Have I done a good or bad thing?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, I really hope I've done the right thing. Last week while meeting with school principal she tells me that they had reviewed tape recordings from school bus and difficult child was in trouble (in-school suspension for 3 days) . difficult child had voluntarily told me that part of the story already. According to him, kids had been rough-housing on the bus and he got in trouble. According to principal, he had gotten way to rough and had hit 2 kids- one being a girl. I asked if she meant that he hit in a violent, provoking way or if it was horse play getting out of hand- not that it was appropriate for that anyway, but wanted to know if he was trying to bully. She said if it had been violent or really trying to fight, he wouldn't be at school at all. ok. difficult child had told me the girl was a friend of his and I am aware that she's a bit more on the tom-boy side who plays with difficult child and his best friend (male). She has been at our house, sometimes with her sister, to play a few times. Still, I talk with difficult child about "she's still a girl- you can't rough-house the same with her". Of course they wrote him up for "hitting other students" and specifically, only say he was punching a girl in the stomach.

    Now the worst news- principal then tells me that a couple of kids from the bus voluntarily told them some things about difficult child while they were being questioned about bus incident. These things were that kids in the neighborhood were afraid of difficult child because he bullied them, went around bragging that I wasn't home a lot and when I'm not home he goes out and does whatever he wants to, has cut up animals, set fires in neighborhood, broken glass on the streets, torn up and vandalized street signs. WOW!

    So, in my shock I say ok, well either this is all rumor or difficult child has been saying things that aren't true (yes, he's not always logical enough to realize that his way of impressing other kids isn't a smart way), or he has actually done these things. The principal kept looking at me like she was waiting to see what I was going to do about it. I asked if they were going to look into it to see if there was any truth in it. She said no. I said I'd had NEVER known difficult child to harm any animal and that some of it couldn't possibly be true- like being left home a lot or being out by himself a lot. Anyway, I left and asked difficult child about it when he got home from school. He is adamnt that he never did or said he did any of these things and cannot believe any kids he knows in this neighborhood would say any of this about him. I should point out- the admin staff in this school can get kids and adults to say almost anything. When I talk too them I feel like I'm being interviewed by one of those policeman that solicit confessions out of innocent people. Also, I and the school staff know that difficult child has confessed to everything he's done wrong so it's add a little more weight to the fact he might be telling the truth, in my opinion. He was also adamant that all the kids were out of control on the bus and he doesn't understand why he was the only one that got into trrouble. (Maybe the others sold him out? I don't know.)

    So, the next day, I email principal and asked if I could see the tape and if the neighborhood kids who said these things could sit with difficult child and I and someone from school and discuss exactly what difficult child has said or done. I thought this would help me clear everything up in my own mind. Principal responded "no" in an email yesterday, she also spelled out each one of these allegations in the email and copied all the other admin staff at school and difficult child's case manager. She sounded angry in the email- like she thought I was just trying to get difficult child out of trouble and trying to get them to do things they could not do.

    Well, I think she did what she did with that email to make sure this got documented at school in difficult child's file, with all allegations spelled out so she can bring it out later and say she told me, but I didn't do anything about it. Also, those "seeds of doubt" are now planted in the minds of each person in authority over difficult child at school. I emailed her back saying that there was nothing I could do about it if I don't know who the kids were that said these things, I have seen absolutely no indication at home that they are true, and the other kids are still playing with difficult child and none of them appear afraid to me. Also, if kids tell her things like this in the future and she can't do anything, maybe she could suggest that they discuss it with their parents and their parents are welcome to call me anytimee to discuss concerns they have about difficult child.

    Thurs. evening difficult child tells me his best friend (also a boy in the neighborhood) won't speak to him because he thinks difficult child stole his earphonoes- expensive ones he'd gotten for Christmas. difficult child was adamant about this too- he did not do it- same tone of voice, words, etc., that he'd used when I had asked him about the other rumors. So I call best friend's Mom to get their side of story. As it turns out, the Mom said she had taken the earphones but hadn't mentioned it to her son. She spoke with him, he called and apologized, all is well. Except he had already told at least one other kid in neighborhood that difficult child stole from him (the same girl from bus). So, I guess that will be another rumor. But, this let me know FOR SURE that difficult child did not steal this and makes me think he's telling the truth about these other rumors. Besides, when he's out playing, he's almost always with this boy.

