Sixth-grader citied for trespassing for walking to bus stop

WEST HARWICH, Mass. (AP) - Police in Massachusetts served a sixth-grader with no-trespass orders after neighbors grew wary of the girl cutting through their properties to get to and from her school bus stop.

The mother of 11-year-old Autumn Blanchard told the Cape Cod Times her daughter received three pink no-trespass notices from the Harwich Police Department on March 2. Krystal Blanchard said she was unaware neighbors had an issue until the police arrived at her door. She questioned why she wasn't informed by the neighbors or school officials, who also knew about the problem.

"I am beyond distressed by this situation," she said. "I can't imagine why it had to go to this level. Someone should have spoken to me."

Blanchard said she wonders if the fact her family is new to the area and she and her daughter have brightly colored hair may be causing neighbors to discriminate against them. The mother has pink hair and piercings while her daughter's hair has multiple colors.

"That's the only thing I can think of, which I think is ridiculous," said Blanchard, who contends Autumn is a "nice, polite kid."

Harwich Police Chief David Guillemette blamed a "breakdown in communication" for the situation. He said police should have met first with the mother to discuss her daughter's trespassing.

"I would have preferred it would have been handled with more tact," he said.

Autumn said the cut-through shortened her walk to and from the bus stop, adding how she "just wanted to get home and be warm inside my house."

But one neighbor said she was previously sued because a girl fell in her yard and became concerned when she saw Autumn climbing over debris from a fallen tree.

A police report noted how neighbors asked Autumn to "walk around on the street and she ignores their wishes." The report also referred to a school resource officer and principal talking with Autumn, conversations her mother said she wasn't told about.

According to the notices, Autumn could be arrested and fined up to $100, imprisoned up to 30 days or both, if she steps onto the properties listed in the no-trespass orders.