Bottom of the Barrel Teacher--Complain?

Updated on February 10, 2011
E.M. asks from Boulder, CO
15 answers

So my daughter goes to a public preschool (for free because she has an IEP for ADHD). I was told that there would be an occupational therapist in the room, a child psychologist, a speech therapist etc. There is a "Lead" teacher and two aides so since there is usually one specialist in the room every day, that is four adults to like 12 kids. Pretty good. When we accepted the spot in the class last spring, we met the Lead Teacher. She was wonderful--also had a young daughter with ADHD--seemed really great. Well, we she left over the summer and we got a new Lead Teacher, sight unseen. I thought, no big deal, I am sure she'll be great.

Well, since school started in late August, I have been so dismayed and disappointed in the teacher, the system and the school. BUT, after talking to parents who had the last teacher and are now in the class with new teacher, I am pretty convinced the problem is the new teacher. The teacher is SO unprofessional. She whines and complains to the aides, the parents etc. constantly about everything about how she isn't feeling well, about her commute, about her other job etc etc etc. Poor Me. Poor Me. Poor. She has been "out sick" between 7 and 8 days this year--not in a row like a major illness, but once or twice a moth at least. If you are even a few minutes late to pick up your child, she is visibly unhappy and makes a point to complain in front of other parents about "how child A's parents are late" and how inconvenient it is for her etc. etc. There is no feedback about my child's progress, strengths or weaknesses, challenges or daily achievments. We have had one "parent meeting" this year which was in January and lasted 20 minutes. None of the specialists were present, just this teacher and it started late but ended right on time, if you know what I mean. This woman is about to "Staff out" my daughter from special ed--which is great but I don't trust her opinion at all because she seems so disconnected from the kids and the parents both. There is no parent involvement asked for or encouraged--in fact, it seems like she runs the classroom like a convenience store--everything is done at her convenience and that means your kid is dropped off when the doors open, picked up and good-bye that's it. When I asked her about getting my daughter a temporary bus pass during my c-section/hernia surgery recovery, she said she would try but made sure to let me know how much paperwork it would be for her.

I don't know the names or have a relationship with any of the specialists--nor have I ever been offered a chance to meet with them or get a progress report--do I need to ask for one? I guess I just assumed it would be part of the deal. I don't even know if they work with her at all one on one or not or if they just help the kids sort of like zone defense as opposed to man to man.

Do I say something to her superiors? I don't know if it is just a matter of our styles being very different or if I have a legitimate complaint. I was talking to a mom with an autistic child in the class and she considers this year a "waste" for her son with this new teacher, as they had the old teacher for two years previously. She is not planning on complaining-just getting him out of there as he will be in kindergarten next year, as will my daughter, and in a different school, thank goodness.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I have an appointment to talk to the principal next week. I really do not want to go in and bash this woman so I am going to be as diplomatic as possible but unfortunately, if there anything good to say about this woman, I can honestly say I have not seen evidence of it first hand. She is helping me get the temporary bus pass which is nice of her--and surprisingly, the front office has nothing to do with it since the only preschoolers who ride the bus do not have transportation of their own (state funded tuition kids) or have a physical disability. So it is a big deal for them to make an exception for me (so annoying) even though I really will be unable to drag my five year old, two year old and newborn down two long halls after three surgeries.

Yesterday, her first day being back after two sick days, when I was leaving she said to my two year old "Have good nap, Kate, I wish I was joining you," in a whiney voice. Great, I am leaving my special needs 5 year old with a lead teacher who just told us all she'd rather be napping. Super professional. And I realize, just because she is whiney and unprofessional in front of the parents, doesn't mean she isn't good with the kids behind closed doors. But I really have no idea.

I've decided that me sitting down with her one on one is not the best way to handle this--though I don't doubt that some could handle it very gracefully! I think it is best when people hear criticism or complaints from a neutral or second party because I am probably the only one saying anything (the majority of the other parents do not speak English very well at all which is why their kids are in the preschool and are also state funded so their kids take the bus and I have never even seen them at the school). I don't want my kid treated differently because her mother isn't "happy" and it would be awkward to drop her off and pick her up every day after that. I don't feel like it is my place to sit down with the teacher and tell her she isn't conducting herself like a professional or that she is just really falling short and doing the minimum. Neither or those things are against the's just really disappointing to have to send your kid in to her classroom every day. I expect more. But I have also realized, this is probably the first of many teachers that I will not be crazy about--I will love some and not like others as well--personality differences and styles aside, I do have expectations that I will be sure are being met for the sake of my kids.

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answers from Norfolk on

I'm a teacher. COMPLAIN! Chances are her superiors have no idea because no one ever says anything. Everyone things someone else has said something. Unfortunately, there are bad teachers out there that don't belong in the classroom but no one will ever know unless you tell. Definitely tell someone!