    Anyway, I printed the email from teacher and my respoonse and faxed them to PO and GAL. I emailed case manager at school and said if there is nothing else I can do, I'll notify GAL in case the issue doesn't fade out. Have I stirred up trouble for difficult child with GAL? Am I hoping for too much to think maybe she'll go to school district and say you should either look into it or drop it and not document it? Any chance GAL will ASSUME there is truth to it?

    My gut feeling is that this is going to turn into something bigger- but I don't know what to expect from it. Will GAL get police to investigate? If difficult child is innocent, this could be a good thing, right? I was afraid NOT to tell PO and GAL and thought the quicker the better- do you think this was a mistake?

    Suggestions? Can anyone see a particular action I should prepare for?

    Thanks!!
    :dissapointed:
     
  2. Coookie

    Coookie Active Member

    I am a firm believer that everyone should meet with their accusers. Having said that it seems to me that the Principal (I use that term lightly) is cracked. :mad: If these things are true, you need all the facts to get the help for your difficult child that you can. If they are not, the ones who are spreading these lies need to be held accountable by the authorities that be.

    It is true that our difficult children do lie, do things that shock us, and make us question all their words sometimes but it is also true that we need to stand up for them when it is appropriate and you need that information to make that determination.

    What I would do is send another email to the Principal... stating that it is imperative that you be able to see the tapes and meet with the children and parents of difficult children accusers to make an accurate determination of the course you will take. Express your deep concern and that your primary goal is, if these accusations are true, to handle it the best you can, with the best help you can get... but if they are not ... too stop it now.

    You got an email from the Principal in which others in the loop were cc'd right? I would also cc them in my email so that there is no question of your intent (and no possiblity of a "lost email".)

    Our difficult children do enough without having everything else tacked on them too. :furious:

    Boy this made me mad.... can you tell?????? :clubbing:

    Sending gentle and supportive hugs.
     
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I have no experience with this kind of thing, but quite frankly, I think you did the absolute best thing you could have. Hit this head on. Principal was in my humble opinion completely out of line to have cc:d all those people what is a *rumor*, and one that she has refused to investigate. I am a cynic, but it sounds like she's stirring the pot.

    I would ask to see difficult child's permanent school file, including all disciplinary records. Send a request, certified, requesting an appointment to do so. If there is *any* mention of these allegations in there, you need to write them a certified letter, with the statement that it is to be added to his permanent file, disputing the allegations that the school *did not investigate*. You do not want this to come back and bite him in HS.
     
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Jaysus. I hate stuff like this. You really don't KNOW what is true/false and you aren't allowed to see. I'm assuming they need some proof to get him into trouble--kids to say which animals he harmed, where he set fires, etc. There are so many blurred edges here. You don't know what is true or not and it could be a mixture of both. Sadly, I've seen my daughter stare at me with tears in her eyes and lie (this was when she used drugs). I also lived with a child (we adopted him) who actually seemed like a great kid to adults, but behind our backs he molested younger child, killed animals and set little fires. My kids showed me the proof AFTER he was gone because he scared them into staying quiet. I don't like the way the school is handling this AT ALL and I hope it works out well. From now on, I"d keep every bit of correspondence you get from the school, document all phone calls and what was said, and literally make a diary of when you are home and when your son is out and with whom etc. Also, know that anything you send in writing to the school THEY will keep. I'd deal with them by phone only unless you want them to keep what you write as proof of a response. I'm so sorry about all this...I'd be fuming.
     
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    The principal's position is that they cannot investigate because it didn't "happen" at school. Of course, I'm sure it's documented, along with the fact that she notified me of it- which makes it my responsibility to do something. However, I don't see what I can do. i guess I wonder if why, if it has nothing to do with them, then why document something they don't know is true in his school file? Also, I am thoroughly convinced that they punish difficult child differently from other students and justify it to themselves by acting like they think he is a threat. This just fuels that, in my humble opinion. If they had heard rumors about a student that they thought was a "great kid", the kids spreading the rumors would be in big trouble.
     
