Middle School

Updated on September 03, 2013
B.S. asks from Midland, TX
23 answers

My daughter has been attending a private school for 8 days now. I think we made a mistake and should put her back in public school but my husband wants to give it time. Public school started four days ago.
My concerns are the academics are not challenging enough, they send 2 hours of busywork home per night, and she is not making friends. In fact, two girls seem to be bullying her but the teachers don't see it that way. We went here to avoid bullying in the middle school and for her to regain her confidence and learn to get along with other kids.
She has had troubles keeping friends in the past and we have done EVERYTHING to help her. She is highly sensitive and kids see her as weak. The principal says she has to tell when it happens but kids hate a tattle tale.
We are exhausted as my husband had to have emergency surgery and requires help 24/7 right now. I know I shouldn't make any rash decisions

She saw a counselor for six months who diagnosed her with anxiety and told us kids who are GT often have trouble relating to other kids because they are like little adults. Her boss also sat in on a session and agreed. She shared about her son and we did all the things she suggested. It helped for awhile and she had friends. Sadly they are at other schools this year.

What can I do next?

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would find another counselor. O. worth he's/her salt wouldn't be so wrong on the issue of GT kids. They're not "little adults" but they CAN have social issues.

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answers from Chicago on

I''m not sure why there is this assumption that private schools have "good" kids," so there is no bullying, drugs, swearing, etc. Kids will be kids, no matter where you put them. A lot of it is developmentally appropriate, including experimenting with drugs, sex, etc.

I'm sorry your daughter is having a rough time. Might I suggest that you involve her in some extra-curricular activity where she can make friends? Where she goes to school honestly doesn't' matter much. She would have more curricular choices at the public school, so in the long run she might be better off there....but it really doesn't matter. Pick a school and stick with it. Let me say this, though. My mother wanted me to go to a private liberal arts college so that classes would have fewer students, etc. and she thought this would be a more supportive environment for me. What I found more supportive was going to a large, public state school where I could just blend into the crowd. The thought of going to a high school with small classes? Shoot me now! Girls can be so mean, and when there are fewer of them, the pressure to be "the same" is worse.

She may never "get along" great with other kids. Some of us just don't click with the rest of the world, and THAT IS OK. Just because she doesn't relate to them, this doesn't mean she doesn't get along with them. It just means she isn't where they are, and that should be OK.

I have a friend with a truly talented daughter. Her anxiety started at age 7. He moved and switched schools --sending her to a charter school that matched her interests. it helped some, but what really helped was supporting her talent and surrounding her off school hours with people like her. When she hit HS age, he then sent her to a gifted private HS out of state --the mother moved with her. She is a very talented actress and writer, so he sent her to a gifted arts school. She met lots of kids that were just like her.

So, instead of assuming the private school will have kids like your daughter, how about finding an activity or hobby where she will meet kids more like her?

I have anxious too when I have to try to relate to people that I just cannot relate to. This doesn't mean I need therapy or a "diagnosis." it just means that it is in fact hard being different. So teach her to embrace her difference, and please don't make it a "problem" that needs therapy. I'd probably work on toughing her up and helping her to better handle channeling her sensitivity, but beyond that, help her see her difference as a good thing!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

What is going on that she is already being "bullied" after only 8 days there? If she's hyper-sensitive in nature, it's possible she will perceive she is being "bullied" no matter where she is.

I think you should put her back in counseling. In counseling she can learn coping methods to help her not be as sensitive and also to help her make friends.

Developing coping skills isn't about being in a situation that is easy. It's about learning to cope no matter what situation you are in. The fix for this is not to move her around everytime things get rough. That will teach her to run from problems. Instead, she needs to learn how to make a friend, get her homework accomplished and get some self-confidence.

Also- what is the homework that it's "busy work"? If she's GT (I assume you mean gifted/talented by the description) she should be able to get through the homework quickly.

