School - one step forward, two steps back...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I finally was able to meet with the school director today after the incident last week where the aide was prevented from intervening with wee difficult child. (I kept him out of school last week while his regular teacher was gone - she is back this week so he's been back in school this week.)

    We had a good visit. I am not the only parent to complain about this teacher. According to the director, she's been warned and further action will likely be taken in the near future. The director will be talking to her again, tho, based on this incident. The aide involved was very upset and had already spoken to the director, also.

    I talked with husband tonight, and we have decided to wait it out. We will focus on finding out what days difficult child's regular teacher will be gone and keeping him out of school those days. Not the best plan, but its what we've got. Most of the other teachers and aids there are really good with him.

    Anyway, befiore the meeting, I was watching wee difficult child play on the playground thru the classroom window. Its rare to be able to observe unseen.

    I saw wee difficult child coming across the playground, holding his right arm out, palm up. His shirt sleeve was pushed up and he was crying. I couldn't hear them unless someone screamed, but obviously he was hurt. I just watched to see how it would play out.

    He went to an aide. This aide happens to be the problem teacher's daughter. He held his arm out to her and they had some sort of conversation. He was crying. I could see her mouth to him that "playing rough gets you hurt". She was visibly irritated with difficult child. This aide then grabbed difficult child by the arm in question and lead him by it to another aide sitting about 5 feet away. I thought to myself "gee, hope its not broke", but it wasn't too upsetting. The second aide looked at his arm. difficult child continued to cry. The two aides talked, then the first aide lead him back to a table and sat him down. I wasn't sure if he was in trouble or sitting out because he was hurt. The first aide then went across the playground and got another little boy. They talked, she brought him back, and sat him at the other end of the table. I figured difficult child was in time out for his part of the problem. No big deal. Didn't like the arm grabbing, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I looked at my watch. It was 3:22.

    At 3:24 the aide that had tried to intervene last week came out the door and difficult child called to her. She started to him and he stood up. I heard the first aide yell at her to stay away from him and at difficult child to sit back down. I could hear it thru the closed windows.

    I watched a few minutes more and then spoke to the director right by the window I'd just been looking out of. You couldn't hear much unless it was pretty loud, but neither of us heard a thing, and I still wasn't terrible shocked at what I'd seen, so I wasn't really watching outside.

    When the director and I finished, I went straight out to the playground. The other kid in time out was long gone, but difficult child was still sitting at the table. He had his head down, laying there quietly. When I called to him, he came to me and started crying quietly. He said he was sorry he was a bad boy. I asked him what was going on, he said he was in time out. I asked if it was the first one and he said yes. Then he said he'd gotten bitten by the other boy.

    I looked at my watch. It was 3:50. His eyes were not red and puffy, his cheeks weren't red. He'd obviously stopped crying at least several minutes before I came out. We hadn't heard him screaming thru the window - yet he was still in time out.

    I was hot. Again.

    At this point, the first aide jumped in and started explaining how difficult child said he got bit but he didn't, and how he was still in time out because he had been screaming and getting up and carrying on unnecessarily so he had to be in time out longer.

    I just looked at her and said "I was here and looking out that (pointing up) window when you put him in time out at 3:20. Thirty minutes is too long for any kid this age, particularly this one." She tried to speak to me more but I turned and left with difficult child.

    Then I took difficult child to his BT appointment. We were running late because of all this, so I didn't talk to her before the appointment. When she brought difficult child out after, she asked if I was aware he'd been bitten at school. I explained that they said he wasn't. She then held out his arm and showed me, very clearly, where a bite mark was visible. She just wanted to be sure I alerted school as biting is a dangerous habit in kids this age.

    I will be meeting with the director again. Tomorrow if at all possible. I'm going to ask the helpful aide if difficult child truly fought the time out while I wasn't looking, but I already know the answer. And then I think I will be telling the first aide that if she feels difficult child needs disciplined, she needs to get another aide or teacher to do it. If she can't be more objective and fair than this, she needs to turn the reins over to someone who can. This isn't helping difficult child at all.

    Its too bad one (or possibly two) bad apples can so seriously spoil the whole basket.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2008
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That sounds really, really bad. Unfortunately, it also sounds really, really familiar.

