely hoping that we’re bringing light to this subject,” said Kathy Fishbough, whose daughter, Ella, was punished. “I really didn’t expect this.”

Morgan said he believes that there may be policies in place that discourage children from being kind to one another.

“According to these alleged policies and procedures, a simple hug given to a friend in their time of need is apparently worthy of reprimand,” the law office said in a statement. “We believe this conduct sends the wrong message to our children. They should be encouraged to be kind, not discouraged. The family hopes to bring awareness to this issue in an attempt to make our school systems a more compassionate and loving place for children to spend their days.”

Since News 6’s story first aired, Fishbough said the family has been bombarded with interview requests from national media.

Seminole County School District spokesman Michael Lawrence told News 6 on Wednesday that while the district has been criticized for banning hugs, the real issue is how far students can go in showing affection.

“If you’re hugging your friends, you just won a big game, they’re all mobbing you and giving you a hug, or you just saw your friend over the summer and you’re greeting them briefly for the first time, that’s OK,” he said.

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However, Jackson Heights’ planner, which is given to all students, clearly states “no hugging.” Lawrence admitted that that statement might go too far.

“They get those planners year after year,” Lawrence said. “That’s something that we will review, and if it needs clarification, we can tweak the verbiage of that particular area.”

In the meantime, the Fishboughs will meet Thursday with the principal and will get to see school security video that captured the controversial hug.

“I’m hoping to have a better understanding of what was witnessed, what took place, and maybe then we can shine a little light on both sides of the story and come together as adults and figure out what we can do from here forward,” Fishbough said.

Ella’s detention is set for Friday. Her mother told News 6 that no matter what happens in the coming days, her daughter will serve the punishment because she broke the rules.


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