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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Samaya Dillard: A Second-Grader's Walk on the Wild Side

     In the fall of 2013, Jason and Damia Dillard enrolled their 7-year-old daughter Samaya in the Jefferson Elementary School not far from their home in the Sacramento suburb of South Natomas, California. Samaya had been a good student at St. Hope Public School 7, a Sacramento charter institution. The Dillards made the change because Jefferson Elementary was much closer to their home.

     At 9:30 AM on December 18, 2013, Samaya did something that upset her second grade teacher, Lupe Rodriguez. When Samaya knocked over a glass of water (I presume on purpose), the teacher flew into a rage. She grabbed the back of Samaya's chair and dragged it and the girl out of the classroom and out of the building. The student, wearing a pink and gray sweatshirt and blue jeans, sat outside where it was 46 degrees.

     After sitting outside for almost an hour, Samaya decided to take a walk. She left the campus through a fence gate and walked down a busy road that crossed over Interstate 80.

     As the 7-year-old walked over the interstate, the teacher who had expelled her from the building realized the student was not where she had left her. When school official didn't find the girl inside the school or on campus, they called her parents and the police.

     While no one from the police department responded to the call, the parents rushed to the school in two cars, and from there began driving around in a frantic search of their daughter.

     As the panicked parents drove around aimlessly looking for their missing daughter, Samaya paid a visit to a Walmart store. At a nearby shopping center, about two miles from the school, she entered the On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina and asked for a glass of water. The restaurant employee, after Samaya drank her water and walked off, called the police and reported a young girl wandering around the area without parental supervision. No one from the police department came to the restaurant to investigate.

     About two and a half hours after Samaya was dragged out of the school by her angry teacher, her father came upon her walking along a street not far from their house. According to Mrs. Dillard, the incident traumatized her daughter who felt that she had been abandoned.

     Samaya's parents enrolled her in another school and have threatened to sue the Natomas United School District. School administrators placed the teacher on paid administrative leave. (I don't know this teacher's current status, but would be shocked if they fired her. In California, to qualify for dismissal, a teacher has to be convicted of a felony.)

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