Random Public School Annoyances (minor rant)

My daughter started the gifted program the other day, so I drove her to school to walk her to her new classroom (she’s 6). I checked in at the office and was told that parents aren’t allowed to walk their children to class. In order to see the teacher, I needed an appointment. The only exception was the first day of school. I explained that this was like her first day of school since she was starting a new class and she needed to get her supplies from her old class and transfer them to her new classroom and I would like to help her. Nope, rules are rules, the teachers will take care of that.

Well, after being a general pain in the ass, the principal finally agreed to let me walk back there with her. I sign in, get a name badge printed and display it on my shirt. I was stopped no fewer than 4 times during the visit by various teachers/administrators who said “Can I help you, sir?” while looking at me like I was Osama bin Laden. Despite having the name badge which had shown that I went through the office, I had to repeat the same story 4 times. Each time I was told, “We can help her transfer her things.” I know that, but as a parent, I would like to be there with my 6 year old as she changes classes. She was nervous about it and I wanted to be there to reassure her. I’m not a helicopter parent. Once things were done, I left.

On the way out, the principal asked if everything went okay, and I explained to him how everyone treated me like an intruder. He said that he agreed with my frustration, but the sad fact of modern day life made it a policy that all visitors are to be carefully scrutinized.

Visitor? I’m a parent.

“Well,” he said, “there are custody issues with some parents and we don’t know what the intentions of some parents are.” There is no custody issue with me. My wife and I are married, living together, and we both have full parental rights. There is a document attesting to that in my daughter’s file. Sorry; school policy.

Well, that pissed me off enough, but then this morning I get a call from the school nurse. My daughter got into a fight on the bus and was bleeding from her neck. No worries; minor injury. As any concerned parent, I asked what happened and was told that another child was grabbing her hair. My daughter punched the other child, and the other child returned the favor by clawing at her neck.

My next question was, “What punishment will be given to the child for pulling my daughter’s hair?” I was told that school discipline is a confidential matter.

I asked who the other child was? Confidential.

What? My child had a battery committed against her on the bus, and you can’t tell me who did it? I’m sure that she will tell me tonight, but this just astounds me.

Is all of this stuff normal? If so, no wonder why the public schools are going to hell. Here I am a concerned parent who wants to be a part of my child’s experience at the school, and I’m getting treated like Al Qaeda. Just tell me the name of the kid, and I’ll go have a conversation with his/her parents and see what we can work out to try to keep this from happening in the future.

Back in the day, teachers, parents, and administrators were a team to make good things happen. I feel like a bastard stepchild. I think I am going to mention this at the next PTA meeting and conclude with my resignation from the group since it seems that all the school wants from us is to buy fucking candy bars for fundraisers. Anything beyond that, we can get lost.

Anyone agree/disagree?

Alas, this is another “Pogo moment”. This is a malady self-inflicted by parents, in particular, and by shifting social mores in general. Back in the day to which you refer, the coordinated actions of parents, teachers, and school staff were that way because of a shared respect for one another’s efforts. Over the past couple decades, though, the more common approach by parents has been to respond to any perceived slight of the child with (a) disbelief and (b) the possibility of formal complaint or lawsuit. In response, the schools, staff, and teachers have retreated to the castle keep, pulled up the drawbridge and filled the moat.
The primary motivation is now often less about teaching children the necessities for proper civil function (literacy, math, civics) and more about protecting school from parental assault. Some of those assaults are direct, some come through the elected school board.

After thirty years in those castles, I found another enterprise which affords slightly more respect at even lower pay (an outcome I would have thought impossible).

I do not admire the school’s behavior, but I completely understand it. It is the same reflex that leads manufacturers to post stickers on lawn mowers advising the purchaser not to use it to cut hair. If you have a viable solution, I am here to volunteer my time to accomplish it.

Yes, it’s all true. Part of it is you’re male, so you’re automatically tagged as a sex offender and pedophile as well. I’ve always been watched with more scrutiny in schools than women are, simply for being male and alone waiting for my son to get out of school. Those zero tolerance rules are, quite frankly, bullshit. Sadly, if my ex-wife showed up to pick him up from school, (even though she’s not on the approved list), they’d probably let him go with her no questions asked.

It’s not just a public school thing- the private high that I went to, which has always prided itself on its sense of community and welcomeness for alumni, makes you sign in and wear a name badge, and provide a reason for your visit. No school wants to be held liable if some looney decides that they want to come in and shoot up the place. This is at a school that is well known for being one of the top high schools in the area, and has a very “kind and gentle” reputation.

I don’t care for the confidentiality policies either, and they are pretty useless, given that your kid is going to tell you all of that anyway. But, in the age of the lawsuit happy/ vigilante justice parent, it takes liability off of the school. My kids’ public school system has the same thing in place, and it is a pain, but a modern fact of life.

