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Updated Apr 18, 2013 - 6:13 pm

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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