A mother trying to catch her daughter's bullies in the act has been charged with a felony and could face five years in prison if convicted.
After her fourth-grade daughter complained of being bullied at her Norfolk, Virginia, elementary school, Sarah Sims says she contacted administrators but received no help.
It wasn't the first time her daughter had been targeted by bullies at Ocean View Elementary.
"In grade three she had been kicked in her stomach and hit with a jump rope on the playground and I wasn't notified by the school," Sims told CNN.
Fed up with the school's lack of response, Sims took matters into her own hands and decided to listen in on her daughter's classroom. She sent her daughter to school with a recording device intending to capture audio of her daughter's class and potential bullies.
"I'm a full-time student, so I don't always get the opportunity to be on the premises, and I thought that this would be a good way for me to learn the environment," she told CNN. Sims, 47, attends classes at Norfolk State University.
School officials found the recorder and called police, who charged Sims with intercepting wire, electronic or oral communications and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
"I was appalled when I heard these charges," Sims' attorney, Kristen Paulding, said. "I was shocked to see that the school would decide to go to the police department and ultimately charge this mother as opposed to sitting her down and having just a simple conversation about what were her concerns and how could the school alleviate those concerns."
Paulding previously told WAVY she doesn't believe the charges will hold up in court.
"We are at the very early stages of this, but even at the early stages I think the community needs to know this is happening, because any parent out there that is sending their child to school now could be at risk for something that happened to Sarah," she said.
Sims told CNN she still hasn't heard from the school and has been unable to listen to the confiscated recording.
"We are unable to comment on any pending legal matters," Norfolk Public Schools spokeswoman Khalilah LeGrand told CNN. Norfolk police and the Norfolk commonwealth's attorney's office also declined to comment.
"I tried to be fair, but it's not fair," Sims told WAVY. "There is nothing fair about this."