Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When is it enough?

Its a long one! Writing it all out is like therapy to me.

Isaac has been dealing with bullying at school. In early January he was suspended for fighting back against 3 boys. We were encouraged by the principal (Ms. Crooks) to help him find tools to deal with how to appropriately react to similar situations in the future, so he would not be the one getting into trouble. When situations arise with my children I address them. In doing so, I have found out some details that disturb me. In a previous blog entry I had expressed frustration with Ms. Crook lying to me. Today was the last time.

Let me take you all back. In December Isaac was teasing a boy named Christian about liking a girl, the boy responded by pushing Isaac to the ground, putting his face into the ground and then shoving grass into his mouth. A call was put into the principal about what happened, unfortunately the next day Isaac decided to retaliate. For that he got into trouble. At this point Ms. Crooks referred to Isaac's behavior as bullying. I was bullied as a kid and there was no way I would tolerate my child doing that to another child. I took action, got him in to speak with a counselor who he continues to see now.

In January there was an incident with three boys while they were all playing a tripping game. The play turned serious when the three boys tackled Isaac in an effort to take him down to the ground since they were unable to trip him. I didn't view it on their part as malicious, but I could understand why Isaac felt threatened being tackled by three boys. That is not exactly what the principal told me. She told me repeatedly that Isaac said he was tripped and he got angry and that is why he tackled the other boys, she said all the kids had the same story. After he insisted that story was not true I dug further, finally getting the statement that he and she both had written on. The written account did NOT match what she had told me. I went further and called the school board, that was on a Friday. On Monday, which is the day he was suspended, I was able to speak with Paula at the school board who confirmed that none of the other statements reflected what she had said either. So instead of Isaac being the victim having been tackled by three boys just like his statement said, she said that he did it out of anger from being tripped. I expressed my frustration to Paula about Ms. Crooks lying to me and it was brushed off as her miscommunication the incident to me. Whatever.

Once Isaac got suspended he worked really hard on not reacting to other kids doing things to him and telling an adult instead. His teacher has him on a behavioral chart, he can receive two stars per day which can be earned through good playground behavior. He did an excellent job and only missed one star the whole time. He has been so proud of himself, he gets in the car and says "Mommy, I had a good day!" His efforts have really paid off and it has boosted his self esteem.

Last Thursday when Isaac got into the car he did what he was supposed to do and informed me of an incident that had just happened after school. We went in to talk to Ms. Crooks, but she was unavailable so we went over and talked to Isaac's teacher about it since Danny is in his class. He informed me that Danny had been in the office earlier for another incident and that he would call Danny's mom. Here is what happened per Isaac's account. When Isaac was waiting for me after school, a little boy named Danny who was in the same area as he was told him to leave that he was there first. Then Danny and some other boys began to call Isaac fat, took his back-pack, threw it in the bushes and they all stomped on it. One thing Isaac did say to me that made no sense was that the mom had pulled up, pointed at Isaac and said something but he didn't know what. He was acting strange and I knew that couldn't be the whole story. I later found out that he flipped the kids the bird in all his frustration and the mom saw it.

I sent Ms. Crooks an email and she called me after she spoke to all the kids and had them write their statement. Only Isaac said he didn't write one, she wrote it for him. She said that the kids did all have the same stories, only difference was she said that there was some kicking involved and the mom said he flipped them off (at this point he hadn't told me that). She said Isaac left out the part he played in it, which ended up being that he flipped them off. Things went fine up until yesterday.

I got a phone call from Ms. Crooks, she told me Isaac hadn't done anything but told me that Isaac was walking with Danny and another boy named Mark. Mark had a book that Danny asked to see, Isaac made a snide comment saying that Danny probably wouldn't give it back so Danny poked him with a pencil. She said we just need to keep encouraging Isaac to make better choices in the friends he plays with.

When he got home we talked about it and the story was similar. Isaac said they were in line to go back to their classroom and Isaac was standing with Mark. Danny cut the line and stood with them and that is when the remark was made and Isaac was "poked". Why did I put poked in quotes you ask? That would be because when I asked Isaac where he was "poked" and looked at it, there was a small puncture about an inch away from his right nipple. It was done with enough force to go through his shirt and puncture his skin. Danny was able to return to class after they visited the office.