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    That would be an excellent point to make if it is documented - not a school issue, shouldn't be in records. However, the fact that she distributed this information to administrators makes me think it's possible she might have documented in records as part of her "investigation" into the bus incident. Total bolongna, but I think definitely worth making sure it's not in there. If you have to write a letter disputing it, I'd specifically state that he's not left home alone and there has been absolutely no indication, other than this unsubstantiated rumor that is being disseminated by principal, that any of these behaviors have taken place, ever. It's not that you don't know what you can do about it, it's that there's nothing *for* you to do because there is no indication whatsoever that these incidents ever took place.
     
  7. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I went through this with my difficult child all the time at school. Mine is 13 and stands at 5'11", all the kids picked on her and she was an easy target as the bully or instigator as she was so much taller than the other kids and her behavior was sometimes inappropriate due to precessing disorder. I went back and forth with a principal who made our lives hell! She always asumed difficult child was the wrongdoer in any and all situations and it finally wore on us so much that we pulled her out and I now homeschool her (ow!!!) If you have the enrgy and tenacity I would keep fighting to fix this. Sometimes after you make enough noise they realize you're not going to take their ****. I CAN"T BELIEVE she disseminated this info to others whetehr it was rumor or fact. TOTALLY inappropriate and shame on her. Don't they realize these things are what shape people's lives??!!My answer is if she's going to put up a fight so should you. Shame on her for being an ignorant nasty shell of a human being. I SOOOO feel for you. I was so angry after reading your post I realized I was mumbling to myself in writing this response. Go get 'em!!!!!!!!!!:warrior:
    -Dara
     
  8. Jena

    Jena New Member

    hi,

    i dont' have much experience with this as well, but wanted to offer my support to you. I would say though unless I misunderstood these "allegations" were just that and these things they accused him of were done off school property, correct?? if that is true than the school has absolutely no business questioning anyone. at least that's how it works in our city schools. the bus issue without a doubt you did the right thing by asking to see or rather hear the audio tapes. if their going to make accusations than as a parent you are by law i believe allowed to view such tapes. they cannot hold them in lockdown from you.

    also in regards to sharing this with the others i believe that you did the right thing, you were open and honest and that is the right way to be i believe.

    it does **** me off though, he struggles enough than to sit and questions kids regarding it in appropriate iwthout a doubt. were these other children's parents there for the questioning their not allowed to do that. also city schools new york that is. there are alot of laws in place i love law regarding schools and how it is their allowed to function. sounds to me like they crossed the line. sounds to me like the principal is smoking something if you know what i mean. you are a concerned parent with whom is not in anyway ignoring their accusations and requesting and by law you are allowed to view them these tapes. for hte principal to send such a blunt and accusatory email in appropriate.

    so i think i'd get off email i'd write a letter and i'd copy your district on it regarding her performance as a prinicipal as well. it's bullsh*t. email is great to an extent i find letters sent certified mails cc: others is alot scarier for them.

    you should find out school policy regarding how it is their allowed to move forward regarding issues of off school either vandalism, etc.

    ugh ok that was ridiculous. i personally think you did the right thing. you can' tkeep your eye on him 24/7 but to cut up animals that some pretty heavy stuff to be saying about him.

    good luck and don't take any of their ****

    Jen
     
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    SLSH gives some very good advice. Certified letters are much better than e-mail. Think about how e-mails work. They can be modified then forwarded. They can be forwarded with notes. A letter stands alone, and the certification proves that it has been delivered.

    If you ask me, this is where the gloves come off. Request a review of all school records by certified letter. You will want to review the records on your own before you discuss it with them. If they give you grief, tell them that you will sit in the library or staff office and review them on the grounds (do this with a notepad and don't say a word to anyone) although this would be unreasonable on their part.

    Demand that anything that has not happened on school grounds or school sanctioned property be removed from his records. Demand that they document any and all actions that they have taken and the results of those actions. Then send a second certified letter addressing each and every issue that concerns you, whether you agree with it or not.

    I think that so long as the GAL is on difficult child's side and understands your difficult child, you did the right thing to get them involved. You probably did the right thing even if they are not. They need to know that you are responding pro-actively.

    The most important thing is that you keep coming back for advice on this. There is a wealth of experience available to you here. People like that principal are in that position because they aren't educators or advocates for our children. They're paper pushers who they probably can't figure out how to fire. Don't let her get away with making your difficult child a target.
     
