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How to Stand Up to a Teacher or Principal Who is Bullying Your Child
What to Do If a Teacher or Principal Is Bullying Your Child
Author: Sandra Glover
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My first husband and I were building a life together when we faced an unexpected challenge. His previous relationship had resulted in a child, who joined our family at the age of eight. Unfortunately, my new son had already endured a difficult life, suffering from various forms of abuse. This left him with low self-esteem and he was lagging behind his peers.
As a mother to two toddlers and an infant, I was determined to improve his situation. I wanted to ensure that none of my children would ever experience the same pain.
Rising to the Occasion
In our school district, new students underwent placement testing to determine their academic level. Upon evaluation, we were presented with two options for my son: repeating a grade or enrolling in special classes. Unwilling to settle for either, I proposed a third alternative - allowing me to work with him intensively and reassess his progress before making a decision. The school agreed, but we faced a time constraint with only six weeks until the final assessment.
My son proved to be an extraordinary child. Once I introduced a concept to him, he grasped it with remarkable ease. With dedication and hard work, he swiftly bridged the gap from a pre-kindergarten level in math and early kindergarten level in English to amid-third-gradee level in both subjects within those six weeks. Subsequently, he underwent testing, qualifying him to join his peers in third grade.
A Disturbing Setback
Fast forward to the middle of fourth grade, and my son's grades began to slip while his restlessness in class increased. Unbeknownst to us, the school administered an IQ test and shared the results with his teachers, without notifying us of any issues or the testing itself. One day, my son returned home in tears, recounting an incident where his teacher had publicly labeled him as a "retard" in front of the entire class.
Fueled by anger and concern, I immediately contacted my then-husband, informing him of the distressing situation and my intention to visit the school the following day. Without hesitation, he supported my decision. The next morning, I accompanied my son to school after arranging childcare for my youngest children. Upon arrival, I signed him in but kept him by my side, requesting an immediate meeting with the principal, citing that my son was a victim of bullying. Although I provided no further details, the secretary sensed the urgency and conveyed the message to the principal.
While waiting for the principal, I managed to regain a semblance of composure. When he finally arrived, I allowed my son to recount the previous day's incident, including the subsequent teasing he endured. The principal's face reflected a mixture of shock, anger, and empathy as he listened intently. Despite these emotions, his voice remained calm as he engaged in a conversation with my son, assuring us that he would be a strong advocate in this matter.
Confronting the Teacher
The principal promptly summoned the teacher and obtained the testing results. During this time, I had the opportunity to review the evaluation, which merely reduced my son to a number and associated him with borderline intellectual functioning. Confused and determined to uncover the truth, I explained my son's academic progress prior to joining the school, and together with the principal, we recognized that something was amiss. Resolved to gain further clarity, I decided to arrange an independent evaluation.
When the teacher entered the room, arrogantly dismissing the need for an independent evaluation, I couldn't contain my fury any longer. My demeanor shifted from calm to assertive as I firmly expressed that her actions constituted child abuse and that she would face an investigation. I made it clear that my son would no longer be under her care and vowed to ensure that her teaching career would come to an end. I emphasized that the test results alone were insufficient to determine his capabilities, especially considering the tremendous progress he had made prior. My choice of words may have been harsh, but I refused to tolerate a teacher openly labeling a child as "retarded" in front of classmates without involving parents, counselors, or other staff in an appropriate IEP meeting.
Unbeknownst to me, the principal had taken action while I voiced my grievances. When he returned to the room, I could see that he had made necessary arrangements. He directed the teacher to return to her classroom and pack up, informing her that she would be on leave pending an investigation and the arrival of her replacement. As she left, the principal reassured me that my son could take the day off and advised me to proceed with the independent evaluation, urging me to share the results with him.
A Surprising Revelation
The evaluation affirmed the initial test's findings of a lower score suggesting borderline intellectual functioning. However, it shed light on an essential factor: boredom. It became evident that my son, being intellectually advanced, was tackling the most challenging questions first, disregarding the age-appropriate ones. He simply lacked the patience or motivation to engage with easier tasks. I discussed the results with my son, explaining that life often entails doing things we may not enjoy, but it opens doors to more enjoyable pursuits later.
As for the teacher, she faced the consequences of her actions. During the investigation, it came to light that my son was not her only victim. I had been the first to raise awareness at the school, but I also reported her behavior to child protective services. While I am uncertain about the exact outcome, our family had to make the difficult decision to relocate soon after. The damage had already been done, with rumors spreading among the students, leading to relentless bullying.
The Importance of Advocacy
If you suspect mistreatment of your child by anyone, it is crucial to step forward and address the issue head-on. I am not referring to a simple failure on an assignment but rather instances where your child comes home in tears or displays unusual behavior. Such signs often indicate underlying problems that demand attention and resolution.