School issues, what would you do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sosotired, May 28, 2011.

  1. sosotired

    sosotired New Member

    difficult child is in 7th grade and diagnosed Aspergers. He can be very annoying at times.

    We've had multiple problems with the bus. He's teased incessantly and often comes home crying. I've called the school multiple times asking them to intercede. I rarely get any follow-up.

    Earlier this week, I noticed my son didn't get off the bus and the bus remained at it's last stop. I walked over to see what was going on. Turns out he was irritating kid A, poking him. Words were exchanged. Kid A gets off the bus. Kid B, that had been sitting next to Kid A, walks over to my son (seated) and starts punching him in the face/head. The bus driver is screaming at Kid B to stop and he doesn't. Finally he stops, she says she's calling the police and and Kid B says 'Good'. Police, ambulance, school officials show up. Kid B is placed in the back of the police car. They check out my son and I sign that he doesn't need to go to the emergency room. Kid B, police, parents and school officials stand outside and talk for 20. Police leave. I take my son home. As school officials are leaving, I approach the vice principal. He tells me my son iniatiated it and that two other witnesses state my son was throwing punches too. Mind you, he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag and during this incident, never left his seat. The other boy was a year older and standing over him during this whole incident. My son's face is swollen and bruised and he has scratches on his neck.

    Both boys were suspended for 4 days.

    I really don't know where to take this anymore. I've complained to the school. I've called the district dean of discipline when another boy jumped my son earlier this year. Nothing is done.

    Luckily there are only 6 days in the school year left. I've already put my house up for sale as we've had multiple other issues with the neighbor kids (throwing rocks at the windows, egging our house).

    We're leaving anyways, do I drop it? I'm concerned this suspension will now be in his record so his new school will already earmark him as a troublemaker.
     
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I'd think if he was throwing punches as well, there would evidence to that on his hands. No marks on his knuckles? Defensive marks in the inside? Anything like that take photos that show the date.
     
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is a sad issue that I have wondered about myself. My son is on the autism spectrum so he is very naive and trusting and also easily frustrated. He is so fortunate that at his school the kids are used to those with special needs and they have always been good to those who needed extra help, but this is not the rule of thumb. Kids can be mean. The school feels it has to be "fair" to both kids, even though we both know that our kids don't have a chance when baited. They will eventually take the bait and get punished the same way a child without disabilities is, even though they were tremendously provoked.

    If we had not found our school, I think I may have homeschooled Sonic. In your shoes, I probably would have gone to the police, who don't understand disabilities, and get told that "everyone has to get treated the same for violence." In the end, I would have considered homeschooling with considerable outside activities so that the child sees other kids. I know how unfair it is. When kids act out the other kids seem to ENJOY teasing them until they do it...it's so sad. And the principal/teachers/bus drivers don't SEE everything, although sometimes I think they see more than they say.

    You may want to go full force and talk to the police, the super, the school board...see if anything wants to help protect a boy with Asperger's Syndrome. Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck. Stories like this break my heart. Before you move, talk to the school you intend on sending your child to. You may want to go for a smaller school. And make sure you get an IEP!
     
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I have had similar circumstances with difficult child when he was in middle school. As much of a fighter as I am, I don't think this is a battle that is worth fighting since you are relocating. I was able to drop the school bus ride from our schedule and provide transportation. On school grounds there was more protection for him. Before changing to the drive method I had the bus driver have difficult child sit right behind her for awhile. That helped a bit but he was still bullied and I felt the trauma wasn't worth it.
    I am sincerely sorry. It's frightening and maddening. Hugs. DDD
     
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Take the photos. I would follow through as far as possible, because I agree, a bigger kid standing over your son is the kid who is in a position to walk away. The kid being stood over is far less able to get up and walk away, he has to get past the attacker.

    Take photos of his hands with his face in the shot as well, and make sure it shows that his hands are unmarked as far as possible. If your son was also throwing punches, AFTER the other kid was, he was defending himself.

