October 25, 2010,
N.O. asks from Fiskeville, RI on September 25, 2010
Kindergarten Teacher Pushing, Talks Rude to My Child Crying, Throwing up in Fear
Hello everyone =) I'm in need of some advice on how I should handle a situation that my five year old is having at school.. My son is very laid back, does his own thing, very friendly however in school he doesn't like to follow rules and says he hates his teacher. He is my only child, and he never actually went to pre-k or daycare so being in kindergarten (even though its two and a half hours) is very different for him.
So it all happened about a week ago when I received a phone call that my son was acting up in the bus line and was sitting on the ground, rolling around and wouldn't be quiet. So all weekend my husband and myself went over the bus line rules with him, everyday before school we did the same thing. So no phone calls we thought everything was okay. I get a phone call at 3:00 saying that my son just threw up and they didn't want to have to put him on the bus. So I ran down there, I got to the nurses office and my son was shaking and crying (I thought he was picked on or something in that nature) so the nurse says the teacher wants to talk to me.. She comes in and sits next to my son, I am across from them she starts to tell me that he had pushed a girl in the bus line the day before because she wasn't getting on the bus.. She then said that he dumped his juice box on the floor as well that day and when she yelled at him he started to throw up. My son later told me when he threw up she yelled at him again saying "Bad Ayden, Your a bad boy you don't throw up on the floor!" (as if he could help it when he's getting screamed at) So then she is explaining to him how he shouldn't push people and asked if he would like to get pushed (he was sitting on the nurse bed with the back part lifted up) and she pushed him so he feel over onto the side of the chair!!!! My mouth dropped I didn't even know what to say! Then she asked if he would like it if she pushed me and he started to get mad. So he was crying hysterical (when she pushed him) and he "flicked" a tear from under his glasses and she get's in his face and says "we don't flick our tears!" in a stern voice.. By the time I got my kid home both of us were so worked up. I sat him on the couch and was trying to explain to my husband what happened I grabbed my son to help him on the couch and he started to freak out crying and started to throw up everywhere.. This continued all night! Kindergarten is the foundation of our children's future and she's really putting a damper on his.. We kept him out of school on friday since he was still very upset. Now we are waiting for his teacher and the principle to call back for a meeting.. There is no other kindergarten teachers in that school and honestly I don't want him to be in her class it hasn't even been a month and she's tramatizing him! If any of you were in my situation what would you do? How would you go about handling this? Would you try to transfer schools?
Thank you for any reply in advance!!!
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E.A. answers from New York on September 25, 2010
I'm so sorry he is having such an awful first experience at school. It sounds like that teacher shouldn't be teaching at all, anywhere, that is absolutely abusive behavior. If the principal doesn't help, get him out of there. If you can't transfer schools, maybe just take him out and send him to a gentle pre-k somewhere else for this year so he can see that school can be a good place. I think in most stated kindergarten isn't mandatory, so if things went well at a preschool for the year he could just go into 1st grade next year. I hope the meeting goes well, let us know what happens.
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A.M. answers from Hartford on September 27, 2010
Wow... that teacher should be fired. I would pull my son out of that school today! The way she was talking to him and treating him is abusive!
S.G. answers from Savannah on September 26, 2010
You are a bigger person than me cause I would have pushed that teacher right off her butt after she pushed my child like that!!!
Have the meeting with the school and if they don't change, pull him out and place him some place else. You might not be the only parent that has had a problem with this teacher's behavior and this could be her last chance and she will no longer have a job! If you don't get any satisfaction from the talk with the principle and teacher, go file a complaint with the school board.
J.M. answers from Boston on September 26, 2010
I didn't read allthe posts, so I'm sorry if this is a repeat. I think some good advice is this: the school promises to believe half of the stuff they hear about home, if you promise to believe half of the stuff you hear about school. I have no doubt that your son was honestly very upset by the events at school the other day; I do have a hard time believing the situation was exactly as he described it.
I think you should take some time to figure out how you can talk to the teacher and principle rationally to come up with a plan to get your son comfortable at school. You're talking about a huge transition fro
being home all the time to being in a quasi-academic environment. I would not pull him out of school or ask to change classes at this point; instead try to figure out how you can be a team with the teacher, rather than an adversary.
I don't mean to sound harsh or uncaring, because I'm sure that I would be a mess if my kid came home as upset as yours. But as a teacher, I've been on the other end of outraged parent phone calls because the parent had only hear the kids version of events. Honestly, there's been a lit of embarrased apologizing to me because they come, guns blazing, accusing me of things that simply weren't 100 percent true. If they had called wondering what the heck is going on and how can we all make it work, the conversation is much more productive.
Best of luck.