  10. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    If it didn't happen at school and the school can't do anything about it, then it shouldn't be in the school file. Period. *Especially* if it can't be substantiated.

    You're not allowed to see the videotapes because of confidentiality laws.
     
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Is there anyway to have someone check what the school does- like a business sometimes has to go through an audit? I swear, I honestly think their policy for punishing difficult child is not really their policy for everyone else. And, I think some things are getting distorted- and it seems they can't "prove" anything to me because they don't have to. So, who holds them accountable? Who can investigate?

    I soooo WISH that GAL would go over there and demand the facts. She is one though, that could very well decide to have difficult child locked up because there is question- without checking into it first. OMG, I hope this doesn't happen, but I felt I had to let them know right away. If they check into it and difficult child is innocent, it solves so many problems. I don't think he did these things- he might have SAID he did some things- but that's not exactly the same. If he did any of them, I definitely do need to know and would not sit here trying to cover it all up- he's on probation with a suspended sentence.
     
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think witz nailed it. Follow her advice to the letter and keep coming back at each step. Lots of people here have had to handle this.

    Not on school grounds then should NOT be in school file.

    GAL should be asked to watch videotape. As an officer of the court she should be able to do this.

    NO MORE PHONE CALLS OR EMAILS. TAKE A VOICE RECORDER WITH YOU TO EVERY MEETING. Even if you keep the recorder in your pocket, it is very useful.

    Laws about recording conversations vary from state to state. I did check several sources online and each says that A PARTY must consent to the recording of the conversation, not that EVERY party must consent.

    This means that in your state if YOU are party to a conversation, then YOU can record it because YOU give consent.

    Hope that made sense.

    Long before I met y'all my difficult child was chased out of school by things like this. i had several friends who also had kids and had a lot of influence, so it was not quite as bad as it could get, but we also pulled difficult child out and homeschooled until we moved.

    I am so sorry they are combative to your trying to help your son.

    Hugs,

    susie
     
  13. Jena

    Jena New Member

    there is a confidentiality law in place yet not when it pertains to allegations made regarding another student's behavior especially if those said allegations are mixed with any type of alleged violence of any kind.

    there is no outside companies at least here in new york that oversee the schools by laws, or the accuracy of supposedy investigations regarding children's behavior. the district, find out who the head of your district is for your schools, in your area.

    i was thinking about it before when i was driving...this is what i think id do

    i'd stop all emails; as i said earlier they can also be tampered with;

    as i was thinking earlier certified letter to district leader of schools this time; copying the prinicipal as well as any other individuals you think should have notification.

    i think instead of opening a can of worms for yourself i'd umm basically threaten them but nicely. i'd state that the accusations made by other random students at the school is no more than heresay, and that these alleged acts were done off school grounds. that you were not please with the questoining that took place regareding your son. that it could have negative effects on him , etc. that you are requesting that this particular matter be closed a.s.a.p. unless the school is prepared to be held liable for any negative effects onto your son by entertaining these alleged accusations made by random children on a school bus. also stating that you are incredibly disheartened at how poorly the school has handled this incident and expect there to be no further reprucussions (can't spell LOL) to follow.

    if they are not prepared to do such, then an immediate viewing of said tape is not only being requested by demanded.

    the only thing i think i would add is the details of which i do not know. if this is going to go to the school district you just want to make sure you bash the school basically but nicely but not leaving any details out. this way when they double check it with-principal which they will it will be all good. i'd also look on line at your schools website there have to be some by laws listed in there somewhere that you can quote.

    such *** schools can be.

    so wrong.

    ok sorry i rambled it just upset me when i thought of how badly they handled things its' so important to handle these types of thigns so carefully

    good luck
    Jen
     
  14. Jena

    Jena New Member

    also for the simple fact of letting them know down the road not to mess with you and your son.

    yes i get totally pyscho when it comes to kids and schools.....LOL.....:)

    jen
     
  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    The clincher here- principal said the tape was already recorded over. You would think they wouldn't record over one that was basis for disciplining a student- especially before the appeal time ran out. So no one can view it. It sounds fishy to me. I don't doubt that difficult child got rowdy and got physical with this girl. I definitely believe they were right to address it and he shouldn't have done it, but I don't think she was hurt or he was really punching her hard- I asked him what she did sfterwards and he said she turned around and hit him back. I laughed and said, well I don't blame her. (This is because I know they are friends- I still did chastisew him for doing this to a girl- and I wonder if she did turn on him, but he says they are still friends.) Of course, when my difficult child hit a student back who seriously was trying to hurt him and left a mark on his neck for a week, my difficult child was written up for "fighting" because he also had thrown a punch instead of just "pushing" the kid away. See what I mean about the "policy" being a little different for him?

