Oviedo middle school student gets detention for hug

Student's family fears principal taking policy too far

OVIEDO, Fla. - A before-school hug between friends ended in detention for one local student, and now her parents are questioning the school's policy.

"I just like hugged them. It was literally for a second," said Ella, an eighth-grade student at Jackson Heights Middle School in Oviedo.

In the school's code of conduct, the Seminole County School District bans "inappropriate touching," but leaves interpretation up to principals. Jackson Heights went even further this year, banning hugs entirely.

"I do not feel that this 'no hugging, holding hands, arm-linking' would be considered inappropriate touching," said Kathy Fishbough, Ella's mother.

The district said detentions are given after repeated offenses.

Fishbough said it was the second incident between Ella and the same boy. She was given a warning last month when the boy put his hand on her head.

"I do think about inappropriate touching and boys and girls of this age having feelings for one another, but that's not what we're dealing with here. And if administration can't tell the difference between a friendly, 'How are you doing' hug and an inappropriate hug, then I think we have another big problem," said Fishbough.

This family of huggers fears one principal may be taking the district's broad policy too far.

"I did ask the principal, if something happened in our family, and she needed to console her cousin or her cousin wanted to console her, would she get in trouble? She said, 'Yes, ma'am. She would get a PDA," said Fishbough.

Ella said she's now afraid to touch anybody at her school.

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