    There has been a pre-judgement made - "difficult child is a problem therefore he is ALWAYS the one at fault." There is also a control issue - the teacher and her daughter both seem to be asserting their own authority even if it means going over the heads of others supposed to be given the task. The classroom aide should have been involved as soon as she was present; difficult child shouldn't have been blocked like this.

    What really upsets me - you have yourself become desensitised to this already. I am not blaming you at all - this happens to parents who try to toe the line and work hand in hand with the school. As I feel we should. But I fell into this trap as well, of bending over backwards to be seen to be fair, where our own child is concerned. The trouble is, you end up bending so far back that you let them discriminate against your child even while you watched, and you still didn't intervene. With what I know now, I would have been out there as soon as I saw my child apparently in time out. There should be no justification for putting a child in time out before all else when that child has been the one to report an incident. The incident should have been dealt with first, the arm looked at by someone less inclined to judge. Your thought on calling the other child over should have been, "Oh good, they are going to do conflict resolution with these two." It shouldn't have been, "Oh good, they're both in time out."

    I'm not saying that you shouldn't see your own child's faults - of course it's a good thing that you do, in so many ways. But the teacher has got you brainwashed. It is what teachers like this do, in trying to justify their own actions. They will blatantly lie about the child in order to protect their own skins. Not just your child; but any child. When challenged by a parent (or supervisor) they will try to raise anger against the child as a way of deflecting your anger at the teacher.

    I got brainwashed. My best friend got brainwashed. It happens. My friend's son was accused of being a thief and drug abuser, accused in front of classmates. His crime - he had picked up a bottle of prescription codeine that had fallen out of my bag. I had left the school at that point but he saw my name on the prescription label and made the private decision (he said) to bring it to me after school. I believe him - he was 10 years old at the time and along with his mother was a very good friend who I trusted.

    After school his mother (absolutely furious with the teacher's behaviour - she had made a lot of trouble for the boy) went to the school to see the teacher, with me in tow as witness. The teacher very quickly deflected my friend by saying, "You don't know just how concerned I have been for your son, for the last six months at least. This was just the last straw - I have had a year of him lying, not being a team player, shirking his work, being deceitful. Stealing just seemed the next step."
    My friend was successfully deflected and went home scolding her son who said, "Hang on - I thought you were on my side? What did I do that was so wrong?" and found himself grounded. Until a few days later, when his mother read his most recent school report, written the month before. The report was glowing - honest, trustworthy, a team player, works hard, achieving top marks. So either the teacher was lying when she wrote the report, or lying when she attacked the kid's character. Can't have it both ways.

    Your son sounds like my son - "I'm sorry I'm so bad." He genuinely believes he is bad, and probably believes it is inbuilt, part of his basic make-up the same way his hair is the colour it is. This is how difficult child 3 was, after years of teachers always assuming that if there was an incident involving difficult child 3, then it must be all his fault. We know now that generally it rarely was his fault, but he WOULD react if provoked.

    Your son did the right thing - he reported an incident. What is more, he reported it to someone he probably already knew would punish him, but being punished is still preferable to allowing bad things to continue and to allowing pain to continue to be inflicted.

    A child reporting an incident of violence or bullying should feel safe enough to do so. He certainly shouldn't be belittled for it. Also, research shows that in most cases, a child making an initial report of violence or bullying is likely to be speaking the truth. The teacher should always give the benefit of the doubt.

    The attitude at our local school, when a child reported being hurt by another, was generally, "Sort it out amongst yourselves." This is wrong. However, it is unfortunately common.

    I'd be back and complaining. I'd also diarise the incident so you have your own notes of this while it's still fresh. What you wrote for us here is good, but you need to keep your own copy of this in your files at home.

    Be strong. Do not let them browbeat you, do not let them make you doubt your own values or back off in any way. What you observed was discriminatory, was damaging, was belittling to the child reporting being injured. Your son was bitten - she should have seen this if she looked. But even if there was no mark, to a child who has just been physically injured, to be told "You're lying, so now you can sit in time out for lying," is adding emotional abuse to the physical he just experienced.

    She called the other boy over - why? Was he punished too? Or was it to say, "difficult child says you bit him. He's lying, isn't he?"
    She might have said, "If you bit difficult child then he must have provoked you,"
    but I doubt she did because she was so insistent to you afterwards that difficult child had not been bitten.