On a side note - Gifted kids tend to be socially immature. Because gifted usually means "unbalanced" in their skills and usually they are academically advanced, but lack social maturity. It may be wiser to help her build her social skills (sensitivity / friend making) and instill a love of learning, but not focus too much on the homework aspect.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Oh sweet mother of pearl, I have never seen three, is it three, kind of looks like three, paragraphs of it is everyone else's fault before. All excuses.

I have raised, am raising four kids that can probably run circles around your daughter and they are as odd as I am. Pretty sure your daughter comes off as odd too. Thing is, unlike you, I don't blame others for not understanding why my kids are odd. I taught my kids that they are odd and there is nothing wrong with it, they are good kids. Good kids who happen to be a bit different than others so I taught them how other people see them.

Purely logical really, if you understand that how you are being treated is based not on hating the person but misunderstanding the person it doesn't hurt as much. It also allows for communication, an ability to explain, I didn't mean that I meant this, I am sorry for my part in the misunderstanding.

This process has allowed my children to be normal happy kids. My older daughter ended up being the most popular girl in her high school because of the heightened empathy it produces.

By the way, that older daughter and my older son, private schools all the way, younger two public, the older two had an easier time of it so private school are actually better for these kids.

If you haven't noticed I will point it out, nowhere in there have I referred to my children as gifted. This is also part of the lesson, yes, you are probably going to be more intelligent than your peers but always remember they can run circles around you in other areas, like social skills, learn from them. See all kids are gifted in one area or another, there is nothing special about that area being intelligence, that just makes the learning easier.

Oh, and the principal is right, no one likes the tattle tale so teach her how to find the words and work things out. She will find it makes it easier to keep friends.

Sorry I am not being easy on you but I lived this life, and it wasn't easy, and the changes I made when raising my kids made their experience better.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It sounds like you're doing a lot of things I tend to do, honestly -- second-guessing your decisions, foreseeing all kinds of trouble down the road.

So -- if I'm right at all about this -- I get where you're coming from, sister ;). And what I'm going to tell you is what I tell myself.

B., it sounds like you're being very quick to "call a crisis." It's been 8 days, she's not making friends, therefore you need to get her outa there, stat. (I'm exaggerating a bit for the sake of making a point -- I know that's not exactly what you're saying.)

The trouble is, when you do that, your bright, highly sensitive daughter will pick up on it. Any effort that she might have directed toward making new friends, toward surviving a bumpy transition, will instead get focused on an exit strategy.

And, even if the public school WOULD have been better, the message you're going to send if you pull her out now is, "You poor, fragile flower. If you're not happy where you are, that's intolerable. The world must step in and save you, every single time." Not an attitude you want her growing up with, right?

So, my advice to you is to survey the landscape at her current school and find one or two good allies. I would start by trying to contact the school counselor, but really, it could be anybody. There are kids whose lives are saved by lunch ladies. And whoever your ally is, give them the situation. "'Tess' is very bright, but she has a hard time making new friends. In the past, she's been an easy mark for bullies. Can you help us find her natural friendship group? We're looking for the sweet nerd-girls, not the cool crowd. Is there an after-school club, or something like that, where kids like this tend to congregate."

And then, just keep bolstering your daughter's confidence. "A new school is hard. Especially in junior high. But you're doing fantastically. You're handling it much better than most kids do. Wow, I'm really, really impressed."

Finally, homework IS busywork. It's not even education, in the classic sense. It's what prepares us to pay our bills, do our taxes, look at our mortgage and credit card statements, clean the bathroom, get the oil changed, all the endless busywork of adult life. Your daughter needs to know that those rules apply to her too.

Good luck, and sorry this was long,


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Daughter A was attending public school, doing well, and we moved her to a Montessori school because her younger sister Daughter B was doing poorly and was in danger of being held back. Daughter A did terrible in the unstructured environment of Montessori, but we kept her there for 2 years. Daughter B did well. After 2 years we moved Daughter A to a Catholic school. Unfortunately it was an under-performing school and, while Daughter A did well, the bar was very low. Last year we moved to an area with exceptional public schools and both daughters are now in public schools. They had a lot of catch up to do because the previous private school's were not nearly as good as their current public school.

