Safe School, My Ass

Today, my son returned from school with an inch-long bump on his forehead above his right eye that was beginning to bruise. He said another second grade student banged his head onto his desk. The teacher, according to my son, witnessed the entire event and did nothing to punish the boy who did this.

I’m sick and fucking tired about hearing how wonderfully safe the schools in our area are. This is not the first incident of student-on-student violence at this school. For months now, I’ve heard rumors about fifth grade students following first and second grade students to the bathrooms and beating them up. I don’t know any of the parents personally or I would contact them to form a coalition to take before the county board of education.

As it looks now, I’ll go alone. We live in a rural area in a relatively close-knit community. I know the principal, many of the teachers and aides on a personal basis. I went to this school as an elementary student. But I fear if ever an incident with a firearm were to occur at this facility, the death toll would be large due to the denial factor among the teachers and administrators.

This is not the first incident in which my son was a victim. I reported an incident in the first weeks of the school year to the principal who has yet to resolve the situation. To make matters worse, the incident happened on the school bus and was videotaped by the cameras placed on each bus. When I asked to view the tape myself, I was told the tapes are recorded over on a daily basis.

Does this seem safe? I don’t fucking think so. In fact, I’m willing to bet this falls along the lines of negligence.

Fuck it. I’m going to the principal again tomorrow. I’m going to make a royal pain in the ass of myself and sit outside his office until he deems me important enough to talk to. Then I’m fucking going to the board. And if that doesn’t work, I’m going to the newspapers and the television stations.

Our children should not be afraid to go to school. They should not have to be instructed to go to the bathrooms in pairs to avoid bodily injury. It’s a fucking school and I don’t like the lessons my son is learning.

Safe school, my fat white ass.

read this thread in IMHO: What can we do about school bullies?

I had read that thread before, but on your request re-read it once more. I understand my options are somewhat limited because: a. my son is in elementary school (the whole he-said, she-said saga); b. one child is not the only bully. They seem to run the gamut in different grade levels. This is simply the latest occurrence; and c. teachers cannot be everywhere all the time.

However, when my son reports to me that “The teacher saw him do it. And then I went and told her and she still didn’t do anything,” I want action and I want it now.
Like I said, this is not the first incident at this school. When I approached the principal in the beginning weeks of the school year, I also mentioned a minor altercation in which my son was not involved but witnessed on the playground at recess. I informed the principal that my son said the reason no teachers came to help the child being beaten at recess was because the teachers were standing in a group with their backs to the children. He acknowledged there was a problem with teachers monitoring the children’s behavior and then said the words I know I’ll hear tomorrow, “I’ll look into it.”

Obviously “looking into it” is not solving the problem. I will take the advice of one poster in the thread you linked and write letters to the teacher, principal, and school board for documentation. Further, I will from now on report each and every occurrence, creating (I hope) a paper trail.

Thank God there’s only six weeks of school left.

I’ve just finished composing the letter I will send to the teacher, principal, Superintendent of Schools, and members of the county board of education. It’s firm, but not abrasive. I basically state the recent incident, the previous, and ask for the parameters of discipline in the elementary school.

I’ll send it out tomorrow.

What would you do if this were your child? Would you immediately speak to the principal and teacher involved or let the letter speak for itself? Would you go before the board with a group or alone?

I may be making too much of this latest happening, but I feel bound by parental obligation to see that my child is safe. My child is not the type to cry wolf at every little thing. He’s a popular child who plays many youth league sports and can take care of himself most of the time. I’m finding fault with an educational system where some children are punished and some are not.

Favoritism and pre-judgement do not belong in a public school setting; however I feel that is quickly becoming the norm.


Protect your child to the limits of your abilities, but…

Don’t be naieve enought to think that he is gonna skate thru life. If the situation is as you have outlined it, go kick some rightious butt! But do not overreact to what may be a simple case of a child not getting the world to serve him. Judging by the OP this is not the case, but I thought I’d bring it up. No offense is meant here. Safe schools are an absolute right-make sure your child has them.

