Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Here's The Scoop, Part II

Mere moments after I completed my post yesterday, I got a call from the school social worker.

This caused me to experience a glimmer of hope. Sadly, it was fleeting. I quickly realized she hadn't called to offer assistance, but to issue a polite, but emphatic threat.

In short, if I don't get my son back in school post haste, they will pursue legal action under the auspices of the current truancy laws.

I was calm. I really was. I know that ranting and raving rarely achieves anything positive. People don't WANT to help when you behave like a carping shrew.

So I explained the situation. She knew of course, that bullying was at issue, but she didn't know any of the details. Nor did she know that I have had past dealings with Princiapl Dragonlady and do not have any confidence in her ability to resolve this matter with objectivity, fairness, or sensitivity.

In fact, I told her quite bluntly, I feel that Principal Dragonlady is something of a bully herself. I did not expect empathy or cooperation from her. I expected to be bullied into accepting measures that are ineffective at best, counterproductive and further injurious at worst.

"So what would you do, in my position?" I asked. "Obviously, he needs to be in school. He misses his friends and he needs the structure that the classroom provides. But right now, he is thoroughly demoralized and nobody is taking that seriously. I can't put him back into that situation without knowing measures are being taken to put a stop to it. And I have absolutely no confidence that that will happen."

She said that she understood, and I think she really did. "But..." she said, "We have protocols in place to deal with these types of situations. I can't protect you from legal recourse if you don't follow those protocols. I need to know that you understand that."

Protocol schmotocol.

I understood the consequences all too well when I made the decision to keep him home.

Here's the thing you need to know if you have or you will have a child attending a public school. It's important so make note:

The people that you think are there to serve your childrens best interests? Are merely purveyors of policy. Puppets. Minions.

Policy is the foundation of all governmental administrations. And public school is no exception.

Individually, they may empathize with your situation. They may see the wrong and wish to right it. They may think that the whole situation stinks like a dirty gym sock.

But as a collective body, they don't give a hang about helping you or your child. They care about crafting policy that will cover their asses and net the quickest, easiest, and least messy solution.

For example, instead of actually addressing the bully's behavior or meeting with the bully's parents, it was suggested MY son, i.e., the victim, be moved to another classroom. Quick. Easy. No muss, no fuss. What a great solution, huh?

Except that is's completely and totally WRONG.

I call it sounbyte administration.

Whatever the situation, they can quote policy. It sounds good. It sounds very official. It sounds very much like people who actually know stuff made it up.

But here's the thing:

Children are not policies. They are people. And the things that people encounter in the scope of life experience, do not always fall neatly in line beneath a series of bullet points.

My demands were not and have not been met, because the current policy on bullying prevention and intervention dictate that my demands are not "appropriate".

Fuck appropriate. What I need is to know that someone is being held accountable for this child's behavior, that consequences are being imposed, and that the persecution STOPS, immediately.

After an entire year of demoralizing treatment, "appropriate" is being taken off the table. And "effective" is being put in it's place. Though, again, if you read the policy on bullying, my proposed course of action is not effective either. Because according to them, bullying is not a conflict that needs mediation. It's an issue of abuse that needs to be addressed with the individual.

"To make an impact bullying should be addressed at home, at school, at play and in the community. It must be a systemic effort for sustained effect. It’s everyone’s responsibility."

Okay. I can see the sense in that.


I'lll tell you why:

Because policy isn't really there to protect anyone except those who crafted it.

They can say with conviction, "Well, we have a policy in place to deal with that." And it's true. They do. It doesn't matter that it's ineffectual, or, that nobody is really interested in actually using it. It's there.

Collective asses, covered.

So where does that leave us?

I told the social worker that I wouldn't even consider sending him back until I was convinced that his mental and emotional state was stable.

I had called Diminutive One's therapist when all this first started, but she's in the midst of a court case and wasn't able to see him immediately. But yesterday, after speaking with the social worker, I left a 911 message on her voice mail, to which she prompty responded.

He saw her this morning.

As I suspected, he is in "crisis", though most likely not a danger to himself or others. She was deeply, deeply concerned about his anxiety level, and his depressed state.

"You absolutely did the right thing removing him from the situation." she said emphatically.

In my heart, I knew this. But my brain needed somebody qualified to validate that decision.

"You did the right thing."

Funny how those five simple words can have such a huge impact on a Mom.

She is preparing a report for the school, and that should keep them off my case for a while. At the very least, it gives me validation for my actions, and a platform from which to reiterate my demands.

Honestly, I wish I had followed through on my initial impulse to circumvent the school altogether and just contact the parents directly. If I had it to do over again, I would. And I will, if there's a next time.

That's my advice to you. Handle things on your own whenever possible. Because you are the only one that cares about actually effecting change for your child.

It's all up to you.

Isn't that a cheerful thought?


  • At 3:26 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    Good luck.