    What we experienced - difficult child 3 would come home from school bleeding at the knees (I don't mean simple grazes, either) and telling me, "The mean boys tripped me up." difficult child 3 couldn't identify the bullies by name, but he COUDL describe events. I always had to question him carefully, to avoid "leading the witness". So instead of saying, "Who else was in the gang that attacked you?" all I could ask difficult child 3 was, "What happened first? Then what happened? Then what happened?"
    I wrote it down, as you have just done with us, then sent in a note to the teacher next morning outlining the incident as I had understood it from difficult child 3. "The group of boys including X, Y and Z and their four friends have been bullying difficult child 3 for some time, with little shoves here, a push there. Yesterday he said that X put his foot out to trip him just as difficult child 3 was running past, then they all laughed when he fell."
    difficult child 3 came home from school the next day puzzled and confused. I checked the note form the teacher. "X denies that it happened and he has six friends who all say difficult child 3 was running and fell over his own feet. I have explained to difficult child 3 that because he's autistic, sometimes he doesn't understand and can get the wrong idea. I questioned difficult child 3 about the incident, I asked him if perhaps he may have just tripped over his own feet. difficult child 3 finally admitted he could have been mistaken."
    I talked to difficult child 3 - he said that when he was told that he couldn't trust his own senses (my words) that he had to accept that he must have been mistaken. "But I could have sworn I saw X stick his foot out. But Mr S told me that because of my autism, I just saw something that couldn't have happened."

    The teacher was so zealous in his search for an easy solution that he taught difficult child 3 not only that he had to accept these attacks would continue, but he couldn't even trust his own observations. The teacher also taught the bullies that they could do what they liked to difficult child 3 and nobody would punish them for it. The problems escalated and difficult child 3's behaviour got worse.

    If you can't get this fixed, pull him out of school. I haven't gone back to check your entries - is he complaining of feeing nauseous? Is he vomiting? Or just feeling off-colour? We had all this with difficult child 3, even to the point of him running a low-grade fever. He wanted to be at school, he loved it. But he was getting sicker and sicker, so very ill that his teacher insisted that mere anxiety couldn't account for it. But it was eventually demonstrated to be anxiety. Everything else was ruled out. And when he finally left that school, there was no more nausea.

    GO fight for your kid. But be prepared for this teacher and her daughter to try to lay a great deal of blame on your child.

    If you can do some investigation, talk to other parents and try to get evidence of other similar problems with other kids. You might need their support.

    Good luck, go for it. My heart just breaks for you and your son. Neither of you deserve this. No wonder he seems to present as ODD!

  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Shari,
    I'm sitting here fuming! Your poor difficult child. I'm glad you didn't listen to that aide further and that you are going to report this incident. Thirty minutes in a time out is ridiculous and then he didn't even do anything! Grrrr.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Didn't the director witness this as well?

    I would certainly have looked at difficult child's arm and, upon wittnessing a bite, called the school immediately. Did you call yesterday afternoon from the docs or when you got home? If noone was there, I would have sent an email and then stated you would follow up with a phone call this morning.

    Shari, it is clear that the director is aware of this as well. If you were meeting with her and looking out the window and watching all this, she had to have been aware of what was going on. You can't be at a meeting, looking out the window that much, without the other person noticing.

    The fact that your child was in time out for 30 minutes is absurd! Especially since he was bitten. Why was he not take to the nurse and rinsed with antibacterial? I would be livid and not shy at all about causing a fuss today. You know there are procedures for this type of thing.

    Additionally, I would try my darnest to get one aide assigned to difficult child at all times. No one aide this day, another the next.

    Sorry. Poor difficult child.

