Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Update to the Mama Bear Post

I was up all night long last night until after 3am. (I see a caffeinated beverage in my immediate future for sure!) I have thought and thought about the situation regarding Aiden that I posted yesterday. I want to do the right thing. I want to be sure my motivation for fighting this is driven by appropriate reasons. Not everyone agrees with my opinion of the matter, and I'm okay with that. In fact, I value the opinion of others. It opens my mind to points of view I may otherwise not have seen.

In the end, it came down to the fact that my heart simply says this was not handled in an acceptable way and the punishment is too harsh for the crime. Let's be honest. I'm probably going to lose this battle, and that's okay. As a mom, I need my child to see me respectfully arguing in his behalf. This is a kid who takes a LOT of heat. My expectations for him are high. Very high. While the point made that he does say stupid things is valid, I would point out that most eleven year old kids speak out of turn and have their less than stellar moments. I would say most of us even as adults do.

The number one reason I need to speak up for Aiden is that it was suggested repeatedly by a woman who has never met him that he intended his comment to be a racial slur. What Aiden said was stupid, but it wasn't a racial slur. Just as someone who says to another person who mishears something "what are you Deaf?" is not intended to be making fun of my Deaf children. Aiden represents our family and our faith when he steps out of the house in the morning. When it is suggested that my child is being a racist, it is suggesting that members of our home and faith believe that is true. That is not what is taught here, and it needs to be corrected.

With all of that said, I did write an e-mail to the school administrators involved and will follow-up on it today. Here is what it said:

Dr. C (and others copied into this e-mail):

I would like to apologize for my behavior today regarding my son, Aiden. It was childish and wrong of me to call you crazy and hang up on you, and for that I am truly sorry. I will definitely be making a better effort at being more adult about this.

I think we need to further discuss Aiden's punishment. While I am able to keep my cool with administration at TCE, it is obvious that I need to work on my behavior with you, so I'd prefer to communicate with you via e-mail for now. I will speak with Mrs. T in person or on the phone tomorrow.

There are a few things I want to clarify. First, and foremost, I want to be clear that I believe Aiden has the absolute best teacher on the planet on his side. Mr. S is a shining example of what a teacher should be and he is to be commended for his stellar performance as a teacher. I don't think teachers get enough credit, and he has made a lasting impact in Aiden's life this year. He deserves to be recognized for his efforts. It is because of the fact that I KNOW that he is going to make this situation okay for Aiden that I am able to step back and breathe a little. Additionally, Dr. R and Mrs. Tt are both tremendous leaders. This situation leaves a lot of gray area, and I can imagine this was a tough call for them. I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that Mrs. T would be our new principal because I know what kind of person she is and what sort of culture she will bring to the school. She will pick up where Dr. R is leaving off and do amazing things. Both of them are clearly kind and loving women with the best interest of their students at heart.

With all of that said, I still think there are some issues that need to be resolved.
1. It was explained to me that the precedent for this incident was set with a similar situation last year. Okay. Fine. I get that. We were told that this falls under disrespect. Okay. I get that, too. What about bullying? Wouldn't that qualify as disrespect? I called and spoke with Dr. R earlier this year because my 1st grader, who is Deaf, was being bullied on the bus. In fact, after weeks of bullying, the kid finally told my son that he would "punch his face in". She was a great listener and resolved the situation in a way that I felt was acceptable. It stopped the bullying, and that's what ultimately mattered. BUT, that child was not suspended to my understanding. His mother was called, a conversation was had, and that was it to my knowledge. Maybe more went on than that. It's not my business. But I am confident that child wasn't suspended. If the precedent was set last year that all disrespectful children would be suspended for three days, the child picking on my kid should have had the same consequence. I could even stretch and say that I believe CJ was picked on because he's Deaf just as Dr. C suggested that Aiden made his comment because the boy in question has dark skin. The reason the child wasn't suspended was simple. Dr. R used common sense. It would be my hope that common sense would prevail here as well.

2. I am still really struggling with the fact that Dr. C said that Aiden intended this to be racist. She explained that his actions were worse than spitting in a teacher's eye because it was intended to be racist. I explained that I didn't believe that was the case and you insisted that it was. You were not there. You do not know my son's character. If you did, you'd know that he has a reputation for putting his neck out there to defend other children with special needs and befriending those who don't have many other friends. You would know that Aiden goes out of his way to make others feel welcome and a part of things. Please, in the future, do not presume to know the intent of a child's heart.

3. My understanding is that the main reason for this punishment is to be sure that he has really learned that what he did was not okay. I asked Mrs. T if she felt that Aiden knew what he did was wrong. She said he did. I asked if he was honest about the situation. She informed me that he was. I asked if he was compliant when being questioned about the situation. She informed me that he was. I asked if she felt he'd ever do this again. She gave me a firm NO. He knows what he did was wrong and thoughtless and stupid. Help me understand what anyone has to gain by putting these two little boys in seclusion for three days. You are costing him his part in the choir concert tomorrow night. You are also costing him two days of rehearsals for the drama club play. The rule in drama club is that missing two rehearsals means losing your part. He has worked long and hard on this play. His whole heart and soul has gone into it. This is a triple whammy. It's too much, and it's unreasonable.

4. I whole heartedly agree that Aiden needs a consequence for his actions. He took it upon himself to write a letter of apology to the boy in question. He also apologized in person. He spent the entire afternoon being questioned about this without the benefit of his father or I being there to be a part of the situation. In fact, it was a full three hours after the fact before we were contacted. He is embarrassed that it's gone this far. He was trying to be funny and instead said something really dumb at the wrong time to the wrong person. I get that. I also feel that just one day of ISS is more than enough of a consequence for what was done.

I think we're all on the same page with believing he was in the wrong. I think we all also agree that he deserved a consequence. What needs to happen now is a coming together of minds to make sure the punishment is fitting for the crime. This isn't something I can let go. This is an amazing little kid we have here. He's at an age where learning life's lessons can be tough. I fail to understand why we need to make it tougher.

Thank you for hearing me out on this. I look forward to your response, and as I said, I will speak with Mrs. T more tomorrow. I hope we can find a common ground.



Sarah said...

The school is over reacting. Last time I checked...slaves have been white too. Apparently by the schools definition...I am also a racist cause I have made my little rugrats "slaves" before.

Sorry your going through this. I'd be ticked off!

Brooke and Ryan Steed said...


Turner Girls said...

Sometimes when we take our kids to school it also feels like we are giving up our rights to them. I agree that the school is not being completely logical, well at least the administration. Good for you for sticking up for your child and what you believe. Unfortunately, these individuals are just people and may not be willing to admit they are wrong. Hopefully the whole situation will turn out for the best. Good luck!