When the School is the Bully

The marks above the lip are kool aid, the brown marks below are bruises.

This is a photo of my son’s chin.  The dark marks under his mouth are bruises.  He received these while sitting in his school office trying to catch up on missing schoolwork.

 The reason he was sitting in the office to catch up the schoolwork was because there was some question that he wasn’t actually recieving schoolwork from a few of his teachers but being given failed grades regardless.

He won’t say how the bruises happened.  All we know is that they happened while he was in the school’s office.  He came home from school that day and wouldn’t eat for the next two days.  He hardly spoke… until I told him that I wasn’t sending him back to school.  Then he cheered right up and became his normal chatty self.  He still won’t say how the bruises happened, but they look like someone squeezed his chin hard.  He says he hit his face on a desk outside the principal’s office.  He won’t make eye contact when he says this.

At the same time he received these bruises he suddenly developed a fear and dread of one of the faculty members.  He said he wanted to go back to school but not if he had to face this one woman.  Thinking I was being a responsible parent I had a conference with the principal of the school and was promised for the school’s protection and my son’s the woman in question wouldn’t be near him.  He went back to school and we thought the whole ordeal was over.

Then he received an in school suspension because “he decided to sit there and stare off into nowhere even after repeated redirection” (from the teacher’s email).  Staring is now a suspension offence?  When I asked my son what happened he said he was reading the assignment directions, but whether he was reading or staring isn’t the point.  When did kids start having to sit in the office for a day for staring?

During this suspension my son started sending me panicked texts.  Trying to be the responsible parent that supports their school I told him he had to serve the suspension, but I would email the principal.  The panicked texts continued that morning and then a light bulb clicked on in my head.  If he was up in the office was the woman in question around him again?  I asked, and his answer was “Yes!  In the cubbys plz pick me up”

I went to pick him up.  The woman in question came out herself and told me how my son had refused to do any work for her that morning and I wasn’t to think he could get out of the suspension just because I picked him up.  He’d serve the rest tomorrow.  Shocked and confused, I went home and asked the principal via email why she oversaw his punishment.

The principal sent me a long email back explaining that this woman hadn’t had anything to do with my son as had been promised.  I told him that she had come out herself and told me the situation and asked for an explanation.  The principal never answered back.

Now the situation has escalated to the district level.  My son can’t go to school anymore because his only choice is the school in question.  He is suffering and being ostracized.  Why is this allowed to continue?

I wish I could say that his story is unique, but it isn’t.  I have other stories from other parents who have had similar situations at this same school with this same woman.  I have documented all the emails and inconsistencies with photographs and notes.  I am collecting these stories and information and have been trying to decide what to do with it.

My little boy has had enough trauma this year already.  He lost his father last Christmas, feared for his life and now is bruised and unable to return to his school and friends.  In speaking with a district level official this morning I was offered that my son could go to the school for juvenile delinquents instead.  “Only a few of the kids there are really bad.” he told me*.

I agree, a large majority of them are probably in the same situation as my son – kids that have learned from the school that you are in trouble no matter what and that “staring” gets you a day of suspension from the wrong teacher.  Regardless, I’ve decided to homeschool my son rather than let him go to “The Academy”.

Apparently returning to his own school won’t be an option.  As the same district official told me this morning with a friendly smile, “In all honesty Ms. M— will still be working there next year.  I don’t see her going anywhere.”

Sounds like bullying to me.  Perhaps this time it’s the school that needs some discipline.

* My note:  Personally I don’t agree that any children can be labeled as “bad”.  They are all works in progress and some are being pushed in a negative direction.  I thought that was a general view among educators.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine with author husband Ryan Aussie Smith. For more information visit SpaceandTime.net
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8 Responses to When the School is the Bully

  1. Pirahna says:

    After reading your article, it brings back flashbacks from when I was in Elementary and had a third grade teacher that bullied her students. But this is abuse, this goes further than bullying if he is coming home with bruises. And, if the district will not do anything in regards to the matter you might want to start talking to a lawyer and seeing what your options are.

    A side note to my former teacher…after years of abusing her students a bunch of parents rallied together and she got fired from teaching. Gather enough evidence, gather enough support and actions can be taken.


    • I am seeing a lawyer on Monday. I don’t have any proof that she caused the bruises unless my son says what happened. I do think his sudden fear of her that developed at the same time as the bruises was enough cause for me to ask that my child not be left with her. I’m still shocked that the principal wouldn’t honor that, would lie about it after and that she would flaunt the fact that she had him in suspension. Big red flags here!

      I’m glad you’re own teacher story found justice. I think we’ve all experienced unprofessional and mean spirited teachers. Fortunately they are the minority. As adults, we are often the only voice a child might have. It’s up to us to make sure our schools are safe and just for all students.

  2. Cassie says:

    I don’t even know how to respond to this. I would be absolutely LIVID. We’ve had our share of problems with Clayton’s ADHD, but he has NEVER come home from school with bruises or been terrified of anyone like this. I think you are handling it very well so far, and I am so very sorry that you both are having to go through such a difficult and, frankly, unfair situation. (((HUGS)))

    • I agree Cassie. I’ve wanted to give the school every possible benefit of the doubt and I think I have been more than fair. They need to reap what they have sown. I’m collecting and bringing out stories from other kids that have had issues with this school. It’s surreal some of the stuff I’ve heard.

  3. I would be furious. If someone at the school hurt your child then this needs to be discovered quickly and corrected so that they don’t hurt anyone else.

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