  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    There is nothing that will trigger mother rage than someone not realizing you are watching and treating your child disrespectfully. I can feel my blood pressure rise just reading your post.
    I am the first to admit difficult child was difficult on the playground and way too energetic but somehow, I expect a positive redirection and quick turn around with time out. The goal is to burn off energy, foster peer social relationships and group play. Doesn't sound like the aide got that memo. :angrydude:
    Don't let anyone treat your son like he is of no consequence. The attitude that one bad apple is good. Work with the rest of team to help your son.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Take a picture of the bite mark.
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Thanks, as always, for your insight.
    I had decided, since it is so difficult to get with the director in a timely manner, to copy this post, put in names, print it off, and give it to the director. I will ask her to call me to discuss, and tell her that I do not want this aide in question discplining my son, in addition to pulling him out when the problem teacher is the only one at school. I will also request a meeting during which it will be laid out that the aide that has twice now tried to intervene WILL BE ALLOWED to intervene in any and all situations. Period. If we can't comply with this, I can send him to public school where he can treated with disregard for free.
    TM - to clarify - we weren't watching out the window while meeting. I was watching prior to the meeting, and, like Marg pointed out, I think I've been conditioned to assume the aide was in the right. But we weren't watching or even able to see the playground while seated. We just would have been able to hear had he escalated to screaming, and we did not hear difficult child or the aide yell at him even once during the meeting. The only other negative interaction with this aide and difficult child was late this summer - she made him eat cottage cheese I'd put in his lunch, despite his complaints, and it turns out the entire container was bad. It wasn't curdled/expired/sickly bad, but it was very bad-tasting and we threw the whole thing out. He still will not eat cottage cheese now, tho, because of it. But now I look back and wonder how long she's held this attitude towards him. Probably since the beginning.
    We got to school this morning and he immediately looked for the problem teacher's car after verifying that his regular teacher's car was there. When he saw it, he sighed, and started taking deep breaths to calm himself. He went from being bouncy and happy to very, very quiet. I left him with no problems, tho it broke my heart that these one or two people have such a hugely negative impact on him.
    Hang in there little man....mommy's working on it. I'm revising this post right now...
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Argghhh! Shari, I think you should repost this to the Special Education board.

    Be sure and take pictures of the bite mark, and have a camera handy in the future. Biting is usually taken very seriously and having visual proof could gain leverage higher up in the administration if this crew isn't doing their job.

    Including a card with the name of an educational attorney along with the picture would probably have significant impact as well.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    Please document the bite with a photo. It may be important. People like this aide get some sort of charge out of targetting the most vulnerable kids, the ones they think no one will believe.

    Insist on seeing the Director. Her schedule is irrelevant - YOUR child is being ABUSED by this aide and her mother. MAybe the good aide can identify another good aide who will not label your son as a "bad kid" and one of htem can be on duty wherever your son is at all times, to protect him from the others?

    It needs to be in his IEP that he is NOT to be in a room with the problem teacher or aide, that they are to have NO authority over him.

    I am SURE that this would make a LOVELY media story, esp if you end up having to pull your child out of this school to send him to public school.

    Send your little man hugs for me, and a special treat. He did NOT deserve this treatment!!!
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    by the way, isn't the rule for time-out ONE MINUTE per year of age, up to age TEN? NOT one HOUR??? Maybe copying that from the what to expect book, or any other book on time outs would be helpful, as CLEARLY this is NOT the policy at this school??

  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    that's neat that your son actually tries to control himself by taking deep breaths. He's acting very mature!
    I would definitely use this phrasing and be very firm about it: If she can't be more objective and fair than this, she needs to turn the reins over to someone who can.

    They are definitely prejudging your difficult child.

    That's great that you were able to observe through the window. Good job!

    Best of luck with-the meeting. Stand strong. I'll bet that once this is over, a bunch of parents will come out of the woodwork and say things that they were too afraid to say b4.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shari, I hope you don't see my post for a while because you're already down at the school waiting to see the director.

    If not, if you're still working on the wording - then here goes.

    Take the photos. I was smacking myself on the forehead for forgetting that one. We've done that a few times. Especially in this case because the idiot aide refused to accept tat there were bite marks. Mind you, she will probably say that bite marks in the photo were put there by difficult child. Kids can do this - I remember an incident I had with the pretty girl in my class in Grade 4, she told the relief teacher that I had bitten her on the arm in the washroom (I wouldn't go in the washroom if she was in there - she was not to be trusted). I know I didn't bite her, my friends had been with me and also tried to support me, but I ended up on detention for it (her aim - she needed me out of the way for that particular lunch time). The girl was very calm when she told the teacher with those classic sly glances in the direction of the person she's targetting (as mean kids will do). The story went round the kids that she had bitten her own arm (it was the forearm - easy to do yourself). A self-bite, though, will tend to fade in minutes. You have to be quick. So if you take photos, make sure you date them and maybe have something obvious (like today's newspaper) in the photo to indicate you haven't just fiddled the date on the photo. If the bite mark is still showing two days later (as a bruise) then it was a bad bite and certainly not a self-inflicted one.