I wrote Ms. Crooks an email and attached pictures of the puncture and cc someone from the school district because at this point I was pissed. What if the pencil had gone into his eye? At what point is this actually going to be addressed? I was able to vent my frustration to some lovely Internet friends of mine who were sincere in their concern and always have great advice. I knew they would be honest with me when I asked if I was overreacting. is the website I had found that gives advice on bullying and the steps to take when your child is being bullied or your child is the bully
I don't think my kids are perfect, I know they have their faults and they don't handle every situation properly. When they have a behavior that needs to be corrected, you bet your ass I am on top of it. When I feel my child is being singled out or treated badly I will do the same.

The only step that I had not yet taken was "Commit to making the bullying stop". The recommendation is that if the bullying persists or escalates to either contact an attorney or law enforcement. I spoke to an officer last night who suggested I call and speak to one of the school resource officers. Officer Creed, one of the School Resource officers said he would go by the school today to talk to Danny. I asked him if he could also talk to Isaac, it couldn't hurt right?

Ms. Crooks called me after the officer left the school and said that they had spoken to both boys. She explained to me how he was praised about how he handled the situation yesterday and that he left the office very happy. Then came the BUT...ugh. She told me he had gone out to recess and was playing handball and there was a boy running in front of the handball court saying "you can't hit me", Isaac threw the ball at him. A teacher who was scanning the playground saw it and told Isaac to park it, but Ms. Crooks said he refused so the teacher sent him to her office.

We had a long discussion, I told her I didn't feel like the situation was being handled properly since there were no consequences for what Danny had done. I laid all my frustrations out and explained that I just couldn't understand why Isaac had been suspended for defending himself yet this boy went straight back to class after he stabbed (poke graduated to stab when Isaac showed me how it was done and when I saw the puncture) Isaac with a pencil. I asked her at what point this would be taken seriously, all she could tell me was that they are handling it. The conversation ended with her saying that we would continue encouraging Isaac and that he had done so well until the last couple of days, he hadn't had any bumps in the road until now. After I got off the phone I cried. I felt like she was shifting the blame on Isaac once again.

After Isaac got into the car we talked about what happened at recess. I was upset that he refused to "park it" as the teacher had told him to do. I began talking to him about not disrespecting an adult and listening when he was told to do something. He said "I didn't refuse to do anything, Ms. Crooks said I did, but I didn't." So here I go doubting him again, I asked him if he was sure and he said he was. Calling the teacher who dealt with it was what I decided to do. I called Mrs. Fox and told her who I was and asked her if she could tell me what happened. She did say that she didn't see what transpired prior to Isaac throwing the ball, but she said she headed over to him and did yell to get his attention. When she told him that what he did was not okay, he became defensive and raised his voice saying that he didn't do anything. I knew exactly what she was talking about, I have seen him do that before and it is NOT OK. So I asked her, about him refusing to park it when she asked him to but she said he never did because she had never asked him to park it. Since he was so upset she thought he needed more than a time-out. That is when she sent him to the principals office.

I just broke down because I was so upset, I explained that Ms. Crooks had told me that he refused what Mrs. Fox told him to do. She said maybe Ms. Crooks misunderstood her, which I don't think is the case. Ms. Crooks is always trying to twist situations Isaac is in. Not to say that him raising his voice at the teacher wasn't a bad thing, it was and it has been addressed. Yelling at an adult is unacceptable no matter how upset he is. She could have just gone with the truth and I would have dealt with it just the same. I asked if she could put what she told me in an email and she offered to sit down with me and Ms. Crooks and talk about it, but I am done with it and I don't want to talk to her. I told her I would rather change schools than deal with Ms. Crooks anymore. She was very nice about it, she said that they don't want parents to feel frustrated the way I was and that they want us feeling that our kids are safe at school. Its too late for that.

February 16, 2012

After talking to the school board yesterday we made the decision to remove Isaac from that school. While Isaac and I were having breakfast I asked him if he had to write a statement yesterday and he said yes. When I asked him what he wrote he said "She told me to park it and I refused so I had to go to the office" I said "But you told me that didn't happen" He then said "Ms. Crooks said it did and told me I did and to write it down". He further clarified that when he told her what happened, she insisted that he refused the order to park-it, he told her what actually happened and she again said "you, refused. Write that down on your statement." She is unreal, I hate this woman for what she has been doing to my son. She thought that she could get him to write what she told him and I would look at his statement and think he had lied to me. Bet she didn't expect me to talk to that teacher who revealed the truth about the situation. I told Isaac for future reference that if ANYBODY at all ever tells him to write something that isn't true that he can tell them he will not write something that isn't true because that is not what happened.