Don’t know if this will help Sheerah, but when similar things happened to my kids, I went directly to the parents of the children responsible. I explained the situation(s) and asked that they not be repeated. I expected the parents to be rude and dismissive. On the contrary, these parents were shocked and angered that their children would behave so poorly. End result-the kids who were hurting my children never did so again (as far as I know).

Don’t know if this will help Sheerah, but when similar things happened to my kids, I went directly to the parents of the children responsible. I explained the situation(s) and asked that they not be repeated. I expected the parents to be rude and dismissive. On the contrary, these parents were shocked and angered that their children would behave so poorly. Not only that, put these parents actually thanked me for telling them about the incidents. End result-the kids who were hurting my children never did so again (as far as I know).

One thing I’m very confused about is why you wouldn’t speak with the teacher first. You say that during the first weeks of school you reported an incident to the principal. Why would you not speak with your son’s teacher? (I’m assuming you haven’t, since you haven’t even mentioned it in passing.) I can understand that for the incident on the bus, since the teacher isn’t involved, but an incident in the classroom must go to the teacher first. Don’t assume s/he saw what happened; you weren’t there.

I would submit that the worst thing you can do is to go around any level of the organization. If you don’t bother speaking with the teacher and go to the principal, or you don’t bother speaking either either and go straight to the superintendent or the board, they will think you are a conniving weasel. And with good reason; even if YOU have a good complaint (and you do) most people who go straight to the top without giving the underlings a chance to do their jobs are conniving weasels. You might not be, but they don’t know that, do they?

Believe me, because I have teachers in the family and this is what they all say; if you go to the principal without going to the teacher, the principal will think to him/herself, “why the hell aren’t they dealing with (teacher name)?” S/he will assume you are a whiner.

Step 1: Go to the teacher. Explain, clamly and logically (once you start getting emotional the jig is up) what the problem is. State that you expect an immediate solution. Do not allow the conversation to end until a solution is offered or a meeting is scheduled with the principal.

Step 2: If this doesn’t work, you THEN go to the principal and you now have the added ammunition that you made an honest and fair effort to get the taecher’s help and were rebuffed. Repeat step 1.

Step 3: If you’re rebuffed by the principal, THEN you go to the superintendent or whomever his superior is (it’s probably not the board.)

Shell’s idea to go to the parents is good, too, and may work. But if you find going through the school is necessary, follow the chain of command.

I want to echo Rickjay’s excellent post: go talk to the teacher first. There is plenty of time for more radical steps later, if needed.

Furthermore, remember that this isn’t an issue of whether or not your son is telling hte truth–you know your son, and if you know that he is not the type to exaggerate, then he is not the type to exaggerate. However, even very truthful children have odd senses of perspective: they are usually not very good at judging what is obvious and what is not. For example, they often think that if an adult is in the room then they are the center of that adults attention (the egocentrism of childhood). They often aren’t aware that adults get distracted too. Furthermore, children often don’t explain themselves well: telling the teacher about a violent attack can come out as “Johnny is picking on me” or something. Finally, you don’t know that the teacher hasn’t do anything–she may well have called the child’s parents or something.

I would go in acting concerned, not angry. Anger may well be justified, but it won’t be useful, it will just get his hackles up. Go in concerned about the level of violence at the school and ask the teacher what can be done about it. List all these examples, ending with this most recent one. Say that the issue that concerns you most is that your son asked for protection from him (the teacher) and was rebuked. Be willing/open to the teacher’s version of events, but don’t be stupid (this is the hard part–you may never know what really, objectivly, happened. The teacher’s overall reaction should give you some clue as to whether or not she acted in good faith) And as RickJay said, don’t leave til you either have some answers or have an appointment with the principal.

I posted this last night (5-16) for those of you who questioned why I hadn’t spoken to the teacher. It was 7 p.m. at night and I was very angry. I do not like to confront people, whether wrong or right, when I am upset because I know I have a tendency to be self-righteous and unrealistic in my expectations. I posted this thread to sort out my frustration and aggravation and also to hear what many of you would do if you were in a similar situation.