    Next step - ring the school and/or just turn up. With your letter. Hand deliver the letter, make sure you have a copy in your bag. Then sit and wait. This is important. Do not leave the premises unless escorted off by police. Take a thermos and your knitting. Make it clear that you are not leaving until this is sorted.


    What the hey? What kind of school is this, that has allowed this kind of behaviour to continue (and how could they not know?)

    The trick with the thermos and the knitting - I did this when trying to get a housing loan at a time when the bank was mucking around with our file. We had a loan for the land, we were ready to build but needed a loan for the project. An idiot bank manager advised us to pay out the land loan in full - which we did. Then we applied for the building loan, to be told that they could have extended an existing loan, but they weren't opening new files for a few months. I spat the dummy in the manner I just described. I was polite, I was calm, but I was firm - I had come prepared to sit and wait until I got a reply to the letter I had just hand-delivered.

    That is an important point - you need a reply in writing. You can be persuaded to leave with a verbal comittment but warn them that you want this confirmed in writing.

    Chances are, they will still try to avoid giving you a response in writing. No worries - here's how you ensure it anyway:

    YOU reply in writing, to them, outlining what was verbally agreed on and describing the contents of the meeting. I ALWAYS take minutes in meetings now. Where possible I will even record a meeting (illegally) using my laptop. I will not produce the recording, because technically it never happened. But I will use it to make sure I have got what was said, in detail and perfectly accurately.

    I then draft a letter as follows:
    "Dear ..., thank you for talking to me today about my concerns of... I found our meeting quite productive and I am glad that we have agreed to ....[list outcomes of meeting and what they agreed to do]. In turn, I have agreed to do the following [list your part in what to do]. If I have misunderstood or any of this is not a true record of what we discussed, please send corrections in writing for my files. If I do not receive any correction from you in writing then my files will indicate that this letter is a true and accurate record of our agreement."

    You t hen send this letter registered mail, or alternatively you hand-deliver it and take your own copy, getting your copy signed by them and by you as having been received and sighted. "This is a copy of letter which is acknowledge to have been received by the undersigned..." written on your copy. On their copy, it should indicate that a copy has been signed to indicate that this letter has been received.

    If you have a solicitor at this stage, good. But if you haven't - this method should still have them reaching for the Lomotil.

    Good luck, go get 'em.

    I do like the line, "I could take him up the road to the state school where they abuse kids for free..."

    Can I use it? Not that I think we will ever need it personally any more...

  13. Pookybear66

    Pookybear66 New Member

    Shari-Good luck with your meeting. Everyone here has given you wonderful advice. This board is a much needed respite for those of us facing these crazy situations. Your difficult child does not deserve being treated like this. Isn't it a policy that all situations (bites and other bullying) need to be written up as a formal incident? Or was it not because the aide "did not see anything"? Documentation is the keyword.
  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I delivered the letter to the director today. I have not heard back yet, tho I expect to.

    I worry that perhaps too much complaining will end up with them asking difficult child to leave, but I figure if that's what happens, then it needs to happn. He needs better than this.

    I have arranged for my brother to attend school outings with difficult child for the next few days to limit his interaction with the teacher and aid until we can hopefully straighten this out, without keeping him at home.

    When I dropped off the letter today, I was standing in the hallway and the class had just gotten back from a field trip. The teacher in question was VERY polite to me, so I figure she's been talked to again.

    However, another little boy inside the classroom, 20 feet away, saw me. He's 5. He told me three times that "difficult child's behavior today was just unacceptable". Know any 5 year olds who talk like that? Or was he parroting what he heard...I know where I place my bet. Interesting, also, that he was not one time told to keep to himself about it, he just sat in the middle of the classroom blurting this out loudly, and I was the one that finally told him that wasn't something he needed to be talking about, but thanks for caring.

    We will see. Fingers crossed.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Lots of alarm bells still ringing for me. So much here is setting your son up for institutionalised bullying, apparently endorsed (from the bullies' point of view) by the staff attitudes.

    Got to go - talk more later.