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E.M. answers from Denver on September 25, 2010
I think, after all that has happened, it would very hard to take your son back to that class and feel good about it. I would have the meeting (as a formal documentations of your complaints-it may happen again with another student) and transfer to a new school. The teacher sounds like she got the job by mistake and was really meant to be a bill collector or something.
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L.A. answers from Austin on September 25, 2010
You did the right thing by requesting a meeting with the Principal and the teacher.
If this is a private school you decide if you want to pull your child out and be refunded your money for tuition. If so make a written request with the below information.. If they refuse, see an Attorney, but still move your child.
Is this a public school? If so this what I would do.
Before you go, write out every incident you have been told about and the dates you were contacted.. Then also write out what happened just like you listed here.. Make 4 copies and cc them to the Teacher, the Principal and the Superintendent of schools. Include your name, your address and your contact information..
Then go to the meeting with these pages and give a copy to the teacher the Principal and tell them the one for the Superintendent will be sent once you get home and have typed up the minutes from this meeting and then mail it or drop it off at the Superintendents office.
There is no reason for your son to have been treated this way and they really crossed the line with the teacher still bullying him in front of you.
I am so sorry this happened. Try to be strong for your son. You need to be his advocate. He needs to know you can handle this. If your son ends up in therapy, I would suggest you document and keep all receipts in case a legal case ends up happening..
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S.B. answers from Redding on September 26, 2010
Definitely document everything so you can report it to the superintendent of the school. Have a meeting first thing with the teacher and the principal, then schedule a meeting with the superintendent. You have a right to ask what is going to be done about this.
I would transfer your son to a different school, but not before this entire incident is reported.
I wouldn't take your son out of school all together though. That's just me. It sounds like he might benefit from a pre-k for the rest of the year. That way he has a chance to learn the good things about school from someone who is more experienced with properly dealing with children who've never been in a school setting before.
My son's kindergarten teacher was very firm and very structured. She tolerated zero monkey business, BUT she was very loving. He's in high school now and he still says she's the best teacher he ever had.
I wonder if there's some way you can find out if she's had complaints filed against her before?
I certainly hope you get something worked out and you can find a way for your son to learn to like school. I think a different teaching environment is your best bet.
Let us know what happens.
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J.H. answers from Yakima on October 04, 2010
I have four children, the youngest is in middle school now, and we have lived in 9 different school districts throughout the USA...and we have seen some interesting stuff happening through the years - not usually our children involved though.
First of all, this teacher should not be left alone in a classroom with children. I would call the police and explain to them what you witnessed, and allow your child to also tell his story to them (they will bring in other officials if necessary).
Secondly, it might help if you decided (one of you parents) to be a classroom volunteer (there should be no limits on how much time you spend in the classroom - this is YOUR school, the teacher is a hired employee who can be fired). That way you can watch how she is treating ALL the students in the classroom and perhaps she is being a bully to only your child, but it could be that she treats all the kids that way. You need to get to know the parents of all the other students (invite them over and talk - but keep an open mind and don't get mad if they point out things your child is doing), and if they are also complaining about the teacher then demand to go to the school superintendent all together - and do NOT allow them to only visit with you one on one (because they will try to convince you that no one else is having this problem).
However, if your child is not denying that he is acting this way, it could have a good deal to do with your parenting. He obviously knows what to do to get attention, and when he doesn't like something he seems to feel free to act out (pushing someone else). Throwing up can come from being stressed out because you got caught in your bad behavior too. So, the whole picture needs to be looked at. You say your son is 'laid back', but is it because he always gets what he wants at home so has no need to act out? Also, when the teacher pushed him in front of you - what was your response? Mine would have been to call 911 immediately and take my child to a safe location. But, you allowed her to keep traumatizing him!
If you know behavior is not okay (with ANY adult) it is your duty as a parent to protect your child. If none of the above advise gets you anywhere then yes, I would transfer schools but I would also demand that your child's file be expunged of any negative stuff before it is sent to the new school - or you could have a problem at the new school too.
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C.C. answers from Fresno on September 25, 2010
This woman teaches KINDERGARTEN? Wow. It sounds like she's an awful person, and it's especially horrible that she is teaching the youngest children. Your post brought back some vivid memories of my first grade teacher. She was a horrible woman who hated children. I remember being terrified of her. When she passed away (when I was in 8th grade), I remember being relieved - isn't that awful? But that's how horrible she was. To this day, 30 years later, I still remember being yelled at by that awful woman, and I remember watching her grab my friend by the ear, yanking her out of the chair and ripping her earring out of her ear in the process. To this day, it feels like I saw it yesterday. My mom feels so badly because she never knew how awful this teacher was - she said she'd have taken me out of the class immediately if she had known. I can't believe I never said anything to my parents!
