Updated Mar 29, 2013 - 11:18 am
Arizona legislator threatens grandson's teacher
PHOENIX -- An Arizona school is considering hiring armed guards after a state senator barged into a classroom and verbally threatened a teacher over a dispute involving his teenage grandson.
Yuma Police were investigating Republican Sen. Don Shooter for marching into the public high school for troubled teenagers after being denied entry.
Students, teachers and administrators were alarmed when a visibly agitated Shooter slipped past a receptionist, who had told him he couldn't enter the school, said John Morales, executive director of the nonprofit Yuma Private Industry Council, which oversees the EOC Charter High School. Morales said school officials will meet next month to discuss hiring armed guards to prevent future unwanted visitors.
Shooter has called the school and apologized, Morales said.
"With the environment around schools, especially with what happened in Connecticut, it's alarming," said Morales, referring to the mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school in December.
Shooter, a tea party leader who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, could not be reached for comment. He is being investigated on potential charges of assault, trespassing and disruption of an educational institution, according to a police report published by the Arizona Capitol Times.
The incident began shortly after classes started on March 22. Shooter demanded to see his grandson's teacher, but the school receptionist told him he needed an appointment because the educator was busy teaching. When the receptionist turned her attention to answer a phone call, Shooter walked past her and entered the teacher's classroom.
"Our registrar is a tiny little gal and she went after him saying, 'You can't go in there! You can't go in there!' " Morales said. "He confronted the teacher. There were some tense moments there for a while."
Shooter berated the teacher for several minutes and waved his finger in her face before a guidance counselor was able to talk him into leaving the class.
Shooter informed the classroom that "he was a state senator and very influential man in Yuma and in the state," according to the police report. At least one student stood up and asked Shooter to leave.
After meeting with the guidance counselor, Shooter walked out of the school, Morales said.
"There were no obscenities," Morales said. "He was fairly agitated and angry about something."
After Shooter's departure, school officials called the police. The alternative school located in a small office complex has about 100 students and no security guards.
Morales said he had not been aware that a student at the school had ties to the Arizona Legislature before the incident. Morales said Shooter had not previously visited the school.
The school had been trying to arrange a meeting with the boy's parents to discuss his education when Shooter showed up. After the classroom confrontation, school officials tried to arrange a meeting with Shooter, the boy's parents and the principal, but Shooter and the boy's parents declined. Morales said the boy's parents have indicated they will remove him from the school.
Morales said he did not know what specific issue had prompted the incident or why the boy's family was upset prior to Shooter's visit to the school.
The student body is comprised of teenage parents and other at-risk students who need special instruction, Morales said.