Mother of student accused of assaulting Dilworth Middle School teacher speaks out

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 11:52 PM PST
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - On December 15, school police were called to Dilworth Middle School after what the principal described in an email as “an altercation… that resulted in an injury for a staff member.”

During an interview with a DMS educator, she revealed the incident involved a teacher being tossed into a locker by a student.

Jennifer Nolan, the mother of that student, reached out to KOLO 8 News Now, saying although her son does have behavioral issues, he did not put his hands on that teacher.

“Hitting anyone or staff or even a female, he just doesn’t do,” Nolan said. “This is the third incident now and the prior ones, they suspended him, and then he tells me he got no involvement in it. So, my son gets in trouble, you know, and I’m calling him more or less a liar and he tells me ‘I’m telling the truth, I’m telling the truth mom’, and wind up being he does tell the truth.”

She goes on to explain that in those previous instances, the principal has confirmed her son had no involvement after he had already been suspended.

Feeling bad for not believing the seventh grader when she says he has been right and wrongfully suspended , Nolan is backing his version of the events.

“She was in the door and she was checking our uniforms out and I was like, ‘I’m not waiting in this long line’,” said Nolan’s son during a hearing with the school’s principal, assistant principal, and the behavioral superintendent. “She grabbed on to another student and she tried to grab on to me and I was like ‘No’, and I did a juke on her and she stepped on my foot, lost her balance, and smacked into the locker.”

During the hearing, the assistant principal admits not being able to see the minor touch the staff member on the surveillance video.

“You see him in front of her and the next thing you know you see him on the side and behind her,” said Melissa Cook Sanford, assistant principal at DMS.

However, she goes on to explain school police have better options when it comes to examining evidence, including video.

“The reports from the other adults and students do say he grabbed her arm. I can’t say that one way or the other,” said Cook Sanford.

According to Nolan, her son has been suspended and is supposed to be going to another institution. At the time of the interview, she had not heard back from the school.

“My son has been stressed out about it. One of his friends can’t even hang out with him anymore until they find out if he did it or not, and that’s messed up,” she said. “They put it as if he’s guilty, as if he did it and with none of them seeing the video, I don’t see how they can sit there and keep blaming or making these accusations on a child.”

When asked why the school would single her son out, Nolan said she doesn’t know, but that the accusations are false. The mother of four even says some students have approached her to confirm her son’s story. She wants other parents whose children have been falsely accused to come forward.

Teachers at DMS have said issues of violence against staff by students are not new and that the cause lies in staffing shortages and the system.

During the hearing, the student agreed that if he had followed the rules this wouldn’t have happened. Nolan says he’s being charged with battery against a protected person. The family is now seeking legal representation.

KOLO 8 News Now reached out to the Washoe County School District for comment and to ask if school leaders stand behind the punishment. We were told they could not comment on disciplinary action because of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. K8NN also tried to get the police report, video surveillance, and statements through a public record request but it was denied because the records contain information from the juvenile justice system, which is confidential by statute.