    Our Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are so often the one blamed, that the other kids, especially the bullies, learn that they can attack and get away with it by blaming "the weird kid" for starting it.

    This problem is going to follow you, for two very good reasons:

    First, human nature being what it is, the person who is different will always be a target for those who fear the unusual and different. These people resent feeling fearful and so attack rather than deal with it. A good defence against this is to educate the others. I used to say, "difficult child 3 is no threat, and beating him up is no glory either." I actually went to the school and addressed the class, telling them about autism (with professional support - Sixth Sense program).

    Second, your son is in a circling pattern with conflict behaviour. A kid who has been frequently attacked, especially without being protected or vindicated, is a kid who has been programmed to be a victim. Bullies can sniff these kids out and make a beeline for them.

    If you now go in and stand up for your son, and take the photos to prove that he was not hitting the other kid, then you are teaching your son that truth is important and also that he is worth fighting for. You are also setting the example of the right way to handle conflict. Use it as a teaching example.

    Over the years with my kids, I have gone in to bat for them over various problems. As far as possible I fight battles by negotiation, by lobbying, and by logic and reason. I take action by putting things in writing and making sure I follow through. Now I see my older kids learning to do the same for themselves. If they need advice on what to say or do, I am there. But more and more, they do it for themselves, and do it well. I taught them that they are worth fighting for, that justice is worth fighting for. Fighting the right way, too, and not merely throwing insults.

    I would put your concerns in writing, and make it clear that simultaneous copies are winging their way to others up the chain of command. Keep your letter simple, and make clear what you want - your son's name cleared because in this, he was the victim. It sounds to me like this has been a long-term problem not dealt properly with by the school. I would also keep fighting to clear his name, after you move. Next year. Don't let up. I would also talk to the new school principal about it and also your concerns that he has come form an environment where he has been bullied, and so his social responses are likely to be unhealthy (victim mode) as well as possibly reactive, or maybe seen as reactive when he is not.

    An example I give, was from a very similar situation with difficult child 3. We had just changed schools, from a bullying environment to one where bullying was a huge no-no. The class was getting out, difficult child 3 who did not know where to go (being the new kid) was moving slowly and uncertainly. A kid behind him said, "Get out of the way, dummy."
    difficult child 3, instead of getting out of the way, stood there and said quietly, "Well go on then. Hit me."
    The other boy, to his credit, walked away and got the principal, because he thought difficult child 3 was trying to start a fight. The principal, to HIS credit, recognised the source of the problem - difficult child 3 had been bullied so badly and for so many years, that he had been taught the pattern to expect - first comes the name-calling, then the punches follow as surely as night follows day. And he was tired of it, just wanted it to be done and over with. "Hit me, it's what is coming next, I just want to get it over with so I can continue on outside and get my lunch."

    It took several years of correspondence school for difficult child 3 to learn that he can feel safe, that he does not deserve to be hit simply because he is difficult child 3; and that life does not have to be lived in fear.

    Marg
     
  6. seriously

    seriously New Member

    Does your son have an IEP?

    If not, then I would say that this cries out for him to be considered eligible for one due to the need for behavioral interventions. Getting to school without being traumatized or traumatizing others is part of the learning process.

    Assuming you are in the US, selling your house may not happen as fast or as easily as you hope. Especially if a prospective buyer finds out about the neighborhood harassment issues. Which, by the way, you might be legally required to disclose to any potential buyer. Read the fine print in your contract with your real estate broker if you are using one and see if this is addressed. Or ask the RE person for any written information he/she has on full disclosure requirements in your area. You can always choose not to disclose this info but then you run the risk of being sued by new owners if they also get harassed and there was a legal requirement that you disclose the information.

    So it is a difficult call to make.