What I learned is that a private school is not necessarily better than a public. In both of the private school's we attended it was hard for my daughters' to make friends and fit in because the school's were smaller and the student's weren't necessarily interested in opening themselves to new friends. It took Daughter A a good 2 years to make friends. We moved Daughter B over to the Catholic school a year after Daughter A and she made almost no friends her first year at the school. Again, there were maybe 10 girls in her class and it was hard to break in. Both of them have made friends easily at the new public school because there are many more kids.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Mira is right. I quick pulled my DD out of a school in 8th grade because, really she had a "last straw" breakdown. Though she was really was not at the right school for her, our decision to move her abruptly was not without consequences. In the beginning, she was thrilled. But at the end of 8th grade, and another, much worse crisis at the new school, she was screaming to move on again, to a new school district. More than one counselor and therapist have agreed that to move her again would be a big mistake. A temporary fix. We will not move her this time. She needs to work on the issues within herself that continue to cause her relationship and school problems. Or she will never stop running. Yes it is hard. Yes she probably has burned some bridges with some people, but she will survive. Already, she has grown more confident as she learns new coping skills. Just know there are sometimes long term consequences for a short term fix. My DD also has significant anxiety, so I empathize with your struggle. I would really pour your energy into supporting her work on herself, in counseling, and not into a quick school switch. Public, private, or charter, it doesn't matter. You're going to find bullies, and nice kids, in ALL schools. Hang in there.

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answers from Miami on

ETA - Mira, what a wonderful post! Well said and spot on!

It sounds like your daughter needs some counseling. She lied about homework and the principal could see through her and called her on it. Normally, a child would learn from the mistake and not do it again. Your daughter seems to have trouble "taking her medicine" and moving past it in a healthy way, which means focusing on doing the RIGHT thing. Instead, she makes herself the victim. You will be doing her NO favors by coddling her. Instead, talk to a child psychologist yourself first, and then bring her in. Don't sugar coat your daughter's behavior. It's not just about being anxious. It's about not accepting responsibility.

I hope you will do this. She needs someone to work with her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Not yet. Your husband is right. You're don't want to make big decisions when you're in a down cycle.

School has just started. Your daughter would be stressed no matter what. Almost every child is, and junior high school is a particular stress time.

Does your daughter have a favorite teacher yet? Would she be willing to make an appointment with that teacher to ask her more about this new school and the people in it? (This would be an appointment between her and the teacher - you're not there.)

What your daughter needs is friends, and that takes time. However, any day of the year, not just at the beginning of school, the way to get friends is to be friendly. Most other kids won't or can't make the first move - she has to do it herself. The easiest way is to find some school activities - music, drama, etc. - that she likes, or would like to try out. It's a way to have fun and get to know other kids as well.

Another thing for her to think about is that every child in that school is sensitive in one way or another. Every one of them has secret fears. Every one wears an invisible sign around his/her neck that says, "I want to feel important." If she can use her own sensitivity to be aware of them and help them feel important, even just by saying hello, she'll be gaining confidence without even realizing it, because she'll be stepping outside herself. I know this from personal experience.

Oh, and have your girl do the homework that's assigned, without being critical about it. After a month, she can talk to someone about being able to do something more challenging.

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answers from Denver on

It's only been 8 days! Relax! Nobody makes new friends that quickly, and you shouldn't expect it of your daughter either. I think switching her right now would be a rash, and not-thought-out decision.
Let her be. If you've been told she will have trouble relating to other kids, don't expect private school to be the magic fix for that. What you CAN control is the pool of fish you throw her into. What you can't control is how vicious the fish are. Control the pool.

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answers from Denver on

You are going through a lot, and are justifiably worried about your daughter, I know you only want her to be happy. I worry that your anxiety is making you rush to judgment and rash decisions. Keep her where she is. I think this is a great way to teach her to get through problems and not just run from them.

For the friend issue, find out who she likes and encourage some social activities with those girls. You can help facilitate that.