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answers from Washington DC on

Oh yes, I'd say something right away. You have plenty of stuff to say about her. To me you have several legitimate complaints. You may not only just help your own child by saying something, but many other children. The administration NEEDS to know about the teachers.

I live all the way on the other side of the country, but the three schools my children have been to, two public, one private... have ALL encouraged volunteering at the school. Is this something you can do, or something the school does? Even just once or twice. You really get to know the teachers when you are actually there in the classroom helping. If you can, I highly recommend it. It would give you a much better idea about the teacher(s).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Of course you should say something. No offense, but one of the pet peeves that I have is that everyone wants to complain but nobody wants to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!! Seriously, If I had a nickel for everyone like you who tells me how upset they are about something going on within the school or district and when I tell them who to talk to about it-do they? NO!!!! I then do not feel sorry for them. And this is precisely why THINGS NEVER CHANGE!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You are your child advocate! Remenber that - you are the one that has to make sure they are doing right by her! If this teacher is not working for you it is ok to sit down and voice your concerns! Make sure you do it in a way that is professional and out of concern for your child.

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answers from Erie on

You have legitimate concerns. You aren't getting regular updates on her progress so you don't know if she is meeting her goals. Although it is not common for aides and specialists to be present at a parent-teacher conference, it is not unreasonable to ask for a meeting with the entire team. Go to the office staff with help with the bus pass. Write a letter to the teacher requesting the meeting (email is best, then you have a record of any conversation) and cc the principal. By law they have to accommodate you. Bring her original IEP with you to the meeting and make them go down the list of goals, explaining to you how her needs are being met to reach these goals. Question the entire staff about any specific accommodations that are in her IEP. Bring a list of written questions/concerns, and prepare to take notes while you are there.

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answers from Honolulu on

Yes say something. This is unacceptable. Unprofessional.

In my daughter's school, per a child who has in IEP/in-school Aide etc., they do communicate with the parents or meet with them regularly and get a progress report etc.
Since you are NOT getting one nor any or this, you NEED to speak up and ask for it and tell them.

It may not be the 'school' that is at fault, but just an unlucky draw of the coin and who you got as a 'lead teacher' and school Aides.
My Daughter goes to public school, and at her school and per Moms I know whose child does have an IEP/treatment team/Aides/Psychologist etc., they have not seen this happen.

Again, to me this is a problem of the new Lead Teacher. Not the school per say. That Teacher seems real unstable.

Just speak up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

You need to speak to someone about this. My son has developmental delays, speech delay, ODD, etc. He too was put in a public preK on a recommendation and it was horrible! The teacher + aides were unprofessional, whiny, etc. I was noticing that my son was withdrawing at home, regressing with his speech therapist etc. but the day he came home, jumped off the bus, knocked his 3 yo brother on the ground and started hitting his head on the pavement screaming he hated school is the day we yanked him out.

I had seen so many odd things but other parents told me I was being silly about it and I didn't step forward as I should have, when I should have and I really regret it. At this school, there was no accountability for volunteers, supervision was lax, etc. The teacher was very unprofessional. What teacher comes to school in flipflops, ratty sweats and tank top? If the superiors that you talk to don't take your seriously, I would remove your daughter from the school. You also need to demand a meeting with all of the specialists that work with your daughter. It's your right to do so and they should have been present at your progress meeting. It's also your right to ask for a meeting to check on your daughter any time of the year, not just when it's convenient to the teacher. This is her JOB.

The incident I related happened several years ago with my son. Right after that I instituted quarterly meetings with his support staff. Everyone that was able to, teachers, speech therapists, special ed teachers, service coordinator, psr worker, etc. attended. I love these meetings because it gives me a chance to see right up front what everyone is doing with my son and it gives everyone else a chance to see what each other is working on with him and even coordinate a bit. For instance, my son has two speech therapists. He sees on in school and one outside of school. He's been with outside-of-school one for over 5 years and I consider her the main therapist. Booth speech therapists are coordinated because of this meeting so they don't work cross-ways to each other and both are seeing more progress with him.

When you have a special needs child, no matter what their need is, it is very important to be sure her support network has a firm foundation. If it's not, then you really need to re-evaluate and find her another one. I have seen the huge difference that makes in my son.

The secretary of the school he went to K at hated me because I insisted that she follow my sons IEP and place him in the p.m. class like it stated. She had tried to tell me it was full and that he had to be in the a.m. She was not happy with me when I reminded that the school HAD to follow the IEP and she made it very clear to me that it wasn't fair to the families of the TWO students she had to drop from the class to make room for a special needs child. If she had done her work properly in the first place, it wouldn't have happened. I'm his only advocate besides his support network, so if I hadn't stepped forward and made sure he got the best available then who was going to?