    Another wierd thing- maybe- last spring I asked for a copy of all his records and got them promptly- but, NONE of my correspondence to them was in there- no letters of corrections, explanations, nothing from me. I didn't know if it was because they felt it wouldn't be important to copy that part if it was being sent to me or not- but I would love for someone to go check them out and see if they are doing things by the book.

    He's in middle school now (7th grade) but in elementary school shortly after he'd been in psychiatric hospital for depression (5th grade), and yes he had been stealing (sudden onset- came with other symptons of depression and he had NEVER broken the law before- went away when he got stable)- anyway, I informed the principal. He disrupted class one day, she locked him in an administrator's office by himself for about an hour and the school keys were laying on the desk. I got a call later that day saying she was having him arrested. I get to school- policeman on the way- she wanted him arrested because he picked up school keys and put them in his pocket. I waited until cop got there and completely lost it on her saying she knew he had a problem, she was the principal of that school and she sset him up by putting him in there and she shouldn't have done it and I would call the press and have her job if she so much as pushed this because the first quesstion everyone in this town would ask is "how did he get to the keys". She dropped her jaw and the cop told her lady, the kid has a problem, I think this mother has a point, and yiou can call the police on him all you want (it was about the 5th time she'd called on him) but it won't solve the problem. Ended that- but she told me she would make sure everything she "knew" about difficult child would follow him to middle school and all the way through school, even if we moved out of state. When I got all his records, she had everything and then some in there- from elementary school- which I thought was supposed to be destroyed when he went to middle school- there were scribbled notes she wrote if I called and said he was sick- "she called and says he won't be at school today". Things were written to make me look bad- it was obvious.
     
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Send a certified letter requesting to see the COMPLETE school record, including any and all correspondence, notes, letters, emails, from you or others ASAP.

    These people are nuts, and unfortunately they run a LOT of the schools we have been in.

    what does his GAL think/say/do about all of this? Does the GAL care? Or is it just for court?

    If this doesn't straighten out, call the superintendent of schools. Explain what happened, take the records they sent in, and take YOUR records of what the school has done to your family. Make sure they know that this is just unacceptable and you WILL sue for defamation of your son's character by this principal.

    Hugs, honey, this just stinks, esp for difficult child!

    Susie
     
  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    ok, I'm going to start getting all my notes and memories of things like this past stuff documented. I'm going to see what I can do to get an advocate. I spoke to a Special Education attny last year and I can hire him if I need to- it would be hard financially to get him to sue because of all the legal issues difficult child is going thru. The attny did tell me last year that "it sure would be something if I could prove that school district triggered difficult child into doing what he did by not doing things they were supposed to re. his IEP (2 hour crime spree in Mar., 2007- racked up 7 charges). Anyway, that would be too hard to prove, I think because psychiatrist already wrote to judge that it could have been prozac induced.

    But, I can get some help on board with my documentation and records- and get it in front of superintendent- maybe- or maybe go straight for state dept. of ed. I want to get the entire school district so I can bring up what happened in 5th grade. Otherwise, it would be limited to middle school- different principal.

    Re. the GAL- she can be very unpredictable and make rash decisions re difficult child placement before even checking things out- this is how he ended up in detention for 3 weeks instead of staying home on monitor. She only got this info from me yesterday- late afternoon. I faxed it to her and called- left message asking her to call me so I could elaborate. I don't know what she'll do, if anything. I'm a little worried she might have difficult child put in detention again while she looks into it. We were just in court Wed. over MST services and me trying to get the right to take him to counseling recommended by 2 psychiatrists. She was on my side for that and told judge that difficult child was doing well. I WON THE CASE!!!