For the bullies, keep asking her about it, and make any teachers aware of the problems. If you know which girls are doing it and when they have class with your daughter, the teacher can be on the lookout. They are sensitive to the tattle-tale issue (doesn't hurt to mention it to them). Schedule some time with the teachers, and ask them to watch out for her. But also, ask if they notice anything that your daughter does that may need some attention. They can provide insight about why she might be targeted that could be helpful to you. This also lets them know that you are not just making excuses for her, you are willing to work with any of her issues.

Get her back in counseling to work on her confidence and social skills. And role play some bully situations with her so she can be prepared to stand up for herself.

If you can decide that she will be proud of herself for working these problems out and help support her in finding ways to do so- that may include her changing some of her behaviors, you will do wonders for her confidence.

Again, you are being a good mom and looking out for your girl, just take a deep breath and know that you can all work this out. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think you are too quick to want to move her vs working through a problem. I suspect that both you and your DD might do well to learn to work through things vs running at the first sign of something not entirely as expected. As far as the academics, it's the first weeks of school. They're probably doing a lot of review at this time. My DD complained that they are not yet teaching her Spanish in Spanish class. Um, she needs to learn a few things in English first!

And there is ALWAYS home enrichment. I was in GT in a public school. And it was challenging. And I still took opportunities to learn more at home where I needed or wanted to. The other thing you need to do, IMO, is realize that GT doesn't mean "gifted in everything". I stank at math. STANK. So while I could do Reading and History in my sleep, I struggled through math. Does it mean I wasn't smart? That I was in the wrong school? No. It meant I was a normal person with normal challenges. I bet she is more "normal" than she thinks.

I would also understand that she might like to hang out with older kids, but also don't make her think she CAN'T find peers to associate with. She might not like some of her classmates. I have never liked all my coworkers. But to be a productive person, you have to learn to deal with people who are both less smart and MORE smart than you are. People who you like and people you hate. People who annoy you and people who are your friends.

If you need to, go back to therapy with her, but I wouldn't give up on this school. She is new. She needs time. And if there are problems with two girls, then she needs to speak up. To the teacher, to the school counselor. And in therapy, so she learns how to stand up for herself.

My DD is also a sensitive soul. And maybe she will only have a best friend or two at any given time. Introverted, sensitive people don't need a posse. Let her find that likeminded kid or two. Encourage her to join a club where those kids will be.

And remember, MS is hard for friendships, no matter if you've been there forever or not. So don't feed into every reaction and or "she's not friends with me anymore", etc. Tween girls are insane. Don't go insane with them.

You have a lot on your plate and I think that once things settle down, you will feel better. Don't make decisions like this in a crisis.

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answers from Washington DC on

I wouldn't move her...it sounds like its more about her and less about the school. Are there any extra-curricular activities? Any other activities outside of school? Are there other GT kids?

I do a lot of volunteering and the GT kids do seem like fish out of water with some of their non GT kids. But they seem to do well with other kids who are GT. Is your dd in a GT program?

Do you know why the other kids are picking on her? Is it something she's doing or are they commenting on appearance?

If you do move her, get her into a specifically designated GT program

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answers from San Francisco on

If your husband wants to give it time, then you have to give it time. I might agree with you, but I'm not your husband.

I disagree that kids "hate a tattle tale." I've worked in middle school, a lot, and middle schoolers often openly tattle on each other.

I recall, with amusement, asking a group of kids one time who did something, and like 8 of them vigorously pointed to and called out the name of the kid who did it. A kid should NEVER accept bullying and suffer in silence. Your daughter should boldly go up to the nearest authority figure and loudly tell him/her that so-and-so did this to me. When she is tough, they won't pick on her.

The best thing you can do for your daughter is to role-play assertive behavior with her. You need to actually act it out with her, and give her the words to use to interact with these kids, and have her practice it out loud.

Bullies ONLY pick on kids who let them do it. A kid can be a complete nerd, but if s/he has confidence the other kids won't pick on him/her.

Role-play responses to the bullies.