  16. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    This morning he was upset over his show and tell item. He forgot to finish it last night, and he was torn between taking it in an "uncool" state and waiting til next week. It really was a struggle for him.
    When he eventually calmed down a little, he said "Mom. I hate school. I think about running off sometimes so I don't have to go."
    This just breaks my heart.
  17. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Good idea about having brother attend with difficult child.
    When my difficult child was little 3rd grade, I think. He got an F in PE. No one seemed to be bothered by that but me. So I went to PE 3 times a week to make sure difficult child didn't wander off. He would get distracted and not follow instructions or play the games.
    Needless to say, I only attended 2 before the teacher got the idea that difficult child needed redirected and his mom is a little "out there".
    I'm all for hand's on if the school staff is struggling. I even took easy child who was a toddler at that time.
  18. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Please remind us Shari, is this a private school?
  19. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Yes, its a Montessori school. (never in a million years did I think I would have a kid that went to a private school - but...alas, it seems to be a better an easier fit than the public school option we have right now - unless, of course, we can't get this teacher thing worked out, then we'll take our chances with the public school.)

    The teacher we have problems with actually founded it years ago, left for 22 years, then came back. So she is not the director anymore. While she was gone, she apparently raised the daughter who is the aide, largely not using Montessori principals. I beleive the daughter was adopted out of foster care and needed very firm boundaries. This is where I think her thinking comes from that authoritarian discipline will fix anything.

    My difficult child doesn't have an IEP there, but they have been wonderful working with him, with the exception of the one teacher and the one aide, which he normally has limited interaction with.
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, I'm back.

    Shari, the history explains a fair bit here. The problem teacher founded the school and therefore still feels some ownership of it, still feels that she should be able to set the standards. Her daughter probably has similar ideas (from the mother probably pontificating at home and using the school to 'teach' daughter that might is right, daughter is now perfect as a result of these modified attitudes mother learned during raising daughter).

    Montessori shouldn't be like this. However, it's possible that the school has been generous with this problem teacher because after all, she DID start the school and in their mind deserves a fair bit of leeway. So be prepared for some resistance here, especially from senior staff who worked with her when she was there before.

    The personality of a founder, especially one who has so thoroughly changed direction and viewpoint although while still (seemingly) claiming to teach the same method (or else why go back to teach there if her views now seem so very different?) - she's a control freak. Her daughter has been Made in Her Image. And with this mindset, in order to live with herself she MUST be proven to be right. So everything she does is geared towards proving her right, by setting everything up to work that way. So a child she believes is a problem will be made to become a problem, by ongoing persecution at a broad level. Other staff are probably being encouraged to believe the problem children (there will be more than one, I don't think this is personal) need the firm hand and are completely bad. Very black and white. The trouble is, this is self-fulfilling (in their minds) because if all they ever see is the bad, even if they have to invent it, then they constantly feel justified in holding these views. You can't tell them. No matter what you say, what the principal says, this teacher and her daughter will not privately change their opinions and will continue to behave the way THEY feel is right, even if they have to wait until nobody is looking in order to continue doing what THEY feel must be done.
    An example: I believe you should put salt in the water when you cook potatoes. husband says that we never did it this way, I've only recently started doing it. I KNOW in my heart that I grew up being taught to put salt in the water when I cook potatoes. husband will watch me to make sure I don't; when he's not looking, I will add salt because I KNOW that without it, the potatoes just don't taste the same, even if you add the salt later. I do it my way when nobody is looking, because to me, the others are wrong and I am right. And after all, it's no big deal.

    The kind of teacher you describe in the problem teacher - to her, this is no big deal. She has a problem child occasionally come into her sphere of influence and she feels it is her duty to straighten this kid out before it's too late. No mollycoddling, but a firm hand. The kid shouldn't be getting all this extra attention from the aide (who is only making the problem worse, in this teacher's eyes, by giving the child attention when he's misbehaving). Added in with this and what I learned to recognise as a warning sign - when you hear them using language such as "attention-seeking", "oppositional" (which implies to me that the child is being deliberately naughty for his own evil purposes - I think that is so rare that it should never be considered the most likely possibility), "acting out" (whatever THAT is supposed to mean). Terms that are OK, not emotive or pejorative but simply letting you know that there is a problem with the child - "misbehaving", "agitated", "difficult", "distracting".