    I think you should definitely document the injuries. I think you should make sure there was a police report filed and get a copy of it to see what it says about what happened. If no report was filed or the report substantially differs from what you believe happened then I would make a report right away while your son's injuries are still apparent or meet with someone from the police department to ask how to have additional information included/added.

    If you didn't take your son to the doctor I would do that now. You want documentation of the assault by third parties. And if your doctor doesn't know about this situation he/she needs to know in my opinion. It's possible the doctor may be a helpful advocate by writing letters to substantiate your requests for behavioral interventions to be put in place.

    I would go down and make the school district let you examine your son's permanent file so you know what's in it. I'm not sure if you can get a copy of it but you should be able to challenge information in it (like a write up of this incident that fails to make note of your son's disabilities as a contributing factor) by writing up your own version and insisting it be added to the permanent file.

    And at the minimum I would write a letter to the district stating your position that this incident is a manifestation of your son's disabilities and asking for an IEP meeting to re-consider placement or, if there is no IEP, asking that your son be evaluated for special education services since these behaviors are clearly interfering with his and other children's ability to benefit from a free and appropriate public education (FAPE in Special Education speak). I do not believe that these problems exist in isolation on the bus ride to school. I pretty much guarantee that there is more bullying happening on school grounds.

    Given your difficult child's age and the school district's handling of this incident - if you don't take action to make the school district address this you are in for really big trouble in high school. Everyone is bigger and stronger but are the kids are even more volatile. You do not want your son charged with a serious assault or to be the victim of a serious assault because of verbal or physical bullying like this incident. It is a recipe for disaster in my experience.

    When/if you change districts your son's suspension will be staring the new district in the face as a statistic on his attendance record. They may make decisions about your son or form opinions based on that isolated fact without bothering to ask for more details or because the old school district fails to provide those details. Whatever's in that permanent file is what they will see so you really need to know what's in it.

    I believe the new school district will be required to act on your request for Special Education assessment but you might need to send them a copy of the request and state that you still want this done by the new district. An IEP meeting must be convened within 30 days of his transfer to a new district if he already has an IEP in place.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    This is so maddening to me!! I am furious for you! I would not drop it - I would fight it. I agree with what the others wrote. I just wanted to add my support - I have not experienced this type of situation yet but I bet the time will come when I will. If your son did not do anything to warrant the suspension, I would fight that too. Hang in there. Keep us posted.
     
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm so sorry this is happening to your son and your family. I've had similar situations, but was lucky enough to be able to diffuse them before they escalated t what you describe.

    I was once called in to the Principal to discuss son's meltdown on the bus. He had had enough of the general getting picked on, and melted down, tore up a whole notebook and scattered it all over the bus. Of course, this was unnaceptable behavior, BUT I had filed several complaints about him getting bullied, and what had they done? NOTHING. Son knows what he did was wrong, but no one was helping, and I was NOT going to support any school discipline in this matter at home. As a matter of fact, if the bullying continued, I WOULD support my son defending himself by any means necessary - of course I did not want it to get to that, so what can we as adults do to fix this? We did figure out that the bullying only occurred when there was no aide on the bus (every bus had an aide for the bus driver, but when they were absent or another more important duty came up, they were removed) So the solution here was to make sure son's bus ALWAYS had an aide.

    Yes, I was lucky, and there were controls in place already that just needed to be more consistent. The point and my advice is before you start the new school, find out the DETAILS of the bullying policies, discuss them and your son's shortfalls in this area with the principal, vice prin, etc. Get your IEP meeting as soon as possible, and discuss this problem there as well and see what supports can be put in place. With any luck the new school will be a "low bullying" school.

    And yes, take the current fight as far as your energy and time allow. It does set a good example for your son and will give him that sense of "I'm worth it" BUT, don't kill yourself doing it, if energy really needs to be spent elsewhere. Personally, I've always been lousy at dealing with such conflicts for myself, and find it a bit easier when I'm advocating for my child, but still do get stuck on how to proceed. My kids know I have difficulties as well, but that I do the very best I can for them even if it's not everything that can be done.
     