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answers from New York on

Thinking it is not the school. The term bullied gets thrown around a lot lately. Geez, it is part of school life. Who does not like who', so they pick,on one etc etc. your daughter sounds like she needs to be back in counseling. Changing schools will not change her. It has only been eight days. I think everyone on this board can relate when starting a new job.
I know I always hated a new job the first week or so. Have to find your place, make new friends and then you realize it is a great job.

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answers from New York on

(You edited/changed your question, so I will edit my answer....)

I'm trying to understand what the problem is here.

In your last post, different thread, you expressed concern that your daughter had too much homework. In your first version of this question, you mentioned that one day recently your daughter cried because "the principal yelled at her because she did not do all of her homework". Now, in this version, you say she has 2 hours of "busywork" each night.

Is "busywork" what your daughter thinks, or what you think?

Just guessing here - your daughter chose to not do her homework because she decided that it was unimportant. And she got in trouble. And that made her sad.

Yes, that is what can happen at these very tough, small class / high level of attention on each student, private schools, WHICH IS WHY you should speak to the principal/teachers about the homework situation so that they can properly address your concerns (as many of the responses on your homework post advised).

As for bullying - that happens at every middle school. It's not okay, but, I'm not sure that's a reason to change schools, unless the situation is extreme. If your daughter learned tips on making friends from therapy, those tips were not supposed to be a one-time thing ("she made friends but now they are at other schools"), she should work at applying those methods to any situation (including her current school).

It sounds like this school may be "too tough", in one way or another, for your daughter. Is there something else, something I'm missing?

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answers from Santa Fe on

I went to a private school for all of elementary school. I was academically ahead of the others. I remember I could finish ALL my work for the day in the first few hours and then the rest of the day I was bored. I look back on that and think, wow, why did my mom pay for this expensive school that didn't even challenge me academically or do something different with me so that I was actually learning more. I think it's too soon to make a decision. I also think you need to work on helping your daughter gain confidence in life. What is she really good at? Sign her up for some special classes and encourage her in that. Maybe do something with her that builds confidence like rock climbing classes. I am not sure what to suggest...if she were older I would say what about trying an Outward Bound course? Do they have something like this for middle schoolers? Are there some really amazing clubs or groups she can join where you live....something associated with a museum or art center? Help her blossom in talent with something she enjoys. Maybe she will meet new kids through other venues. I was a smart kid who did not really fit in all through school. I went to a very academic, small university with high standards and there I finally met others who were like me...and really came out of my shell!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Are there really two hours of homework a night? I would talk to the teacher. If that is really right - I would run as fast as I could from that school. When exactly is she supposed to play outside/be active, read and be a kid? I think nothing could discourage a love of learning more than 2 hours a day of busy work.

My son is also in GT in his school and has no trouble relating to other kids. I would not use the fact that she is bright as a crutch. If she is bullied, she needs to loudly tell the kid to stop and then immediately tell an authority figure. All schools now are supposed to have an active anti-bullying program. Find out what your school's is.

Eight days is a short time to expect her to make a lot of new friends - especially if most of the kids already know each other. It takes time.

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answers from Las Vegas on

In terms of academics, I can empathize. My son goes to a private and he is ahead of most kids in his class (it's been this way for several grades now) Sadly, they cater the class towards those who are on par or below. Therefore, it's not too challenging for anyone who might be more academically advanced. I plan on talking to the teacher/principal to see what/if we can do something for the kids who need more of a challenge. Additionally, we have another friend who sends their child to an outside source apart from school so that the child can be challenged. This is something I may have to consider (and you might too)

As for the bullying.... My son, although not bullied perse in that the "teasing" wasn't too out of control, but there was one older kid who kept at my son and called him names.. Finally, after about a month, I had it nipped in the bud.. Meaning, "I" was the one who talked to the principal.. my thought being, I pay all this money for my son's education... HE has a right to feel safe and comfortable in school.... I was particularly annoyed that the person doing the teasing was an older child.... and although it was just name-calling... The older kid wasn't doing it to someone his own age, instead was taking advantage of my son being in two grades below him. I mean c'mon.. what a coward.. picks on a little kid. After I "tattled" :) on him.. the kid laid off of my son...........
you may have to speak up...oh and my son isn't overly sensitive.. I just tend to be the type to want to stop the BS before it gets out of control..