So anyhow, the point is, you DO know how awful this woman is. She's the wrong teacher for any child, but more importantly she's the wrong teacher for your son. Go have a meeting with the principal and file a formal complaint, and then ask for a transfer to another school. Your son should have happy memories of Kindergarten, not be set up for failure in his first school experience. He shouldn't be so stressed out that he's throwing up all night. That just breaks my heart. You have to get him out of there. Don't make him spend one more day in this teacher's classroom!
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R.M. answers from Topeka on September 26, 2010
When I first started reading your question my thoughts were "oh dear, she is misinterpretting what happened because her son is not able to keep his feelings about the situation seperated from the facts of the situation" BUT then I read what the teacher did in your presence and my entire attitude changed!!!
You have taken the right first steps...removing your child from the situation and setting up a meeting with the principal and the teacher. Since this is the only "choice" you have as far as a teacher in that school, I would seriously consider changing your son to another school...or as one of the other Mom's suggested ....consider a pre-K program to help your child get better acclimated to the school atmosphere after this bad start that is not in any way his fault.
At the meeting, you and your husband need to work as a team...one of you do the majority of the talking and the other one take detailed notes of what is being discussed. I would then write a letter to the Superintendant, detailing what your child told you happened before you arrived at school, what happened in your presence in the nurses office and then the details of the meeting that you have. There is no reason for this type of behavior to be allowed to continue...kindergarten lays the groundwork for the rest of the childs school experience and it sounds to me like this teacher does NOT need to be the one laying that foundation!!!
Good luck to you and to your little one
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D.B. answers from Boston on September 27, 2010
I think Laurie has given you some excellent advice. The key is to document everything - dates, words, actions and witnesses (e.g. the nurse). Make your reporting as EMOTIONLESS as you can. Just the facts! For example, do not say "I don't approve of how she treated my son." Say "Mrs. X put her right hand on Joey and pushed him sideways into the back of the bench. Nurse Y witnessed this incident." Then factually say that "Joey wiped a tear from beneath his eye and Mrs. X moved to within 8 inches of his face and said...." Have your husband read it over, and also a trusted friend - make sure it is solidly proofread for errors in grammar or spelling as this will help your case. Sign it first, then make copies. This information goes to the principal as well as the superintendent of schools. Whether you give it to the teacher or not is your choice - the principal will certainly share it with her. You want to make sure that the principal and superintendent receive it FIRST.
Document what your child said about being told not to throw up.
I'm pretty sure it's illegal for teachers to forcibly touch a child that way. Guiding a child into line or onto a bus is one thing. Touching a child or restraining him to prevent physical danger is acceptable - for example, a kid taking a swing at another on the playground. But in a controlled situation like the nurse's office? Uh uh.
The only thing your child is lacking is experience in a school setting. The other children who have attended preschool already know some skills about lining up, sitting in a circle, listening to the teacher, etc. If your child is the only one with no experience and he's in a room of 18 or 20, it can be overwhelming. The other kids are doing things instinctively at this point but it's completely foreign to your child.
You also should be extremely open to the fact that 5 year olds don't always tell things exactly as they happened. They embellish, they misinterpret, their fear colors their explanations. You MUST allow for the possibility that a) your son was not in control at the school to start with, and 2) he might not have told you the story exactly right. This might not be an intentional lie - it might just be his perception in the middle of being extremely upset. However, all this throwing up is clearly indicative of a stressful situation - once a kid is throwing up, NO ONE should be telling him not do or saying "We don't throw up on the floor." But make sure that's exactly what was said - and it's not just his perception that throwing up is a bad thing and therefore the teacher must have been angry about it.
I would absolutely pursue this situation with the school administration. If you are not completely satisfied with the superintendent's response to you and whatever action steps she plans to take, you need to give your documentation to the police. They may not have enough to go on, but they will have it on file. Do not threaten to press charges against the teacher to her face, and do not threaten it as a way to get the administration to do something. Also, personnel matters are confidential so do not expect the superintendent to tell you if there have been previous complaints, or to tell you what has been said to the teacher. You CAN ask what the policies and procedures are in cases like this. Don't be intimidated if they say this has never happened before. They have to have procedures in place long before there is an incident.
I would also look at some short term therapy for your child so that he can process this incident and realize that not all teachers and not all school situations are the same. Otherwise, what happens the next time?? Start with your pediatrician and then see about a referral. Your pedi should be advised of this excessive vomiting anyway - maybe start with a phone call and see if the pedi wants you to come in.
You could consider putting him in a pre-k class that is smaller and in a different location entirely. He might do better in a class of, say, 12 kids than in a class of 22 (or whatever the size is of his current class). Going there by car with you and not dealing with a bus, but still starting in a classroom experience, might be beneficial. Home-schooling has been suggested, but frankly, this issue is not about academics - it's about socialization, being in a group, dealing with structure and authority, etc.
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