    The big warning signs I mentioned in my previous post were the other kid apparently parrotting what this problem teacher had said - it tells me a number of worrying things:

    1) The teacher is using emotive terms in her dealings with your son - "your behaviour today is just unacceptable" isn't helpful. In what way? How could he be acceptable? At least she said his behaviour was unacceptable, not the child himself. But did she give him any guidance on how to be acceptable? You don't manage these kids with negatives, you use positives. You don't say, "Don't do that," you say, "Do this instead." It is so very basic - but she doesn't get it. This is the same problem we had with difficult child 3's last mainstream teacher who is so determined that she knows best, that she has finally got to the point where she has refused all therapists, parents, etc permission to sit in on her classes to observe. She could be challenged on this by someone making a complaint, but she is such a forceful person nobody has yet dared to do so.

    2) The teacher has said what she said, in front of the other kids. Chances are she's said it multiple times to her audience because otherwise it wouldn't have so thoroughly impressed the 5 year old who spoke to you. It was announced to the class repeatedly, I suspect. Maybe even asked the opinion of the other kids - "Don't you think difficult child's behaviour has been unacceptable today?" although I AM only guessing here. It is also possible (again, conjecture) that she used the opportunity to explain what "unacceptable" means. I speak from experience - I will explain in a minute.

    3) The child said these things to you and was not corrected. It probably sounded rehearsed - they may have been already saying to difficult child before you arrived. The other children, I mean. Or at least this one.

    The huge problem with this, is a teacher apparently not only handling a difficult child inappropriately (and making things much worse) but recruiting children to continue her "work".

    I said I speak from experience - I was one of these "problem children" according to the sewing teacher I had in primary school. OUr first sewing teacher was lovely - gentle, kind, very good at teaching sewing. Then one day we had to say goodbye and the next week the new sewing teacher was the principal's wife. She was a bullying cow - I'm being kind. She may have known how to sew but I didn't feel she was as good as our previous teacher. She certainly wasn't much good with kids, although she quickly found her favourites and would use them to control the rest of us. To put it simply - she was cruel. So was her husband. One day a boy had forgotten his homework set by the principal so he made this boy stand out the front of the class, found a part of the boys' name that could be twisted to sound like "fool" and made him look up the word in the dictionary and read it aloud to the class. We were in Grade 5. At about the same time his wife, in sewing class, had put in place a rule that said we HAD to show our work to her before we could proceed. I was made to sit up the back of the room. Only one student at a time was permitted to be on their feet, so we had to wait until a student at her desk was finished and had sat down before we could stand up and go to her desk with our work. Because of where I was made to sit (despite being a glasses wearer and doctors' letters saying I had to sit up the front) I never got the chance to get to her desk to have my work looked at. So I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for my chance - so she called me an exhibitionist, in front of the class. Then told everyone in great detail what it meant. She actually coached the other girls in how to pronounce the word! When the mean girls (her favourites) grabbed at this and began to call me this in their name-calling, she sat there and let them.
    I had no recourse - who could I complain to? In my mother's eyes teachers were the final authority, she would believe an adult before she would believe a child.
    The one thing that convinced my mother (too late - but by then I had graduated out of that school) was when this nasty excuse for a teacher gave me the lowest mark possible, in sewing. Another girl got the same low mark - and because I had done so well in the written exam, she had to 'fudge' my practical mark to a ridiculously low level to do this. A practical mark of something like 5% - what at the time, aged 10, I had been making my own clothes for school? Admittedly with my mother's help, but I KNEW how to sew.

    THIS is why I worry for your son, Shari. OK, my nasty teacher was able to get away with far more than can be done these days, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still happen A LOT. It's just become sneakier.

    Your son's reaction - I can feel it. I remember feeling incredibly anxious and tense on sewing class days, or classes with the principal. I finally worked out how to mentally prepare myself and not let it touch me - and that made him even angrier when he realised I was now not reacting in the way a child was supposed to react - with fear, tears.

    Your son is much younger than I was and is far less well-equipped. He needs you to go fight for him. A lot of damage has already been done - if that 5 year old said what he said to you, then he felt VERY confident in doing so. He knew it was permitted, it was OK to do this because someone had let him believe this.

    This is subtle stuff, I don't know if the director will take this on board. To do so will be to challenge this matriarch of the school. All you can do is try, be prepared to be politely persistent (be polite - she won't be expecting it and it will make sure YOU are the good guy).