    Obviously, being that I do not see signs of difficult child being unstable lately- (he was a little rough on the edges the week I tried lowering his lithium dosage so I raised it back. He'd had a sudden rage at home and was having trouble sleeping- but didn't "disappear" from the house or do anything indicative of what was accused. This was the week of the bus incident though- which is another reason I think it was true that he got way too rowdy.) So, because of these things, I hope the GAL just says she can't do anything based on this info (rumors only) if she can't go to the school and make them tell her what really happened and who these "frightened and intimidated" kids are, so she can go talk to them. I can't see her doing all that though- she hasn't done that much in the past 6 mos on this case.
     
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    "The principal's position is that they cannot investigate because it didn't "happen" at school."

    If that is the case, then the principal should have totally stayed out of it and not even viewed the tapes. Catch 22 - can't have it both ways.

    Therefore - ALL references to this from any school staff member or to any school staff member, boils down to merely spreading unsubstantiated rumour.

    difficult child should not be liable for any disciplinary action from the school, if the school cannot get involved. And yet, this sounds ridiculous.

    Which means - the principal's statement that the school cannot get involved is patently untrue, because the line of logic simply does not follow. Of course, we do know that education systems are often illogical.

    What has happened - allegations have been made. The principal HAS got involved, to the extent of passing information to others, of meeting with you, of opening discussions with you, and being openly critical of difficult child. Principal IS involved.

    Evidence - there were tapes, and allegations. There appear to be no records current, in terms of any written information or viewable information (I also suspect the tapes' convenient absence). There should at least be transcripts of allegations made by other students, even if names of students have been removed from those transcripts. Anyone making an allegation should be prepared to follow through and openly witness.

    Evidence - it is highly likely that any tapes involved HAVE now been erased. Either because the tapes were needed to be recycled, or because the principal made more out of the incident than necessary and is now trying to save face.
    Or the tapes may only have been REPORTED to have been taped over.

    Which brings me to - who is responsible for the CCTV on the bus? Why do they do it, what is their aim?
    I would think the main aim would be to document accurately any incidents on the bus for further action where necessary; to be able to go back and view footage and determine what really was going on. If that is the reason, then such tapes would be kept. If no incidents happen, the tapes would get taped over as a matter of course. A lot of stores with CCTV recycle their tapes. I mean, if you tape for a month and there are no incidents, no armed robberies, no thefts in that time - then why keep the tapes? But in case there ARE problems, most systems will have a series of tapes to cover, say a fortnight or a month, and then begin taping over. Any footage needed to verify a problem or back up a case should be kept. Failure to keep the footage is an admission that it was not a concern.

    And now to responsibility - in Australia (so why not elsewhere?) the school is responsible for the students from the moment they leave their home and travel to school, to the time they get home from whatever mode of transport they were using. The same thing applies to employers, re Workers Compensation. I had a fall on the railway station steps on the way to work, and the time I had to take off to get my wounds treated was dealt with as Worker's Comp.
    If the journey is broken (for example, you stop off to do your grocery shopping on the way home) then the cover stops at the point where you deviated from your usual route.
    But with schools, it can extend further.
    When difficult child 3 was bashed outside our home right on sunset (several hours after the bully had got home from school) the principal was still able to do something, because the bully was still wearing his school uniform. The bully was therefore an identifiable student of the school and because his bad behaviour brought the school into disrepute, the principal was obliged (and more than willing) to act. OK, the extent of the action was to increase supervision to ensure the bully couldn't get anywhere near difficult child 3 at school, but we were OK with that. We knew that nothing more could be done, without the boy's parents being prepared to acknowledge that their son is a problem (because the father is the problem, from our observations since).

    I've gone in and taken photos of various activities occurring outside school hours, but due to large numbers of kids from the same school meeting together with inadequate parental supervision. When I am aware of such a situation, I keep my camera with me, but I remove difficult child 3 from the situation, because he's been wrongly accused before, of being a ringleader (as if other kids would follow HIM).
    I also shadowed difficult child 3, to make sure that any statements such as "your son was throwing rocks at my kids, he started it," could be proven totally wrong, at least to my own satisfaction.