good luck

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answers from Beaumont on

I am sorry for your struggles. We put our own daughter in private school (Catholic School)for many of the reasons you stated and sorry to say she had a horrible experience with bullying from the other girls. Other kids do fine there, but like you said they picked up on the fact that our daughter was sensitive and were relentless.
She will have to learn to make friends and deal somewhere but I would give it two weeks tops and then move her if things do not get better. They even would bully or ostrasize any other kid that dared to try to be nice to our daughter and kept her completely isolated. It caused her extreme anxiety.
Where does she say she wants to go?

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answers from Washington DC on

You already know that you should not be making a decision right now. You, yourself, note that your family has a medical crisis going on, and your child has only just begun this school.

Please get your child back with a new counselor or therapist right now. And get yourself some counseling too -- it will help your child if YOU are better able to cope with the many issues your family is facing, both hers and your husband's. Don't rely just on a school counselor for her (though they can be great, as you know) but I'd get her someone she can talk with regularly who is not affiliated with school and who is experienced with girls her age.

Eight days into the school year is too soon to decide. The bus incident may have been a one-off thing (though I'd be sure to know who those girls are and to keep an eye on them--more on that in a moment). The homework that is "busywork" could be the teachers' attempts to have kids review things before the real new material begins. I agree with others who posted that two hours a night seems like a lot -- probe whether this is because there really is two full hours' worth of work or because perhaps your daughter is struggling with doing it, maybe due to stress.

One thing you can do to alleviate your fears and in turn to alleviate HER fears is to be as involved at school as possible. Join the PTA but also be active in it. In middle school parents are not needed or wanted to be in classrooms etc. but there are other ways to get plugged in and involved. Being involved means you will meet other parents who can fill you in on things (like whether there really is a bullying issue or not) and it means teachers will know who you are and who your child is. It really can help both you and her to feel more confident if you can become a known parent at the school for the right reasons.

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answers from St. Louis on

Hi B.,
I know it is as hard for you as it is for your daughter; however things are not always easy; life is not easy, and there are times when we have to teach our kids that the world do not revolve around them, and they have to develop a hard core. I am all for kindness, encouragement and positive thinking, but I still believe that we have to teach our kids that things are not always the way they want it and we cannot change everything to make them feel better with themselves. In your situation, I would let her stay in the school she is right now, and would teach her how to deal with different situations; do not insist in creating a world that do not exist or making things easier for her, she will fail in high school, she will fail in college, she will fail in her job tomorrow. First you need to calm down, and then talk to her, tell her what it is going to happen from now on and what it is expected from her, guide her, but do not do things for her; teach her that there are people in this world we like and we don't like and we have to deal with those. Supplement her school work if you think she is not challenged enough (reading at home, math books to practice, material is everywhere), find together some sports or activities she really enjoys, this will help her to focus on other things more productive.
There is something very important you should also consider: try to be on the same page as your husband; parenting differences may affect very much kids' behavior, at least do not show your daughter you parent differently, communicate and talk to your husband and agree on things.
I home school my 3 kids and they are not sheltered kids (home educated for academic reasons), they know life is tough and when they do not like something they have to deal with it, get up early to study, study late if they didn't manage their time, adjust to other kids they like or not in the neighborhood or home school group; they follow my rules (like them or not) and meet my (our) expectations, and still they know I (we) love them, with all my (our) heart.
I wish you the best,

A. :)

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answers from Washington DC on

Bullying happens at all types of schools. If you had legitimate concerns about bullying at the public school, don't send her there! Work with the current school to curb the bullying. Document as much as you can. Remember, they are legally obligated to protect your child.
Maybe, you'd like to look into home schooling. Some kids with anxiety can't handle the school environment until they are better. It's only been our first week, but four girls at my school have already had panic attacks.

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