This morning, I had calmed down significantly and went to the school to speak with the teacher about the events that occurred yesterday. She has taken personal days and will be out until Monday. Instead, I spoke with the principal and gave him a copy of the letter. I did not attack or accuse anyone; I simply stated exactly what my son had told me and asked that the situation be rectified.

The principal and I spoke for nearly 40 minutes this morning and he informed me that the teacher in question had not reported this incident to him, but that he would speak with her on Monday. I asked to be present and he complied. I further discussed with the principal reports I’ve heard from other mothers of children about particular bullies at the school. He stated, “We have a bully problem, I don’t deny that. But many parents do not feel their children have done anything wrong when we try to discipline them for bad behavior.” In my opinion, ignoring the problem hoping it will go away is a negligent attitude to have in this day and age.

And I am going through the chain of command. In the school handbook distributed at the beginning of the year, it states, “. . .concerns regarding a student or a student’s behavior in the classroom shall be addressed to the principal. If further action is required, the parent/parents shall meet with both the principal and said teacher/instructor/tutor.”

And yes, the board of education directly oversees the employment of the principal. The superintendent of schools may make a recommendation to hire/fire employees of the county school system, however a board vote for approval is needed for any employment matters.

I also agree with RickJay’s proposed plan. But of course, I’m one of RickJay’s faithful followers, so I guess I’m blinded by his brilliance… :wink:

My mom is a teacher - and I agree that you should take it to the teacher first - even if said teacher is a first class jackass. Be calm, be cool, be collected. The minute you get emotional or carried away - or even just raise your voice - you’re done in. Bring a witness if you want (child’s dad, grandparent, family friend) but not the child initially. You may find out the teacher didn’t see what happened. If that is the case, make a quiet request that the next time your child is injured, you would like the school to call - even if the teacher didn’t see the incident. At my mother’s school, the minute a child has a head injury that is visible (bump, bruise, whatever), they are obligated to call the child’s parents, regardless of how trivial the injury looks.

If you’re going to make that request, don’t do it in front of the child. Some kids develop schoolavitis from the knowledge :wink:

Good luck,


Oh, please. We should all be so worried about “getting the teacher’s hackles up”?? Sorry, but fuck that lame assed shit on toast.

Yeah, I have teachers in the family too- my wife ( AND Mom, god…what does that mean? ). You know what? They’re not Mother Theresa, the rules of Cover Your Ass apply even when you are tenured ( which, to only minorly hijack here, is to my point of view a license to abuse ). I would absolutely NOT go to the teacher. The teacher will say exactly what they need to say to make the problem go away, whether it is the truth or not. Going to their boss- the school Principal- will make for a radically different reaction.

Yeah, it’ll piss the teacher off. Ooh, poor widdy wooby teacher. It’ll also remind them of their legal accountability vis a vis the safety of every kid in their classroom.

Here’s a teeny tiny little example. A few years ago, my child was humiliated by his teacher in front of the entire classroom. Wanna know why?? Because it was the beginning of the school year, and he announced that his Daddy had worked with President Clinton. The teacher informed the class that President Clinton lived and worked in Washington, D.C.and we were living in NY State, and perhaps my son might want to get control over his imagination. Well, guess the fuck what? My son said that because he had been looking at a photograph of me…working with President Clinton !! But, because he was in the lower grades of elementary school and his teacher refused to allow him the benefit of the doubt, she humiliated him in front of his new class. Fucking bitch.

I went to the Principal. Any adult who so badly needs to be in control that she humiliates a small child to make herself feel better wasn’t worth the time of day to me. I sat down and explained to the Principal what my son had said, and what the teacher’s response was. Now, this Principal happens to know what I do for a living. He didn’t say anything for a moment, and then I handed him the photograph, and said, " When your teacher denies this entire thing, you better keep this image in your mind when you reprimand her".

She was told to suck it up and apologize to my son IN FRONT OF THE CLASS- something she did the next day. I was shocked she even did that.

Don’t deal with the teacher directly. He/she is on a power trip inside the walls of their classroom. Deal with their supervisor. Although, as I stated in the IMHO thread about bullies, my take would be to simply call the police. Nothing makes a teacher stand up and take notice like realizing that they are not the king of all they see…

<pissed as hell now>


My girl is only 11 months old, so I’m trying to learn.

