Letter To My Son's School Principal - cc.Teachers - School board
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Dear Mr. ******,
I am writing to address my verbal outburst on Monday, February
When I was dropping off my son at the office, after serving an out of school suspension, and was preparing to leave, the secretary took one look at him and ordered him to, “sit down over there...” and said to me “you have to stay.” She then proceeded to inform anyone within earshot of the office, “If he hasn’t finished his homework, he can’t stay.” Not only was this embarrassing to my son, something, it appears, that was not considered, as was the possibility that I might have an appointment to attend, it was disrespectful and downright rude.
I went outside to collect myself, and she sent the counselor out to ensure that I would return. We were joined by yourself and my son’s teacher, at which time I lost my temper.
On Monday afternoon, you called to inform me that my son would be staying home Tuesday, and I quote, “we’ll try again on Wednesday.” We arrived Wednesday morning to a less than cordial reception. After politely asking the secretary if we should wait, we were informed, again within earshot of anyone in the vicinity of the office, and again reciting contents of a letter addressed to me, “He is suspended...he shouldn’t even be here!”
When I mentioned that you had told me to bring my son on Wednesday, you refused to comment, or provide an explanation to my repeated query as to the discrepancy in the return date between our telephone conversation at 2:09 on Monday, and the letter given to my son at 2:45 on that same day. I accept responsibility for not completely reading the suspension letter, as I presumed it mirrored what I had been told. However, after reading the opening sentence that states, “I am writing to confirm our recent discussion,” I am forced to ask, to which discussion you are referring.
The secretary then accused my son of probably not giving me the letter in the first place. This not only cast aspersions on his character and honesty, it further embarrassed us in the presence of others. I can understand my son having to face the consequences of his inaction, but what I can’t understand, and will not condone, is why he needs to be humiliated and embarrassed in front of not only his peers, but adults who do not need to hear information of this nature that does not concern them.
When asked for necessary copies of my son’s I.E.P's from grade 3, up to, and including his present plan, the secretary again voiced her reluctance at having to assist us. Not only were we treated to a brusque demeanor, displeased looks, and poor manners, my son and I have had to endure this additional mortification in the presence of other students and adults. This type of reaction and dislike only serves to reinforce a negative attitude and unnatural trepidation in my son towards school.
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I understand, better than anyone, that my son’s behaviour impacts everyone he comes into contact with, but I do not feel it necessary to subject him to this public display of displeasure on your behalf. My son and I both experience this type of discrimination daily from the outside world; we do not expect or accept it from the professionals attempting to help with his behaviour modification, and education.
As your office is concerned that I may be experiencing difficulties handling my son’s behaviour at home, to the point, I might add, that you elected to call Child Services on my behalf, why would you knowingly compound it by issuing another 5-day out of school suspension.
It is no wonder that after enduring suspension after suspension, being subjected to an ongoing unnecessarily rude and judgmental attitude, on top of dealing with a disability that my son is continually punished for, from both society, and it appears, your office, I snapped. My resulting behaviour on Monday reflects the level of frustration regarding assistance and tolerance of my son by your office.
Since my son’s acceptance at grade 3, with the exhibition of worse behaviour and attendance record than he is showing now, this school strove to help him become productive, and the resulting A’s and B’s on his grade 3 and 4 report cards and his increased attendance reflected that dedication. The only out of school suspensions that were issued incorporated pro-d days, so that my son did not lose any class time.
After the implementation of changes with senior staff, and my son’s TA, out of school suspensions were reinstated, and his behaviour has once again begun to spiral, with his grades dropping to barely passing and now, F’s across the board. The fact that he does not have one-on-one assistance also plays a large part in his lack of success. It is evident that the policies employed by your predecessor resulted in far more success with my son's academic and behavioural achievements than those implemented under your administration.
I have followed every recommendation and abided by every decision your office has issued, including a more active role in helping with his education, to the increasing detriment of my son’s and my relationship. I have suggested that his former TA be reinstated to assist him, in the hopes that he might respond with a more positive attitude, as his past records indicate this to be possible. I have also asked to have the out of school suspensions limited, but my requests have been refused, citing the responsibility and lack of resources within the school board as the reason.
I would like to point out that the nature of his disability is ADHD/ODD, which means Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. My experience handling my son’s disability is not limited to my 12 years of dedication to him, and includes parenting classes, Psychiatric assessments, Psychologist counselling, ADHD course, Paediatric assessments, and extensive research. I have consulted with an ADHD psychologist and been told my knowledge is a great or exceeds his. I have written a book on ADHD/ODD, with my experience vindicated and echoed by International ADHD psychologists and authors. My article entitled Thunderstorms and Rainbows, a Mother’s Perspective on Living with ADHD/ODD" was published in Volume 6, Issue 1 of the, 2008 edition of Synergy Magazine. In addition, I have created and maintain, a website to provide support to other parents of similarly disabled children, advising them of the latest research materials, and helping them navigate the bureaucratic jungle of regulations imposed by governmental agencies, educators and medical professionals in their attempts to seek solutions for themselves and their children in dealing with these disabilities. If you so desire I am prepared to supply you with names and credentials of persons who have assisted me with my ongoing endeavours, and can provide you with reference materials and publications to understand and deal with this disability.
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As you have, to date, dismissed any comments I may have offered to redress my son's behaviour, perhaps you may be more receptive to those put forth by prominent psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in this field. I quote, Russell A. Barkley, PhD., from his book Taking Charge of ADHD, The complete authoritative guide for parents, New York: Guilford Press (revised 2000.) “...children without self-control are viewed either as not wanting to control themselves (they are “bad seeds”) or as not having learned to control themselves (they are viewed as simply “undisciplined” by their parents). Science is showing us that there are neurological (brain) factors that contribute to self-control and willpower, along with learning and upbringing. And when these brain systems are functioning improperly or become damaged, normal levels of self-control and willpower are impossible.”
school (usually from one to three days) is sometimes used as punishment for
severe behaviour problems, but it should be used with much caution. Many
children may find staying at home or full-day daycare more enjoyable than being
With an estimated 5 – 8% in the U.S. (This doesn’t include Canada, or the rest of the world,) of children suffering from one or more or all of these disabilities, which numbers are rising every year, it is imperative that educators begin to seek effective and progressive alternatives to address the difficulties presented by these children.
My son’s suspensions for “...his ongoing defiance,” do not serve to control, modify, or improve his behaviour, and being told on more than one occasion “...we won’t tolerate this type of behaviour,” resulting from the very core of my son’s disability, I find it hard to accept your explanation that you are trying to help.
I am meeting with the Learning Disability Association of Canada, with the hope of a possible solution to my ongoing concern of educating my son. Considering my level of involvement, participation with, and dedication to my son’s education and well being, you can comprehend the depth of my anger, disappointment, and loss of faith regarding the way we have been treated. Just as I am held accountable for my son’s behaviour, so are you accountable for your office and staff. I am only one parent, voicing my concerns; I wonder how many other parents of similarly challenged children have also been confronted with your apparent reluctance to deal with these issues in a positive manner.
If you are unwilling or unable to become part of the solution, then, regrettably, you become part of the problem.
cc: Classroom Teacher
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