Charges sought against Arizona Sen. Don Shooter

PHOENIX - Yuma police on Thursday asked city prosecutors to file four misdemeanor charges against state Sen. Don Shooter for an incident where he barged into his teenage grandson's classroom and confronted the teacher.

The charges being sought include assault, interference or disruption of an educational institution, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, police spokeswoman Sgt. Leanne Worthen said. The assault charge doesn't involve actual contact but is being requested because the teacher was fearful.

The city prosecutor will review the police reports and decide whether charges should actually be filed, Worthen said. Prosecutors didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Police have been investigating since they were called to the charter high school on March 22 and told that Shooter had confronted a teacher there. The Yuma Republican is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Police reports say the school receptionist told a visibly agitated Shooter that he could not see the teacher, but the lawmaker reportedly ignored her, continued to the classroom and confronted the female teacher.

Shooter waved his finger in the teacher's face before a guidance counselor was able to talk him into leaving the class, according to the report. At one point, the teacher began using her cellphone to record the confrontation, and students intervened and asked Shooter to leave.

Shooter told the counselor the teacher "was not appropriate and his grandson deserved better ... that she should not be teaching," according to the police report. He also said he was a "state senator and very influential man in Yuma and in the state."

Shooter later asked a lobbyist with the Arizona Charter Schools Association to speak to school officials on his behalf because he was "too angry," the report said.

Shooter declined to comment Thursday and referred questions to his lawyer, Edward Novak. Novak said he had no comment because he hadn't seen the final report seeking the charges and hadn't talked to police.

After meeting with the guidance counselor, Shooter walked out of the school without assistance, according to John Morales, executive director of the nonprofit Yuma Private Industry Council, which oversees the EOC Charter High School.

In a lengthy statement to police that was provided to the media last week, Shooter said the teacher had repeatedly called Shooter's grandson and another boy "retarded' and "special ed" and had refused to allow the grandson to go to the bathroom when he was sick. The statement said Shooter went to the school, entered his grandson's class while it was in session and "requested to speak" with the teacher, telling her "if half the student's allegations are true, this is very disturbing and we need to discuss this."

Morales, in an interview Thursday, said he doesn't believe the teacher did what Shooter alleged.

"We've kind of investigated that, and we're not sure that that really happened," Morales said. "We've had our principal interview other students in that classroom, and so far we're not getting any indication that that occurred.

He added there might have been "some communication between Sen. Shooter and his grandson that was misinterpreted."

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