    The best thing you can do now - DON'T back away from any of this, don't let yourself be persuaded that you're making a fuss over nothing. If the nasty teacher tries to say that none of this happened, that your son is making it all up (or you are), or says that she has been misunderstood, she never meant for anything to be heard by the other kids, or that she has never said anything to upset difficult child - whatever she says, your ultimate answer can always be, "Even if you never intended to harm him, he HAS been harmed. Your words and actions have upset him and it was not justified, in my eyes. Nothing you can say now can change my opinion on this."
    Basically, if necessary bring it back down to, "You and I will have to agree to differ." There is also the important point that THE CHILD is supposed to be the focus here, not the teacher. In a case of sexual abuse, for example, if the child feels threatened or uncomfortable then it doesn't matter how innocent the adult's intention was, the adult has done the wrong thing; an adult is supposed to use their wisdom, training and experience to keep the child safe and unharmed. Think of the Hippocratic Oath - "First, do no harm." Teachers aren't doctors but similar principles should apply, especially in Montessori.

    Document it. I know I've said before that you should keep a letter to under a page - what you've told us here goes way over a page. So what I suggest - diarise. Dates, times, places, details. Be unemotional, make it sound like a police report if necessary. Be clinical. Then use it as an appendix to your letter.

    In your letter, you begin with the problem as you see it. First sentence. "I believe my son has been badly treated by this woman and her daughter. What I believe my son has endured goes against the IEP, goes against good teaching practices and goes against the principles of Montessori."
    You then have to say WHY. Again, you don't need to be detailed here, just a quick summary and a referral to the appendix for detailed report.
    You then say what you want the school to do. If necessary, you may say what you will do if they do not; you can also say what you will do if the school complies. This can be something positive like "If I feel I can trust this school to ensure my son's IEP is adhered to, that his aide be permitted access to him and to be permitted to do her job in supporting him, then I will feel less overloaded and perhaps have more capability to continue my work on the parent's committee. While I am constantly having to deal with these problems, I am not able to accomplish the many things I would like to achieve for this school."
    Or whatever - find a way of saying it.

    Sell it. Make it clear that yes, what has been happening to your son is wrong. Make the point tat you are not claiming your son has been singled out; the sad thing is, if she is teaching this way, she is damaging many more kids than your son; a child who is taught to be a bully is still a victim too. This is so far removed from what Montessori is about, that I'm sure a lot of other parents would be horrified to know about this. Why do parents put their kids in Montessori? How would these parents react if they somehow found out? Because find out they will - even if their child is not being bullied, merely observing what is happening will change their behaviour at home, parents will notice. As for the children more actively involved (such as that five year old) - those parents surely will see changes and want to ask questions.

    If necessary, mention the legal ramifications of the school being notified of this in writing, but dragging their heels to the point where other parents get upset at what happens to their children and take legal action.

    Of course you wouldn't stand at the school gate and tell all the other parents. Of course not... but kids will talk. Other parents will talk. Legally, you are free to talk (I think - check it out, but I can't see why not).

    This could be a good time to get an advocate working with you on this. Someone who is good at conflict resolution would be good.

    The director could be either:

    1) A very nice person with strong ideas on how things should work, who will drag tis teacher and her daughter in, make their position very clear and who will follow through to resolve everything to your satisfaction; or

    2) A weak person thoroughly browbeaten by this teacher who will try to find a solution that pleases everybody, or at least sweeps as much of it under the carpet as possible. A politician, in other words. Such a person will sound outraged on your son's behalf, will tell you they will "look into it", will assure you that nobody else has yet reported a problem but OF COURSE it will be given serious consideration; will be comforting, etc but will actually DO nothing. When challenged, OF COURSE they've been very busy (with a range of things pulled out of a hat at this point all more urgent). Here is where you make it clear tat you know the difference between "urgent" and "important". A spilt glass of water is urgent. An upcoming school concert that will be attended by the state governor is important. Urgent has to be dealt with now, but may not be important in the scheme of things. Make sure you can pin people down where you need to.

    Sorry this is so long - but this has been very nasty and while superficially it doesn't seem that big a deal, I think it's like the iceberg - there is something very big and dangerous underneath the surface, adding to your problems (and difficult child's) when in fact they should be reducing his problems.

    Shari, if at any time you feel the need to become a mother tiger, give way to it. Continue to be polite and keep control, but otherwise don't be fobbed off. I think they've done that successfully too much already.