    And the other vital information we were given by the police, when difficult child 3's bullies escalated their actions to the point of drawing blood, was to document all events AND report them to the police. We were told to call the police, even if a kid merely swears at him. The cops won't necessarily do anything, but they will document it, we were told, and if there is ever a more serious problem then that documentation will often make it easier to follow a pattern of problem behaviour by others.

    difficult child 3 now knows this and if anything, it encourages him to keep his nose clean. ANY hint that he was at all involved in escalating an incident, will also come out on the record. He knows to do absolutely nothing to provoke, but to come home, or call me on his mobile phone, or go to a safe house (we've set up a few cooperative neighbours to help rescue him in times of trouble).

    I might seem to be digressing here, but this sort of problem is often all linked in. Other kids saying things that may or may not be true - you have the right, the community responsibility, to check the stories out. Just asking your son is not enough - ANY kid would deny wrongdoing, it's natural. Just taking the word of a skilful interrogator with an axe to grind - also invalid.

    Either the situation requires investigation, or it doesn't.
    If it doesn't, then all records, notes, emails etc should NOT be deleted, but should be kept on his file with a covering letter to say that no evidence for these allegations was provided and that therefore no investigation was made. The records must show everything full and complete, because the allegations have been made; at some future time, this may prove relevant (either because he IS a lying little snot, or because he IS being victimised and they need to have a paper trail to chase those responsible).

    And if the situation DOES require investigation, then you should have access to the same information the investigators do. After all, if your kid IS a lying little snot, you should have the right to do something about it before he gets worse. Leaving a problem like this unattended is asking for trouble - if your kid is violent like this, is also lying about it, is beating up on other kids and the neighbourhood kids a rightly terrified of him - then surely, this needs to be stopped fast? And surely it is in the principal's interests to give you all the support and help you need to do this?

    Please note - I don't know your son, I have no reason to believe he is the problem the principal is claiming. All I am trying to show, is that whichever view you take (is he innocent? Is he a danger?) requires proper investigation and follow-through. And if not - then the problem was clearly so trivial it should never have been raised.

    Good luck. Go get 'em.

    Bur final advice - stay unemotional. Document independently. Report widely, as widely as they do (if not more) and make any requests for information as provable as possible (hence Witz's suggestion for registered letter instead of email - although a broadcast email cannot be tapered with easily, generally evidence of attempt to tamper can do a lot of harm; principal could tamper with what was received at the school, but unless the principal can access other people's files, he/she can't be sure to have rewritten every single copy).

    Good luck!

    Marg
     
  19. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Trying to add it up in my mind- if these things are true, why didn't the kids tell their parents? Why wouldn't the parents have called police or found me? If parents called school, wouldn't school have said they can't investigate? Being this bad, would parents just forget it then? If parents notified police, wouldn't I have heard by now (it's been over a week).

    So, if kids didn't think it warranted telling their parents and school just happened to find out while questioning kids about bus incident, how do you get from "was difficult child rowdy or punching kids on the bus" to difficult child did this , this, and this in the neighborhood?

    There are two "groups" of kids in the neighborhood- the ones that difficult child plays with and the ones he just sees at bus stop/riding on bus. If it is the ones just from the bus- then it is a school issue. If it is a friendship gone bad, would the kids hhold all this in if it's true and tell someone at school but not a parent?

    I know all parents don't think like me, but I can't get this to add up in a way that doesn't seem fishy.
     
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's fishy, I agree.

    A story I've told here before - a good friend went to complain to the class teacher about her son being punished way out of proportion. I was there, because it involved me - I'd dropped a bottle of prescription painkillers and he had picked up the bottle, seen my name on it and thought, "I'll drop it in to her after school," when really he SHOULD have handed it in. He did the wrong thing but it was impulsive, not deceit. The teacher made a HUGE fuss, told him off in front of the class, called him a liar, a thief and a drug pusher, then got the office to ring his mother. I also got phoned to "come pick up your pills - and be more careful next time."

    By the time school was over, my friend and I had worked out what had happened and were furious at the automatic assumption of serious guilt as well as the public shaming. The boy came home from school dejected and feeling hurt, the mother & I went to the school to have it out.