  • At 4:21 PM, Blogger Notes and letters to myself.... said…

    If I were in your shoes I'd be contacting an attorney.

    I'd be contacting the Superintendent.

    I'd be contacting the bullies parents.

    I'd find the schools harassment policy as I am sure there is one, in fact I'd find the entire manual and memorize it.

    You did the right thing, you do not have to put your son back in that environment.

    Now remember this -- If your son had Cancer, or AIDS, or was mentally retarded, or any other special needs and someone was picking on him in school that person would be booted out. Your son wouldn't be moved, that offender would be moved.

    Your son is no different, he's been assaulted on a day basis, and you can tell the school district if any harm comes to your son, emotional or physical not only will you hold them responsible, you are going to sue the shit out of them -- AND your next step if this isn't resolved is that you WILL go the press. And I'd make sure I had ever single solitary local news channel on speed dial and have prepared a statement.

    I hate bullies.

  • At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know... I have been considering putting my homeschooled child in the public school system.

    With my special needs child I am beginning to think that was a bad idea... to even consider it.

    I hope this will work itself out soon and I thought all along you did right by pulling him out.

    and... I'll say it again... you could homeschool him...

  • At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yea.. do what IIDLYYCKMA said..

  • At 4:45 PM, Blogger Antique Mommy said…

    What a mess. I'm so sorry. They'd have to come after me with a gun before I'd return my child to an rectified bullying situation.

  • At 5:45 PM, Blogger Laura K. said…

    Hi BA -

    My sister (sixgreenzebras) just called and told me about your situation. I've done an email to her, which she'll forward on to you.

    I don't know how long you've had your guy out of school most recently, but he's not truant until there are 10 "unexplained" absenses. One link I sent tells exactly what forms to fill out to get legal for the remainder of this school year. If you just pulled him out this week, you've likely got a few more days to get your paperwork in order.

    ((Hugs)) Feel free to get in contact with me if I can be of any help...

  • At 6:48 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    You've said it, and you're doing it. Trust your instincts and do what you feel is best for your child.

    Hang in there.

  • At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Curious Party said…

    I did some looking, and this link might be useful. Especially the section about halfway down the page "Free Pubs" which discusses court cases re: disabilities and harassment/bullying.

    Stay Fierce, mama.

  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger Tootsie said…

    Hi. I'm an avid reader of your blog and infrequent commenter. I'm also a lawyer who lives in your town. I don't practice in the area that would be of help to you, but I do know other attys who might be able to give me a reference for someone to help. If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I'll email you.

  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    WOW. All the information is SO helpful. Thank you to EVERYONE. Honestly, I am moved beyond words by how many of you want to help.

    Tootsie, that is an exeedingly kind offer. If you know someone, it certainly can't hurt to have a name. I hope it won't come to that, but you just never know.

    Again, thank you readers. Your support and kindness is what makes the blogosphere a truly great place.

  • At 8:41 PM, Blogger Tootsie said…

    I'll start checking around tomorrow. And good luck, Fierce Mama!

  • At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Tracy (t-gardens) said…

    Your son is so fortunate to have you as his cheerleader. He KNOWS someone gives a care about him, and I think that sometimes that is the difference between kids that live and kids and nooses. He will be okay because you give a damn good care about him. Keep fighting and you DID do the right thing!! (and I wouldn't hesitate to call those parents... they need to be accountable too! or god forbid, maybe they're clueless? about their son's bullying). I'm right there with IYDLM...WTFTIA, I hate bullies!

  • At 10:47 PM, Blogger said…

    I just read this and I was crying over the similarities to my own son's recent situation. The bullying hadn't gotten bad, at least not yet. But after a conference with his teacher where I left in tears, envisioning him floudering in middle school, the object of bullies' attention, I pulled him out and am now homeschooling him. It's a tough choice and a lifestyle change. But I FEARED for him to stay at public school.

    You have my love. I don't know which state you live in, or what their requirements are (I live in IL and the laws are VERY LOOSE). Can you homeschool him until you get this whole situation worked out?

  • At 11:04 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I think you did the right thing too, and am fiercely proud of you. I'm sorry to hear that he is in crisis mode ~ that has to be so scary!!

    Have you contacted the parents of the bully at all? Along the lines of taking matters into your own hands... Just curious. That may be crossing the adolescent boy line of the level of involvement he'd want his parents to have...but I wonder if it'd be effective at all?

  • At 11:23 PM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    Stay the course, fierce one.


  • At 12:43 AM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    On a day when an 11-year-old boy who had been bullied was in the news for committing suicide, I would say that you definitely did the right thing.

  • At 1:44 AM, Blogger Lise said…

    I'm sorry your family has to go through all of this. I can't believe that they're threatening truancy charges instead of solving the problem.

  • At 4:25 AM, Blogger JChevais said…

    I'm reading a book that uses Columbine as its starting point and I'm floored that 10 years later, bullying STILL isn't dealt with properly.

