A Philadelphia charter school abused its powers when it expelled a kindergartner for touching his teacher's thigh, a Common Pleas Court judge has ruled.
The unnamed 6-year-old touched the top of his teacher's thigh after she complained of leg pains, Judge Paul P. Panepinto wrote in his opinion.
While touching her legs, the child said "I want to make them feel better," testified Milissa Gillespie, the boy's teacher, who reported the incident.
The First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy in Bridesburg argued that the court does not have the right to overturn the school's decision.
Citing past cases, Panepinto ruled that he can, in fact, step in when the school commits a gross abuse of discretion.
"While the Court is reluctant to disturb a decision concerning how a school enforces its policies, it is this Court's opinion that their action here was arbitrary, capricious and prejudicial to the public interest," Panepinto wrote.
The student was expelled because it was his fourth suspension - a trigger that requires the school's board of trustees to consider expulsion.
The decision, issued in late May, came nearly 13 months after the student was expelled. Neither Gillespie nor charter school administrators immediately returned requests for comment.