  9. sosotired

    sosotired New Member

    A few points of clarification:

    I already have a buyer for the house and there's really nothing to disclose, these were other kids my son's age that he's had past issues with, not a "neighborhood" thing and the buyers have grown children. We have a closing date in 5 weeks so unless they can't get approved for the loan, which is unlikely, we're out of here. Regardless, we will be leaving as soon as I can get the house sold and I am willing, due to these issues, to do whatever it takes to find a buyer.

    Son does have an IEP and it's a joke. He's supposed to make XX% progress in areas throughout the year, most of which are not measureable. Every quarter I get the same thing "He's making progress" ... sometimes simply just those words and nothing to support it. When he's had issues with other kids, they've handled it poorly. Just last week, another student opened the end of his permament marker and emptied the contents onto my sons shorts. The week before that another boy put hand sanitizer in his food.

    I did take pictures however it isn't terribly noticeable. The swelling has gone down, he has some bruising and a scratch in his hairline and on his neck but you can't see it terribly well in the pictures.

    The school is obviously taking the stand that my son was as culpable as the other child because he was being "irritating". This is the piece, if anything, I'd like to address. If a car cuts me off, even repeatedly in traffic, I cannot follow them, pull them out of the car and punch them repeatedly in the head. I understand he needs to address his behavior, and this is why he's been in social skills classes and been seeing a therapist for multiple years. How does it make it OK to punish each child equally.

    Again, 1.5 weeks of school left, he's suspended for 1 week of that. I really don't even know where I'll find the time to fight this with the school considering all the packing we need to do. My biggest fear is the stance the new school will take seeing his official files from this mess of a middle school.
     
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Nobody deserves to be physically attacked, no matter how annoying they are being. If the school believes that "being annoying" justifies violence, then it is no wonder they are such a waste of space.

    Marg
     
  11. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    This is aweful and makes me mad and sad. First of all you called and asked for help with the bus situation and there was no follow-through. Second,that there is no compassion in any of these adults or kids.

    When you get to the new school I would make an appointment right away-usually principals have to work through part of the summer. His file will not arrive until you have registered him and they know where to send for it. I would be very frank about the last school experience. I would be honest that your son , because of his diagnosis, struggles with behavior and that he probably will at some level for the rest of his school career. Let them know that you want to work with them. You wish to have a BIP (behavior intervention plan) in place that is strong and requires that the school provide some supports such as, an aide on the bus.

    In my experience as a student and a teacher, this is a hot house for trouble. The driver is driving and it's loud on that bus. They are clueless about what goes on. Kids are terrible to each other esp. in Jr. High. I remember being teased horridly until I finially decided to walk or ride my bike the entire 3 miles to school. There were times when my sister and I couldn't even sit down as others put there legs out over the seat. Driver kept driving. I once sat on someone's legs in frustration. Guess who was in trouble?

    Let the principal know that some of you son's social issues are because he is different and a target. He has learned to get attention by being irritating and you want to work on this. School is the best place as this is where the kids are. Let the school know that you feel it would be hard for any kid to endure what your boy does, let alone having a disability and trying to deal with it.

    Files are rarely read-unless there is a big problem. I hate to say it. Special Education. files are more often read as they are suppose to be a working document. What will they do if they see it any way? I know many people feel like it causes prejudgement and schools to be looking for mess ups. In truth, schools are so overwhelmed, this is rarely the case unless your kid is the biggest problem they have. Being up front and wanting to start on the right foot with a problem solving attitude will make things easier. Schools do better when they know a parent is hovering and they are supportive of their kid. The more you can educate this new school about your son and Aspbergers, the better. Do not assume anyone knows much of anything about your son's disability-most teachers are sadly under-trained here and to be honest-kids on the spectrum are as different as can be. They need education about your kid.

    I wish you luck and hope you will find the fresh start you are hoping for. I encourage you to be persistant at this new school. Hugs to you!
     