As far as being a team to make good things happen, that is definitely a YMMV situation. We have had great and terrible teachers and administrations in the 2 districts we have been in, and both of our kids have had behavioral issues that need dealt with. Let the teachers and the administration do their job, a dramatic stomping out of the PTA meeting is going to accomplish what exactly?

Probably nothing except my own personal satisfaction. Maybe the rest of the parents will rise up and demand change? Yeah, I laughed at myself on that one…

I dunno…the first part sounds kinda helicoptery to me. You insisted that the school deviate from established policy/procedure because your child is…special, somehow? Given the reactions received as you wandered around the school, it’s pretty clear that not very many people do what you did.

Suspect you’re going to be less pleased with the disciplinary situation regarding the fight. Some schools punish both fighters equally, regardless of who started it.

Old Hippie said what I would have, only without the huge amount of profanity.

I don’t think that was helicoptery. Her first day in a new class. She didn’t know where the room was, she expressed a sense of anxiety. I stayed for 15 minutes tops and then I left.

I understand that helicopter parents can’t cut the cord; that’s definitely not me. My wife maybe; not me.

If they punish her for fighting back after another kid pulled her hair and then made her bleed, will anyone post my bond tonight at the Palm Beach County Jail http://www.pbso.org/index.cfm?fa=corrections?

Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but I would be pissed, super pissed at that. Mad enough that…well, please follow the above link and post my bond.

The first part sounds a little bit helicoptery to me too. But then I come from a family where my family believed a LOT in independence when I was a child and would have told me, “Them’s the breaks, you’ll have to do it on your own.”

As for the second, it’s not a great policy, but I’m sure the school doesn’t want you charging over there to fight with the other kid’s parents. You say you wouldn’t, and I believe you, but the school has no reason to know that. Zero tolerance is not a great policy but there’s reasons behind it.

I also was super nervous about going into the gifted program in my school system, and then got into a fight with one of the other kids (well more like he just picked on me a ton).

My mom just took me out of the program. Too much bullshit for an anxious little kid.

Just so I understand…the professionals at the school thought that you should be in an advanced program because your intelligence level didn’t merit a continuation in the regular program.

But, because some asshole kid picked on you, you should return to the regular program that those professionals thought was inappropriate for you?

This does, of course, actually happen. One of the more depressing things that I have seen arise in the 25 years I’ve been teaching is parents who become participants in their children’s fights.

Just this Tuesday I met a mother who had come into school to talk to me as her son’s form tutor. I know he’s being bullied, we’re doing everything we can to help him, but frankly he brings a lot of it on himself as well. And I saw where he got that immaturity and tendency to overreact and go straight to violence which is causing him problems, when one of the kids he says is picking on him came past, kid A pointed him out, and the mother immediately jumped up and started yelling at him (grown woman, 12 year old kid), shouting and screaming right in his face, all kinds of threats, throwing her big bunch of keys around, threatening to beat him up, etc. It took two men to hold her back and get her out of the room. So, no, schools may not be that comfortable telling you who the other kid was. I’d respectfully suggest that you have something more important to deal with, namely that you now know that your daughter’s immediate reaction, rather than telling the driver or changing seats or any kind of sensible reaction like that, was to punch the other kid.

I go into my kids school all the time. Several times a week at least. The only time I had to sign in was when we were new to the school and they didn’t know me. Now they just wave Hi.

They heavily encourage parents to participate in class, help out the teachers on projects, or just read to the kids.

The idea of a parent being not allowed into the school is bizarre to me. And we go to just a normal public elementary in Tucson.

My wife taught in public schools for 30+ years and she has stories that would destroy any faith in humanity you might still have: divorced parents coming together for a parent-teacher conference and then getting into screaming matches in front of the teacher, non-custodial parents trying to sneak the child out of school despite a restraining order, gang members looking to settle a score during school hours, drunk and/or crazy people hanging around the building, yelling at the teachers and students. . . and this is in the suburbs.

Under the circumstances, the teachers are worried about whether there’s a gun in your pocket, not whether there’s a note in your daughter’s file.

Of course if you aren’t happy with your school’s policies, you can always complain to the school board (around here they meet once a month and always reserve time for questions from the floor). Don’t be surprised if they don’t change anything, though.

Yeah, I’m also really surprised by this lockdown mentality. Our (public) school welcomes parents pretty much at all times. People wander in at their convenience to work in the library, or have set times they volunteer in class, and we’re encouraged to come have lunch with our kids. So there are always parents walking the halls.

Now, we do have to sign in at the office and wear a badge, but I’ve never been harassed in the halls! If we volunteer where we might be one on one with kids, we need a simple background check, which seems like the right level of security to me.