However, for any organization, I always try to go directly to the person concerned and document. In this case the teacher. Now if it was my kid, and I ain’t there yet, I would probably also inform said teacher that I would additionally contact the principal and that there would be a paper trail. “Sorry, I know it can cause problems for you and may not be deserved, but hope you (the teacher) can understand I have to protect my child. Before I contact the principal, would you suggest another course of action that maybe I haven’t considered?”

Always document you action so if it really does need to be escalated or your child or a classmate has a repeat, then there is a paper trail and you can really get tough.

Cartooniverse, of course the teacher humiliated him, he didn’t provide a cite to back up his claim. :wink:

Cartooniverse, you might consider reading Manda JO’s reply.

Your child was singled out to be mocked by the teacher. With the information Sheerah has been able to supply, neither we nor she really knows yet what happened in the context of the event.

As the parent of a kid who has behavior problems (meaning that he is placed with other kids with behavior problems), I have seen a lot of different scenarios. My son has come home convinced that he was brutally beaten while the teachers simply congratulated his assailant for his technique. Then I have discovered that his assailant was suspended for the incident. My son has also come home and mentioned that he scuffled with a kid, only because I have asked where he got a bruise, and shrugged off the incident that I later discovered was a full-blown assault against him.

The way that kids describe events is not always informative–and the way that kids describe an event to a concerned parent may not be the way they described it to a harried teacher.

It is also possible that the incident could have been a mutual tussle close enough to the end of the day that the welt had not raised and the teacher did not think a “minor” scuffle was worth an incident report. (I am not suggesting that having one’s head slammed on a desk is minor. I am suggesting that if the teacher did not witness the actual event, looking up in time to see two scuffling kids separate, the teacher may not have realized the seriousness of the action.)

If the teacher is ignoring violence in the classroom or favoring one kid over another, I’m perfectly willing to buy the rope for a lynching. It is simple courtesy, however, to determine the facts of an incident before one starts looking for a sturdy tree.

I was beaten nearly every day by kids at school in grades 1-3.My mother did nothing because she expected the teacher to know best and to handle it, and besides, it could not possibly be as bad as I said it was. After a while I stopped telling her the new ways they thought of torturing me.

Teachers did nothing. They said that it takes two to tango. They said I had to learn how to get along with others. They told me not to scream so much when I was beaten and tortured and the kids would not beat and “tease” me so much. that they would grow bored if i just did not react so strongly. Some said I must be the bully since all the playground fights involved me. The torture I endured got worse each week as the other kids grew bolder because of the knowledge they would not face punishment. The worst was when I was raped by a 12 year old with dozens, maybe hundreds cheering on him and the ones holding me down.

You are doing the right thing by following the book and going to the principal first. You are doing the right thing by keeping your nose in it and letting the princpal and the teacher know that if they allow violence, someone will speak up. BE A PAIN IN THE ASS. Your interference may prevent something like what happened to me from happening to another.

By the way, I knew a bus driver that was having trouble with bullies on the bus and the principal would not contact the parents. She contacted the parents and the kids behaved after that. Sometimes kids just need to know that they will face consequences for their behavior. A child that behaves at home may act out away from his or her parents if they find that they can get away with it. The reason the principal would not contact the parents was that the children were black and he was afraid of blacks. Stupid, yes. I am sure those kids are better people because the bus driver told their parents. The parents were grateful. Some won’t be. I have met my share of those, but you never know until you talk to them.

I have questioned my son about the situation several times since Wednesday night when I first posted. His story never changes; I’m inclined to believe him, not simply because he is my child, but because the story remains the same. In a nutshell and to allow more details this is what happened.