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    I ignore all that stupid progress stuff. NO ONE (even a good friend that advises me on this stuff) can explain the 8 times out of 10 stuff to me in a logical manner. I focus on the acomodations - what they can do to help my son succeed in school. Extra time to hand in work, picking his own seat in classrooms, extra bathroom/hallway passes, a "go to" classroom/teacher etc.

    Wishing you the best of luck!
     
  13. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    I believe (but please check with the Special Education. forum) that you can write a response to the suspension and have it put in his Cumulative folder.

    I just got a letter from Son's new psychiatrist so that we can begin the IEP process to implement a behavior response plan. Son is good academically, but his first year of high school has been a challenge behaviorally and socially because he's easily led and baited along with overreactions to perceived slights. At this point, current psychiatrist says Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified so I'm running with that. I know that Son has been called annoying by a few of his classmates.

    However, I have to give props to his high school, they have been very understanding of his quirks and social challenges and have assisted him to develop appropriate behaviors. But, I have decided he needs the protection of an IEP. He's had a few close calls that got him strict warnings. Last Thursday, he threatened a classmate, who kept challenging him to fight, that he had a knife and he "was going to go down". Son's side was that the kid kept challenging him during class and at first he ignored him. Finally, after the fifth time, Son had had enough. Son and his backpack were searched by security and the school police resource officer. Of course, they found nothing. Son is very thin and smaller than most of his classmates so he knows he can't go toe-to-toe with them physically. So, he threatens that he has a weapon to get them to leave him alone. It's the second time this year. Anyway, the other boy, was suspended for three days for attempting to incite a fight. Son said he was relieved to not have to deal with him for three days.

    Son also has challenges when there's a sub. The other kids will take advantage and he ends up getting in trouble because they pick on him and he reacts.

    If I were in your situation, I would let it go other than writing that letter for his file. Keep your pictures if they are needed. I have to say though, I don't think it's likely the new school is going to judge your Son too harshly. Get in contact with the Admin and the school counselor BEFORE enrolling him. Tour the school with the appropriate personnel. Let them know of your Son's challenges. Plus, other schools do see the mess that other schools make when dealing with a special needs student and their files. I wouldn't disparage to old school too much, if at all.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
     
  14. sosotired

    sosotired New Member

    Thank you all for your responses. Many I've copied and will keep as I get my brain wrapped around this and decide what to do.

    A special thank you to exhaustedinutah. Your response helped me tremendously, in simple terms (as I'm not as educated about this process as I probably could be) and reminded me to advocate proactively for my son. I think a move is the best course of action as this is the third time he's been attacked in two years. The precedent was set in 6th grade and now he's a punching bag. Thankfully, he's not too terribly upset about.
     
  15. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    So... your son is in social skills class in part to deal with his irritating behaviors? Perhaps the other student should be attending anger management classes. But only if both are equally responsible for the incident. ;)
     
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I can vouch for this. When difficult child 3 transferred form our local school to the highway school, the old school actually sent his files along with me, I had an armful of files in my car. In order to carry them from my car to the new school office, I quickly grabbed a very gaudy carry bag that I'd just got as a freebie in a magazine. I wanted my bag back, so I asked the staff to please give me back my bag when they had put all difficult child 3's files away.

    One term later, and we realised difficult child 3 was not going to make it in any mainstream school. In that time we'd had two IEP meetings, there had been other meetings with other disability support staff, difficult child 3 had his aide transfer form the local school to his new school so he had continuity - and when I went to clean out his desk, I was given my gaudy carrier bag - with all the files still in it, not touched or looked at. "Haven't had time," I was told. And that was a GOOD school!

    The other point - that bag was a mix of colours, mostly fluoro orange, red and pink. No way could you miss it.

    I think writing the letter is a good idea. Chances are, it will have more long-term benefit for your son, than anything else you could do.

    Marg
     
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