Update on school assault - choking incident (really long post)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by seriously, May 14, 2011.

  1. seriously

    seriously New Member

    There is now some question about whether the Choking Game (done to get "high") or a game where the purpose is more one of dare/domination is happening. The extent of the problem seems to be small and it is not being done openly in front of staff.

    The principal is working on it but is swamped with a site visit, another serious incident that happened the same afternoon, several IEPs - I think she has her plate more than full right now. But I do think she's as on top of it as possible right now and intends to take school-wide action once she is sure of what's going on. She is also on board with addressing the bullying but it's tough to get kids to trust that the adults will handle reports of bullying in a discreet way. That is certainly my son's attitude - telling will just make it worse because then he's a snitch and retaliation from other kids will make things worse.

    I made some phone calls at the district level over the past two days and feel confident that the issue will be addressed at the district level by various people. Hope the principal doesn't get mad at me but in each case I presented myself as simply a concerned parent asking for clarification about district policies and that I was not implying any criticism of the principal's actions.

    Called the district health office first. I talked to the nurse manager there about the decision not to call 911. She basically agreed with the principal's decision. She said there have been problems with schools sometimes calling 911 when not truly necessary and parents without health insurance getting a big bill ($600+) they couldn't pay. She also said that if there were no obvious signs of distress then she really thought that the principal had no justification for calling 911.

    I explained the reaction we got in ER and their statements that there can be delayed presentation of symptoms and that it was appropriate for him to have come in for assessment despite the only symptoms being mild/mod neck pain and very mild swelling. They kept him for about 90 minutes/2 hours for observation and then let us go with instructions.

    So the nurse said that was a good point and perhaps it would be a good idea for her to review the incident and discuss that concern with the principal.

    When I explained that my son had serious chronic health issues including asthma she pretty much changed her tune and said yes that 911 probably should have been called and she would definitely contact the school to follow up. I told her I had shared my perspective with the principal and felt that any future incidents with my son would probably be handled differently.

    The head of Safe Schools department called me at 5:30 yesterday afternoon. We talked for about 45 minutes. She was clearly supportive of my concerns about the possibility that there was any kind of choking game happening on campus. She also talked about the bullying issue. She said she'd talked to the principal before she called me and assured me that there would be school-wide actions taken once the principal and staff had figured everything out.

    I made sure she knew that my son is 5'5" and a freshman while the other boy is well over 6' and is a 17 yo junior. She agreed with me that made the incident even more troubling.

    The Safe Schools person said there has been no evidence that The Choking Game (getting high) is happening on the campuses in our area. She said the HS my son is at has been one of the safest HS campuses and felt I could count on the principal to take action to keep my son safe. She also said she is meeting with the principal next week to discuss things and find out what support the school district can give her in terms of school-wide education about bullying and choking games.

    Thursday I called the police department and talked to the detective who handles school crimes. He agreed that the report should probably have been treated as a crime report so that the full name of the student involved was included and that a check was made to ensure that there was no criminal history or ongoing problems that the school was not aware of. Otherwise, the system would not do anything since my son hadn't suffered any long term injuries.

    I told the officer that we were talking about a kid who is 17 and well over 6' tall doing this to my son who is 15 and 5'5". He did seem to think that made the incident more troubling but still thought that the school's punishments would be considered sufficient.

    At my son's IEP meeting on Friday we agreed upon a safety plan. My son agreed to keep to the ED classroom and stay in there during lunch for now. He's only mainstreamed for 1 class a day - the last class - and the ED teacher will decide if he keeps him in the ED classroom or sends him out to that class. If difficult child leaves the ED room it will be with an aide if it's during any passing periods.

    The ED teacher's classroom is popular during lunch time because the kids are welcome to hang out playing cards, using his microwave, play music - it's a fun place to hang. So that isn't really a hardship. The ED teacher asked my son if he was concerned about kids who aren't in the ED class being there during lunch and my son admitted there were some kids who are friends of the other boy that he'd rather not see during lunch. So the ED teacher is going to tell them they need to find somewhere else to hang out during lunch.

    I said difficult child would not be staying after school from now on. I expressed my feeling that it was unfair that difficult child couldn't stay after school and that I hoped the other boy's family was going to take similar action.

    Overall I am satisfied at this point. We'll see how things go over the next couple weeks.

    Thanks to everyone for their input.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sounds like you have done all you can. I am glad the principal is taking action, as are the other people. I don't agree with the nurse's first assessment because the principal cannot know at a glance if a student has asthma or another breathing problem that could make it super serious. As for the bill, well, that can often be written off at least 90% if a family has no insurance.

    I am glad safe schools are involved. They do a lot with bullying issues here and have some excellent programs. I really hope that all of these things together can end the choking thing, esp if it is a dare/domination thing. That terrifies me!

    I am also glad the report should be taken as a crime report and not an info report. Can you believe that both of Jessie's car accidents (where someone hit her at low speed) were written up as info reports?? Actually I was given a blank piece of paper with the officer's name on it to fill out myself. NO real report taken at all!!!! It is outrageous the things that the police don't want to bother with or want to let the school handle. I think the size difference between the boys, and the age difference is a big deal. It is good the teacher will keep them out of the ED room at lunch.

    You have done an awesome job at getting people's attention and letting them know how serious the problems are! Way to Go, Warrior Mom!!!
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I agree - you are handling this wonderfully.

    By what you have described, I don't think the choking game is to get high - It does sound more like a daring/dominant sort of game. It could be the first step toward the getting high type of game though if it is not kept in check. Also, it is still just as dangerous.

    Sounds like the school is responding appropriately to your concerns. Good for you! You have just assured that your son's school will be on the look out for the chocking games regardless of the intent. It is hard for them to spot because kids will not do it in front of adults unless it gets so carried away that they are not paying attention as to who is around. At that point they will truly will be dangerous.

    It might be helpful to get more info from your son. If he is not willing to talk to the school about what he knows about the choking games, maybe he will let you write down the information to be presented to the school. Get his view point as to when/how/why this may come into play. Also if there seems to be any student that seems obsessed with it the school should have their names. I would present it as you are all along - giving info, letting them know this is just yours and your son's understanding, making no effort on your own to lay blame with anyone.
  4. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    School districts are required to have insurance. My D tripped down a stair case in 8th grade when she was picking difficult child up after an after school program; he was in 5th grade and had been bussed to the middle school for the program. The SD insurance paid what my own health insurance did not - I had not met D's deductible yet that year so it was about $100 or so. You need to put a claim in if it happens.

    easy child broke his ankle at school in 7th grade. It was an out of district placement. They sent him away with a copy of the insurance form. I had different insurance at that point so I had no out of pocket expenses and I never filed the claim.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow, that's a lot of information.
    It sounds like you've got a plan, though.
    I'm sending strength, which you will definitely need in the next few days and weeks.