On Wednesday at school, the first and second grade classes went on an end-of-year field trip to the zoo. They did not return to the school until the last 30 minutes of the final period. During those 30 minutes, the students went to their regular classrooms. My son’s class watched tv (that’s a whole other issue with me but I digress) while waiting dismissal. My son and his classmates were sitting on the floor watching when the other child in this situation plopped down next to my son. The other student took my son’s folder and then his backpack. The teacher told the child to give my son’s things back to him. The child did and got up to move to another area of the classroom. He then placed his hand on the side of my son’s face and smacked his head onto the desk leg, leaving the bump. When the teacher did not react to this, my son got up and told the teacher what happened. She then turned her back on my son.

The above is written in my words, not my son’s, although the meaning is the same.

Tonight I made some calls to some of my son’s parents. They also told me of similar instances by this one child to their children. He seems to have a history of picking on other kids, not necessarily smaller or unpopular kids. It seems as if any one will do.

These other parents also expressed to me that when they reported incidents to the school of this child doing such to their children that this child received no punishment or discipline. I have a large problem with that. By ignoring his behavior they are condoning it.

And don’t misunderstand that I think my child is without blame. In fact, the first question I had for him when he told me of this incident was, “Did you do anything to provoke him? Was he getting back at you for something?” I wanted to ferret that out first.

My son was disciplined earlier this year for punching his buddy in the arm. His friend’s mother and I discussed the incident and her son had told her that they were joking around and that they didn’t think it merited discipline. Nevertheless, it was an act that violates the Safe Schools Act of 1996 and therefore, I had absolutely no problem with my son receiving a one-day in-school suspension. By the way, my son and that boy are still the best of friends and play together on a daily basis. I don’t think either one of them realized a punch on the arm equaled disciplinary measures. And no, he didn’t bruise or swell.

It just seems that certain children are given ‘diplomatic immunity’ and go without punishment of any sort because of parental retribution or mommy or daddy’s status in the community. This is an elementary school, one of two in the county, with less than 300 kids in grades K through 5. Like I said, it’s a close-knit community. Some kids profit from it, some don’t.

Well, if this kid is doing this regularly and getting a “Get Out of Jail Free” pass from the teacher, you could always go to the prosecutor and charge the kid with battery. Explaining the situation to the teacher and principal, first, might get them off dead center, but if it is politics shielding this kid, a genuine criminal charge (or its threat) might shake them up.

I don’t want to sound like I’m quick to jump on the litigation bandwagon, but I thought the school administration might see the light if I took the city police chief up to the school with me (I’ve worked with him on stories before). However, as outrageous as this may sound, I don’t want to create an adversarial relationship between the school and myself/my son and either drawing law enforcement into the fray or the county prosecutor (who by the way is the legal counsel for the school board ) may do just that. I would much prefer to keep the lines of communication open. That’s why I went to speak with the teacher first, and when she wasn’t there, then the principal.

Oh, and because I didn’t preview (obviously) the statement in the fourth paragraph should read "I made some calls tonight to some of my son’s classmates’ parents. . . " Duh.

I guess right now, my options for further action depend on whatever takes place on Monday. I’m starting to wonder if I’m making too big of a deal out of this. I mean, my kid isn’t permanently scarred or for that matter-- scared-- of this other child. But at the same time, I do not believe under any circumstance that violence, prejudice, or favoritism belong in the public school setting. Whether it be a blow to the head, a knife at school, or threatening another student, it should not be tolerated. At all. If we’re going to have a Safe Schools Act; make our schools safe for everyone. Not just those children of priviledge.

Wow, someone actually taking my advice! As a teacher, I can tell you that I would want to know if a child was continually assaulting other students, and I would want every incident reported to me. Not all teachers are the same, but even those who tend to take a see-no-evil attitude towards discipline need to be contacted consistently when there are incidents of this type that happen repeatedly.

If nothing else, it puts the teacher and principal on notice that you will be keeping close tabs on the situation, and that you will be making a nuisance of yourself until it is resolved. It might dawn on them that it will be less of a niusance to deal with the bully than with you.

In an elementary school situation, you should always go to the teacher first. Sometimes students are not lying but are telling the truth as they see it. Perception can color events. If you are not satisfied with the responcse, by all means, go to the principal, then the superintendant, and the school board.

If you do need to take the legal action route, going through channels and exhausting the remedies found there will give your legal case more strength.