(I will say, I’m a bit annoyed that all snacks must be store-bought. But on the other hand, lots of people let their cats sit on their kitchen counters, or contaminate every surface with raw chicken juice, so I guess I see the idea behind it. Plus, there are a lot of nut allergies at our school, so the officials are probably more comfortable with labeled items.)

Upshot: move to my neighborhood, man!

Welcome to the bloody male-around-elementary-school-therefore-suspicious-by-default club. I’m a stay at home Dad who’s involved in my son’s school. Every year I’m treated like Jean-frikken-Valjean for 2 months until they know me. It’s amazing how a sweet little kindergarten teacher can put so much “WTF are *you *doing here” in “May I help you?” Makes her look like she’s channelling DeNeiro or something.

I get the same thing in playgrounds too, esp. during the workday. I’ve taken to addressing unnecessary directions to my son just to show I’m with a kid whenever a mom gives me that look.

I can understand it, being a watchful parent myself, but it gets wearying after a while.

Oh gosh! A rant I can get behind. So many annoyances! Some are understandable and justified but these two…well I could probably out-rant many here.:wink:

Unfortunately this is very true (and very sad!) in my experience as well. My husband and I are both very involved (but not helicoptery) with my step-daughter’s education and we have both visited the school upon occasion and we have had cause to sign her out for the day each of us alone and both of us together. When he has gone to the school or tried to sign her out he has been thoroughly questioned even after providing ID, stopped repeatedly in the hallway (while predominately displaying his “Visitor” tag) and even denied access to his daughter until he presented the court-orders/custody plan (my husband is the custodial parent and her mother has limited access).

When I have gone in by myself (reminder: I am NOT her biological parent) I have never once been asked for ID, the only things said to me in the hallways has been “hello” or some other polite greeting even when I have tucked the “Visitor” tag into my pocket and never have I been asked to provide any legal documentation to show that I had any rights of access to the child. When my husband and I both go to the school together the staff always speaks to me, directs any questions to me and pretty much acts like my husband (the child’s father!) shouldn’t be there at all. Once he was even asked to wait in the office while I took care of whatever business we were doing. I had to politely explain that it was he who was needed and if anyone waited outside it should be me- to which it was replied that wouldn’t be necessary and that I was of course welcome in the classroom.

This is one of the very worst things about zero tolerance for fighting or non-violence policies. My oldest son got caught up in this in junior high. One fine day when he was 13 there was an incident on the school bus when some kid who didn’t like him called his name. When my son turned his head, he was punched in the face (I still have photographs of the bruised jaw he came home with). My son knew the school’s stance on fighting and has always been a “turn the other cheek” kind of guy, so he did his level best to ignore it. He moved to the front of the bus, tried to tell the driver (was told to be quiet!) and then just suffered through until his stop.

This was on a public school bus with video monitoring the entire incident was captured on tape and proved that my son was hit and was not “fighting” and did nothing to provoke the attack. What the school did however, rather than disciplining the child who assaulted mine, called the school resource (police) officer the next morning and had both of the boys arrested. Arrested- read their rights and everything and charged with battery or some such (all without notifying me or any other parent). I found out when I got a summons to a court date that my child was to attend. As it happened he could not make that date so I called the court to find out how to reschedule and when he would be able to give his side of the story etc. and I was told that this court date was not a hearing at all that he was “assumed guilty” because of however it got filed (it was more like a ticket than a criminal charge I guess) and he needed to appear in court only to receive his punishment which would likely be community service and a fine.

Well my son was innocent, I had the video to prove it and now I was being told that there wasn’t even an option to defend himself from the criminal accusations the school leveled. Grrrr (can you tell I am still frustrated about it? ;)) So what I did was just completely ignored the summons- we were moving anyway (to another school district) so I tossed it in the trash and went on with my life. About a year later we received a notice that he had missed his court date and that he better show up at such and such a place and time or face dire consequences…blah, blah, blah…But by then we were already packing for a move to Guam (military family of course) so I tossed that one too and never gave it much thought until…

My son is now an adult and is following in his grandfathers’, father’s, and step-father’s footsteps and decided to enlist. I went with him to the recruiter’s office (for moral support only) and when they were going over information for the background check it all came rushing back to me. I was so afraid that his “juvenile record” was going to haunt him, so I spoke up and admitted that he had been pseudo-arrested at one time (but not that he is a fugitive from justice). But my son, the Airman, passed the background check with flying colors.

All of that was meant to read, “I hear ya! Public schools can be so annoying!”

I’ve never seen a parent walk into the school with the kid: parents deposit kids at the door. Different cultures, I guess.

It is very common here for parents to walk their kids in for the first day of kindergarten, but typically not after that. I will sometimes walk Whatsit Jr. in to his classroom if I want to chat with his teacher for a minute before school, but that’s not really about needing to walk him into class. (In fact, he usually prefers it if he can go in first while I hang back and then go in a few minutes later while pretending not to notice his presence. :rolleyes: )