Veronica Goss is the first person to admit that her son, Walter Ransome, made a big mistake in the stairwell of Francis Pastorius Elementary School the week before Thanksgiving.
Walter, a tall, lean boy with a shelf full of trophies from a Christian Youth Basketball Association, agrees that he was foolish that afternoon.
Before going to the after-school program at his Germantown school, Walter, 13, and an eighth-grade female classmate stopped in the stairwell.
It was there that that they briefly had sexual intercourse. Walter got kicked out of school for the incident. The girl stayed in school. Now, Goss is demanding to know why.
"I'm not going against the school board whatsoever. Punish these children the way they are supposed to be punished, but don't just punish one and not the other when they both were involved. That's not fair," she said.
In an e-mailed statement, Fernando Gallard, the district's director of media relations, said:
"Pastorius Elementary School is actively investigating an incident involving inappropriate sexual contact between students at an afterschool program at the school. All students involved in the incident will face disciplinary action in accordance to the district's Code of Student Conduct.
"The disciplinary process is executed relative to each student's case history and background and in accordance with the law. Due to students' privacy rights under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the district cannot provide further details on this incident."
Gallard and Cecilia Cummings, his boss, declined to say what punishment, if any, the girl has faced.
Pastorius, a kindergarten- through eighth-grade school on Sprague Street near Stenton Avenue, has been abuzz about the incident since it happened. Student gossip reached teachers and finally the assistant principal, who on Dec. 5 suspended Walter for five days, Goss said.
On Monday, Goss went to the school as instructed to meet with Assistant Principal Steven Hawkins about the incident and, she believed, to get Walter back in school.
Instead, she was told that Walter's suspension would be extended through the end of this week. Goss said Hawkins told her the school would be sending her a letter concerning Walter's fate.
The fact that her son was suspended for 10 days - considering what he did - was acceptable, said Goss, who has three younger children.
But what was not acceptable, she believes, is that the girl involved was allowed to stay in school, which she also learned on Monday.
This seeming inequity upset Goss so much that she called the Daily News Monday night.
"I know he was wrong, he knows he was wrong. That part is resolved," Goss said.
"But how come the little girl is not wrong? She participated in a sexual act also," Goss, 34, continued.
Hawkins referred questions to Principal Kimberly Weston-Williams, who then referred all questions to the district's Office of Communications.
District officials said they were not sure if the stairwell incident was captured on the school's surveillance cameras that constantly relay images from the school's grounds, stairwells and hallways to a monitor in the main office.
"We don't know, we'll have to get back to you on that," Cummings said.
Walter said he spends his days watching television, reading the newspaper and waiting for his friends to come home from school.
He, like his mother, believes the school was wrong to bar just him from school. Now he's worried that his typically "C" and "B" grades will suffer.
"Yes, I think I should be suspended, but I think she should be suspended too because she was in it too. All she had to say is she didn't want to do nothing, then it just would have been over," he said.
Besides her son, Goss said other male students have been suspended for sexual activity while the girls involved have been allowed to remain in school.
Walter noted that two other boys who engaged in "touching" another girl on a different part of the stairwell the day of his incident were also suspended, while the girl was not.
Goss said a school employee told her that sexual activity is so rampant among some students that girls have been found with sexual contracts stipulating to whom they wanted to lose their virginity.
"Who the boys and girls are, we didn't get all into that. But this is what he said to me and I'm like, shocked. Like I can't believe I'm hearing this," Goss said.
The school of 679 students suffers from a lack of adult supervision, said Goss, who noted there is just one school police officer and no nonteaching assistants on staff.
Making matters worse, she said, students in grades six through eight are crowded together on the school's third floor. Those three grades were added to the former elementary school over the last several years.
When provided with the names of three other boys whom Goss said had been suspended for sexual contact with girls who were not disciplined, Gallard referred to his previous statement.
He said the school has a record of two other morals offenses this year.
Concerning the sexual contract allegation, Gallard said: "The school has no knowledge and no evidence of sexual contracts." *