    The teacher's response - "I'm glad you've come to talk to me about this, I've been meaning to call you in for a meeting for some time. Your son has been disruptive, he isn't a team player at all and in fact tends to be secretive and at times will be cold to his classmates. I've caught him lying before now, he's not popular with the other kids and frankly, is a real concern. His schoolwork has been suffering too."
    My friend's reaction - it took the wind out of her sails. She had gone to defend her son, and found the picture was far more complex, far darker than she had believed. "Right! I'm sorry to have bothered you with this, Ms V, I'll deal with HIM when I get home. Sorry for the misunderstanding."
    My friend went home and tore strips off her son for being exactly what his teacher had said he was - a liar, a sneak, lazy with work - and grounded him.
    The poor lad - he had felt victimised to begin with, saw his mother set off on a crusade to clear his name and what he got was even worse, it would have been better if she had chosen to do nothing.
    Meanwhile I couldn't get a word in edgewise. I finally managed to say, "There is no way he stole those pills from me, I had my bag with me at all times, but I know I left it open as I walked into the classroom when it began to rain, I'm certain the pills simply fell from my bag."
    It took two days before my friend rang me up to say, "We were had."
    Concerned that her son was doing badly, my friend went through her paperwork and especially his school half-yearly report, written by that same teacher only a few weeks earlier. In the report the teacher spoke glowingly of how well the boy worked with others, how he looked out for other kids in the class, how kind he was, how honest, how considerate - etc.
    So either the teacher was lying in the report, or she lied to the mother (& me) when we confronted her.
    What I think happened - the teacher found these pills because some other kid said, "K showed me what he picked up in the playground, then put them in his pocket." Her instant reaction was, "this kid is selling drugs, this is serious, he must be made an example of," without checking the story first. By the time she stopped to think about it, by the time she heard his story, she was beginning to realise she had over-reacted and was in way over her head.
    Then we showed up. She could either back down (but she had already said and done too much, to back down would be to lose too much face) or she could bluff her way out of the problem by deflecting the mother's anger back at the son. And in this, she succeeded only too well. The boy got a lesson that said, "No matter how unfair the teacher is, do not complain to your parents because it will backfire in nasty and unexpected ways."

    I had a similar experience in my middle school days - a teacher bullied me in front of the class in the middle of an exam. I complained to my mother, who went to the school to confront the teacher. Next thing I knew, my mother was giving me a hard time about how lazy I was and how badly I was doing in class, as well as how I shouldn't criticise my teachers, teaching is a thankless profession and kids have no idea how difficult it is and we should be grateful for the effort our teachers put in and learn to not criticise our elders...
    My mother, it turned out, had been neatly deflected.
    Years later, she told me the whole story and agreed that I had been unfairly treated.

    From what you say, I believe this principal is trying to deflect you and turn up the heat on your difficult child, as a means to extricate herself from a bad situation of her own making.

    He/She is a principal. They don't rise to that rank without learning a few tricks on making themselves look good. Sometimes they look good because they ARE - there are some brilliant educators/administrators out there who do a great job. But sometimes they do well professionally because they know how to sidestep the dirt and fling it in another direction.

    You are doing something that she probably isn't happy with - you are investigating, and finding the holes in hr story. Remember, this blew up fast, her reaction would have been hasty. Now, with the luxury of time to think it through more clearly, both you and the principal are aware that this has got out of hand. It's going to take some fancy footwork to deal with this and move on.

    When I posted previously, I wrote too much and had to delete another example of this sort of behaviour, of how a hasty and ill-conceived response can lead to bigger problems, which the person tries to cover up more and it can snowball.

    The lesson this teaches, is that deception is warranted if you need to get out of trouble. If the trouble is big or compounding, then a bigger deception is needed, to sustain the first. This is not a good lesson.
    The better lesson we can teach our kids, is that sometimes people make mistakes. If you own up to your mistakes quickly enough, you can keep the resultant problems small and they can be dealt with without too much trouble. But small 'white' lies lead to bigger, blacker ones and greater injustice.

    And if your child can see that complaining to you about injustice results in action taken and injustice reduced, you are teaching him a positive lesson in how to appropriately respond to injustice - either personal injustice or larger social injustice. It also teaches him that he is worth this effort, at a time when he is being made to feel quite worthless indeed.

    Good luck with this one, she sounds a prize problem to me. She's going to be as wily as one of those shape-shifting monsters you meet in many myths.

    Marg
     
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