Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Final Installment

I put the administrators at Aiden's school through the wringer this past week over the situation that landed his sorry butt in ISS. I don't regret fighting the fight that I fought and I would do it again were the same circumstance to come up. What happened to him was wrong and the consequence was too great, but one thing I can't deny. The principal, vice principal, and teacher carried themselves with grace and respect for my feelings.

Did I mention that I was REALLY mean and tough about the situation? I was. I probably added a few gray hairs to their heads. (Thank goodness for hair dye, right?) While I'm good at pointing out the bad, I'm also pretty dang good at acknowledging the good. I figured, if I'm going to post everything I didn't like about the situation, it's only fair to also post the good. The following will be the last you'll hear about what went on this week. It's an e-mail I sent to the superintendent of schools here, a copy of which I'll be printing off for each them to keep for their own records. They put up with a LOT of crap from me, and they've earned it.

Dr. DuB.:

My name is Aimee and my son, Aiden, is in 5th grade at TCE. We came here from a school that I dearly loved and shed tears over when we had to leave. When we were looking at houses, we toured the school and met Mrs. T. and Mr. S. Their overall demeanor and enthusiasm for what they do sold us on buying a home in this district and putting our children, 3 of whom have special needs, in that school.

This past week, my son made a stupid comment and it was hurtful to another student. In our home, if a sibling hurts another the consequence is "you are now his slave for 45 minutes" or something to that affect. Aiden's class happened to be studying slavery in school this week. During free time, my son was goofing off with some of his peers and said to another "now you're my slave" which was followed by another peer saying "no, he's my slave". Unfortuntely, Aiden happened to make this comment to a boy who was blessed with dark skin. Aiden by no means intended this to be a racial slur, but was given three days of in school suspension despite never having been in trouble in his life and being known as a kid who goes out of his way to be accepting of others, especially those with special needs. This is wrong on so many levels, but I don't want to debate that right now. (Although I would love to sit down with you and the administration sometime and work out a more age-appropriate plan of discipline for the school.)

What I want to discuss here is the way Dr. R. and Mrs. T. handled themselves. To say I gave them a run for their money would be the understatement of the century. I went in with guns blazing to fight for my son's honor and to protest the excessive punishment that was given. I pointed out their every flaw. I expressed how disappointed I was that common sense wasn't used here. I forced them to go round and round discussing the same points over and over and over again, despite knowing we would never come to an agreement on the situation. Never once did those two women lose an ounce of professionalism. Not once. They were kind, respectful, and considerate of what I was feeling and saying. When I called them on the fact that they hadn't explained to Dr. C. that they knew Aiden didn't intend his comment as a racial slur and explained that they owed him at least that much, they didn't hesitate. Dr. R. assured me that she would call Dr. C., and I followed up. Dr. R. said only the kindest of things about my son to her. This shows that she is indeed a woman of her word.

Dr. D., you have amazing people working for you at TCE. I will NEVER agree with the severity of the consequence my son was given. That is beside the point. Disciplinary plans can be worked out later and perhaps a committee can be formed to look over these situations and see what can be done to improve upon the plan.

As the mother of many special needs children, it matters to me who is in charge of their schooling. While I know the decision has already been made, I hope you will add my vote in behalf of Mrs. T. In our house, we say she reminds us of Miss Frizzle from "The Magic School Bus" series. That is a REALLY big compliment because we hold that character as the epitome of what a teacher should be. She's thoughtful of the needs of her students and their families, she's not afraid to think outside the box, and it's obvious to me now that she is able to hold her own in a very difficult situation. While it is a loss to the school to have Dr. R. leaving, I can rest assured that Mrs. T. will take the school far in her leadership role.

Additionally, I want to point out what a phenomenal teacher you have in Mr. S. My son was understandably nervous about leaving his friends and everything familiar behind to move to a new school. For the first time in Aiden's young life, his father has to travel frequently on business. Mr. S. has been THE KEY PLAYER in making this transition better for Aiden. He is a creative, hands-on, actively involved teacher who has made a lasting impression on my son so important that there is no gift or reward great enough to thank him for it. The situation that occurred this week was VERY telling of Mr. S.'s character. When I went storming into Mrs. T.'s office, he was already there and it was clear by the look in his eyes that this was as painful to him as it was to me. I dare say that Mr. S. loves each and every child in his classroom as he would his own two sons.

I don't know that there is some magic red ribbon or fancy trophy that is given to outstanding educational professionals in the School District, but if you had one to give, this group of people would certainly have won it by a landslide. Thank you for putting such an effort into your selection of educators for my children. You can pat yourself on the back for a job well done.



Hillary said...

Aimee, I have spent the past 2 days reading your blogs over my lunch breaks here at school! You have definitely made for some interesting reading!! I am so sorry you've dealt with all this but hopefully it's somewhat coming to an end. Being a teacher, I almost always take the side of the school in situations such as these, unless we are blatantly wrong. I agree with you, Aiden's punishment was far too excessive in my opinion but what's done is done. What I really appreciate and I know the admin does as well, is your final email. Even though you lost the fight so to speak, you still acknowledged the respect and admiration for the staff involved and you know that they weren't expecting that! So kudos to you for being fair and respectful. Many parents could take a leaf out of your book!!!


E.marie said...

You're awesome Aimee! Your kids are so lucky to have you as their mama!