It makes me sad that someone who is in such a position of authority over our children would abuse it the way she has. I know it happens all the time, but with the people that work with our kids we expect more than this.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Now I am Mad...

As I am standing in line at the bank I get a phone call from Isaac's principal, which is never good. I tell her I will call her back when I get out of the bank. When I call back she informs me that Isaac was involved in an incident today with another student. She tells me that Isaac and some other kids were playing a "tripping tag" game and one of the boys tripped him and he got angry and tackled the boy (Ben) to the ground and then kicked him in the back. Isaac would be suspended for Monday. Typically Isaac doesn't do this type of thing unprovoked, but I am still upset that he reacted this way. Afterall he was playing "tripping tag", what did he expect? We have been teaching him to walk away when someone does something that makes him mad, looks like that failed.

When he gets out of school I express my disappointment with him. I always question him and get him to tell me the sequence of events that lead up to the incident. He tells me that he tackled Ben because Ben and two other boys were tackling him trying to take him to the ground. I figured he was not telling me the truth since this is not what the principal told me he said. After a few minutes I say to him "I don't understand why you would tackle a boy because he tripped you, you were playing a game where you trip each other." He says "Nobody tripped me." And we go back and forth for awhile about what the principal says he said and his account of what happened. He was adamant that he was not tripped and that these other boys tackled him and he tackled Ben because of that.

I decided to call the principal back. Talking to her I clarify something that the paper she sent home says and then mentioned that Isaac had told me the other boys had tackled him. She says that the others boys gave the same account of the story and she repeats to me that Ben tripped him and that is why Isaac tackled Ben. Frustrated with Isaac and disappointed I say that Isaac must be lying to me. After further discussion and making threats to Isaac (that I fully intended to keep if he was in fact lying) to try to get him to just admit the truth, I remember that anytime anything like this happens the kids have to fill out an incident report in their own words and then the principal recaps at the bottom what the student says.

I call her back once more and say that he is adamant that no one tripped him and asked if I could get the paper that he wrote and she says sure she will make me a copy. Heading toward the school I remind him that I will see what he wrote and that lying to me will get him in more trouble, he doesn't change his story. I am thinking that the kid just doesn't give a crap. The principal is saying he was tripped and reacted based on that and Isaac swears that the other boys were tackling him and that is why he tackled Ben. At this point I am fully expecting to see Isaac's words stating he was tripped and got angry and he just didn't want to admit it.

I realize the gas tank is almost on empty so I stop to get gas and ask the hubby to pick up the paper. We pulled up in the driveway at the same time and lets just say that it is a VERY good thing he was the one to pick up that paper. As I stated before, this paper is a written account of what he says happened and her account of what he said to her. I was floored when nowhere did I read (because it did NOT state) that anyone had tripped Isaac, not in his words or hers. Not only did she lie to me (about him being tripped and retaliating for that) she did not acknowledge that what Isaac told me about the other boys tackling him was also what he had written in his account of the incident. She was specific that all the boys had the same story which was that Isaac got mad after being tripped. Sadly she had no idea just how persistent I would be.

This is not the first time Isaac has defended himself and has gotten into trouble without much happening to the other students. While I wish he would figure out a better way to handle himself, I don't want him to let other people hurt him and he not be able to protect himself. The last time was very concerning to me. Isaac had teased another little boy about liking a girl (typical third grade behavior) and the boy shoved him, smashed his face into the ground and then shoved grass in Isaac's mouth. That was beyond just hitting someone for teasing. After school the boy kneed him in the thigh and told him that's what he gets. Isaac went into the office asking for ice and his brother explained to the office attendant what had happened. The next day I called into the office to let the principal know what happened and it turns out Isaac was in there for retaliating against that boy.

When I got the notice home it stated that Isaac was bullying the kid, which knowing the facts I will have to argue that was not what he was doing. Now I will never fault my kids for defending themselves, but there was no imminent danger to Isaac at the time of his retaliation so for that he did get into trouble. My frustration at this point is the principal's handling of these situations and the fact that she lied to me about what really happened (which is confirmed by the statement of incident report). I just can't understand why she would make it out to seem that Isaac was the instigator when it is clear by her statement and his that he was not.

I did call the school district who will be investigating this incident and looking into making sure that there were consequences given to the other students as well as the discrepency in her account of the incident vs what is on the paper. There is no doubt that she lied to me, but I just don't understand why! She knows that he has been struggling in school and that he has referred to himself as "bad", why would she try and make it worse for him? I am just beyond frustrated!!