Also, the teacher shouldn't be trying to remove her from the special ed class, especially without a meeting of your daughters support staff. When is your next IEP scheduled? Has she met/exceeded the goals on her IEP showing her being ready to no longer have the need of special ed? I'm a little suspect of that. It's great if she is ready to move out of special ed, but don't push it and certainly don't agree to it without a meeting. Especially if it's not time for her next IEP yet!

Good luck with getting this resolved.


answers from San Francisco on

Hi Mama
Please write down all your issues and make an appointment to complain to her superiors. At this meeting also state that you are unhappy at the lack of feedback from the specialists that work with your daughter and request a progress report.
As you know early intervention is vital for your daughter.
I work in the caring profession,currently with adults with autism and the one thing that I can't stand is an unprofessional care worker.
I have very regular contact with parents either through face to face contact,by phone and email. We have a formal meeting every three months to discuss progress to date and a plan for the next three months.
Your daughter deserves better than this. You are her voice for now, you need to stand up and say something.
By doing this you are also helping all the other children in the class plus the future children.
Be brave,stand up and complain.
Best of luck



answers from Kansas City on

Yes, complain! You still have a few more months of school and your daughter needs to be in a better environment. You probably won't get a new teacher, but the one she has needs to "shape-up".

Also, your IEP is a legally binding document. If the document says your daughter needs 30 minutes of physical therapy a week, the school is legally required to do it. Also, if it is a public school, you should have access to the classroom (open door policy?). I would request a formal IEP meeting (you are legally allowed to do so and they have like 10 school days to meet your request). At that meeting you need to request the teacher, any specialists that the IEP states your daughter received services from, and a principal/asst. principal.

This is your daughter's education and you're setting the foundation for the next 13+ years of school. Get in there and shake things up!!!!

Good Luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I definitely think you need to meet with the principal or a superior at the school. I would suggest to make a list of your concerns and then another list of all the events that you've noticed happening (like the snide comments, sarcastic comments, etc) - and if you're able to, include specific dates that they occurred on. I don't want to say they would think you're just complaining but it doesn't seem like this teacher is doing anything good so they may be overwhelmed with the complaint.
Are there a lot of other kids in her class? Could you possibly hold a voluntary meeting for the other parents to get together for an open forum on the issues you're noticing?
If there are a lot of other parents with the same complaints it may make it MUCH easier to approach the principal as a group instead of just you by yourself.
I can definitely understand your apprehension with this teacher all of a sudden wanting to remove your daughter from the special ed classes. While it would be great for her to graduate to more mainstream education, if she really isn't ready for that it may harm her more than anything.
I wish you nothing but the best of luck with this.
Please let us know what the outcome is!




answers from Kansas City on

This sounds like a good reason to do your own preschooling. Often times, parents can do it way better anyways.



answers from Erie on

I started reading this thinking it was just another "poor me my precious baby isn't getting the attention i think she deserves" post, but you really have some legitimate concerns. And i really appreciate how clearly you laid them out. You have specific issues and i'm sure you could come up with specific actions to correct them.

I would start with the parent teacher communication. that you would like another conference at your convenience that addresses all of your concerns about your child's progress, what does the teacher expect your child to be able to do at this point in the year, what can you do at home to help your child meet these goals, What is the next step if these goals are met and what woudl it be if htey are not. I would firmly request that all the therapists be present, or if that isn't possible, request for you to meet with them separately, or at the very very least get a written update from them.

I woudln't address the teachers unprofessionalism until you have done this and met with her. try to leave her lovely (sarcasm)personality out of it and just see if she can offer you proof that she at least knows her teachign stuff. I'm wondering what qualifications she has or training to work with a sepcial needs child.

Then if you are still thinking something is wrong, meet with her supervisor and bring up the absences, the snide comments, the lack of communication etc. Best case her superiors talk to her and she shapes up, worse case they fire her and bring in someone new half way throught the year.

good luck and don't be afraid to express your displeasure in a mature way.



answers from Atlanta on

You should definitely raise your concerns to the administration. She doesn't sound like her contract needs to be renewed. Also, you should be meeting with your child's IEP team (and that includes her teacher) on a fairly regular basis. Even if the IEP doesn't mandate that, special needs kids' families should be sitting down with the teacher more than once a year.



answers from Springfield on

Have you tried talking to the teacher about your concerns? You said you had 1 parent/teacher conference. What did you ask her? You might be suprised how well people respond when they are made aware of the fact that they are not meeting your expectations.

If you don't know the names of the specialists or how to contact them, ask.

It seems as though people are very quick to write letters to principals and administrators without even voicing their concerns about the teacher to the teacher. As a teacher, I'd much rather have someone talk to me about an issue they are having then tell my boss I'm incompetant.


answers from Modesto on

You probably should say something, she wont learn to "skill up" if the parents dont make a beef and she doesnt get a reprimand.

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