A visibly upset Sen. Don Shooter entered a classroom against a school official’s will and verbally confronted a teacher during class, frightening the students and the teacher, Yuma police reported.
The teacher is pursuing an assault charge against the senator, according to the police report.
Shooter initially declined to comment. This morning, he issued a statement saying: “Don Shooter, as a concerned grandfather, went to his grandson’s school to discuss several incidents of alleged bullying by a teacher. Mr. Shooter has since spoken to the principal and both parties are working to help his grandson.”
The police report said Shooter, R-Yuma, later tried to defuse the tension by calling a charter school association officer. And according to a statement by a school official, Shooter indicated to the school’s counselor that “he was a very influential person in Yuma and the state of Arizona.”
The Arizona Capitol Times reported Thursday that the Yuma Police Department was sent to the EOC Charter School in Yuma and is investigating Shooter’s role in the incident. The police report was released to the Capitol Times Thursday following a public records request.
Shooter burst into the classroom the morning of March 22 in a “visibly angry manner” and demanded to speak with a teacher, who told police Shooter “was an arm’s length from me pointing and shaking his finger at me,” the report said.
The outburst scared the teacher, Danielle Munoz, and students in her classroom, the report said.
“She was afraid for her safety and the safety of her students,” according to an officer’s account of the incident in the police report.
Munoz is seeking an injunction against harassment and wants to press charges against Shooter, who is under investigation for assault, third-degree criminal trespassing, and the disruption of an educational institution.
No charges have been filed against the Yuma Republican and no arrest had been made.
According to the 15-page report, Shooter was told by the registrar at the school’s entrance that Munoz was teaching a class and was not available to meet with him. But when the registrar was distracted by a phone call, the senator walked past her and into Munoz’s classroom, the report said.
John Morales, executive director of the nonprofit Yuma Private Industry Council that sponsors the school, said it was “unnerving” that Shooter would slip past security and enter the school and classroom without permission from the front desk.
During the confrontation, two other school officers came to help defuse the confrontation. One of them, school register Theresa Dover, “put her body between Mr. Shooter and me,” Munoz said, adding she backed away toward her desk, picked up her cell phone and began recording, the report said.
Munoz told police that Shooter looked upset and “seemed confrontational and aggressive,” and the senator refused to leave despite pleas from school officials. Shooter demanded to speak with the teacher about concerns he had with the instruction she was giving Shooter’s grandson, a student at the school, the report said.
A student told the police that at one point, Shooter “got angry and raised his voice more and more,” the report said.
Shooter left after he noticed Munoz was recording video and was asked again to leave, the report said.
Shooter later asked Eileen Sigmund, president of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, to contact the school in his behalf. Patricia Romant, operations director of the Yuma Private Industry Council, said Sigmund offered her assistance to help resolve the situation.
“[Sigmund] indicated that Senator Shooter was chair of the Appropriations Committee and wanted her assistance in resolving the situation quietly and between the school and Mr. Shooter,” Romant told police.
Sgt. Leanne Worthen, a public affairs officer with the Yuma Police Department, said police “have been given no information that he had gun” while at the school. Shooter said he was not carrying a gun.
EOC Charter High School is a continuation school for students ages 16 to 21 with career-focused training and abbreviated coursework to help students get their GED or high school diploma.