  • At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I went through this last year with my then 11 yr. old son... (he was being threatened with physical violence on a daily basis- he is also considered "special ed")

    The turning point for us came when I was told there were certain "channels" and "paperwork" that needed to be taken care of before my son could be moved to a different school not in his district. I stood up and put my finger in her face and assured her that there would be a hell of a lot more paperwork for her to fill out if something happened to my child because of her incompetence. The next day I had head of the special ed office at the school observing the situation and filling out the necessary "paperwork".

    This isn't the whole story (much too long) But the point is this... Keep fighting for your child. Follow your instincts. Don't let anyone tell you you are doing the wrong thing. Keep pointing out at length that your child has a right under the law to be provided with a SAFE educational environment. Let them know you have retained an attorney and are aware of yours and your son's rights. (whether you have an attorney or not do this... but I would definitely look into that if possible).

    You are doing the right thing!! Best of luck to you and your son.
    Keep us updated if you can.

    Take care.

    ~(another) Tracy~

  • At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please don't doubt for one second that this is the right way to go. You are strong and brave and you might be saving the life of your child and someone else's child. My heart goes out to you and your son.

  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I know you've said homeschooling wouldn't work for your son, so I won't try to cheerlead that too much---but I will say that I have two people close to me (one in MA, one in CA) who have pulled their 10-ish yo sons out of public schools due to bullying and ADHD or Aspergers issues. They are both trying homeschooling until they can figure out their next steps which may mean staying home or finding another school. Perhaps you could throw that word around to see what happens when you mention it.

    But, first and foremost, I'm so sorry for you and your son. No child should have to suffer that kind of treatment in a classroom and I agree that there is too much an emphasis on procedure, not the individual child. Good for you for seeing that drastic measures had to be taken.

  • At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Jane Blogs said…

    My God. I'm sitting here in tears and I just don't know what to say.

    I just keep thinking that my daughter is almost 9 and has never fit in well at school.

    And I would definitely do the same as you if things worsened for her.

    Damn protocol. You're doing exactly what any great mother should do in this situation.

    Go ahead and move heaven & earth for your angel. Even if the bureacracy won't shift, your son will know that you believe in him 100%, and that has got to make a huge difference in his self-image.

    My heart goes out to you both, and I only wish I lived closer so that I could actually help out.

  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous gurukarm (@karma_musings) said…

    BA, you are an awesome mom. I feel a bit nervous for you when you talk about contacting the bully's parents though - I'm picturing a large, not-very-bright, undoubtedly abusive, father along with an intimidated, mousy, mother; both of whom would give a flying you-know-what about your son and your concerns. Not to mention your safety.

    A lawyer. Yep, that's the ticket, I think. Get a bulldog on your side!

  • At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just came across your blog today, so (of course) take what I say with a grain of salt. I read some of your archives but I don't know your whole story.

    That said, I just wanted to encourage you to look into homeschooling some more. Specifically, the style of homeschooling called "unschooling." Unschooling is child-led learning. If you read up on it, be aware that it is *very* different, and may require a lot of soul-searching on your part.

    I pulled my daughter out of school in January and our whole family has never been happier. She is going through a (normal) period of deschooling right now, but every day I see a little more light return to her eyes.

    Good luck. You definitely did the right thing. I was terribly bullied as a child, and I wish my parents had done what you did.

    Okay, that's the end of this comment from a brand new reader/know-it-all-anonymous-commenter!

  • At 8:24 AM, Blogger Bea said…

    Your commenters here are awesome, BA. And so are you.

  • At 6:13 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    I would consider taking civil action against the principal and the school district, if I were you.

    you are doing the right thing.

  • At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm on your side, too.
    I would have to "back read" to remember where you live. I live in West TN. I have 2 daughters classified as Special Needs students by our public school system. Their "special need" is being gifted, with I.Q.'s above 140 Our public school system's solution for their "special need" is 2 hours a week in the Gifted Education class. Any work they miss from not being in the regular class room doesn't have to completed later. This really irks off some kids in the regular class room and they aren't shy about showing it. Luckily, we only had a problem when my older daughter (now in 5th grade, attending a private university prep school) was in 3rd grade. The little jerk bothering her was at least smart enough not to do it under the teacher's nose. I'm on the PTO board of the public school she attended (my 3rd grade daughter still goes there) and spend many hours a week volunteering, so I was able to "shadow" my older daughter any time she wasn't in the class room. The bully-boy was quite surprised the first time I leaned over his shoulder in the hall and told him he didn't even want to know what would happen if he said those words or touched my daughter again.
    He did stop bothering her. He is still at that school because he failed 3rd grade. Every time he sees me now, he freezes and stares at his shoes.
    My younger daughter hasn't had any problems from other kids. The school my older daughter attends now sticks to the zero tolerance policy and actually punishes or expells the bully.


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