Losing my job..... Maybe?

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  1. kirstenblog profile image79
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    As a few of you know I work/worked at a local school, and that I have a past that included depression and self harm. I have scars on my arms and last week a student asked about them. I tried to answer in the safest way I could, its a very difficult question to answer when anyone asks let alone kids. I guess the kid went home upset and worried about becoming a teenager and the parents complained to the school that this question and my answer had harmed their child. Today I was put on suspension and escorted from the school, I probably wont know much until after the easter holiday. I also work at the school as a school crossing patroller but am employed through the council not the school and am unsure what is going to happen there, it does seem like a conflict of interest. I didn't even think to ask if it is paid suspension or unpaid, was just trying to grasp the situation if you know what I mean. It sucks, I really love that school and would like this problem to just go away but realistically I may well be looking for a new income soon.

    If anyone wants to email me I would be happy to receive your emails. I am likely to want to start looking into good sites for new writers for paid blogging posts that pay reasonably. I may well want to start calling myself a freelance writer before too long so any good sites and tips would be very welcome. It's not like the jobs I have been doing pay much (just under £600 a month with a rent just a little over that yikes) so a few blog posts a day would likely fill the gap so to speak, and hey I might get some serious hubbing done!

    Thank you guys for letting me share smile

    1. prettydarkhorse profile image57
      prettydarkhorseposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Kirsten. I hope things will be alright for you sooner, I mean the finality about whether you still have a job, and they pay you while you are suspended.  I heard sufidreamer is looking for writers, try to contact him.

      You write prety well so write more here while waiting for more options, HUGS!

      1. kirstenblog profile image79
        kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        prettydarkhorse, thank you for your kind words smile
        To be honest sufi actually was someone I thought of when thinking what to do next assuming that they decide its just easier to let me go. This did happen with another lady I used to work with at the school, one day she was just gone and we were all kinda warned that you have to be careful what you say and to whom, as all it takes is a complaint from a parent. Working with kids can be a bit of a mine field, I loved it but if things don't work out with the school I think I will peruse writing instead. I have had a few sales with amazon and believe that with enough good product hubs I could make sales more regularly and build up a residual income. Writing blog posts is also an option for the more immediate stuff like food shopping smile

        1. prettydarkhorse profile image57
          prettydarkhorseposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Go with it kirsten, and always be proud of what you have done, and yes parents can overreact at times.  I know you're a resourceful woman!

        2. salt profile image59
          saltposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          It is a mixture of both. I can understand that some would be distressed by signs of self harm. Yet you would think that the school would be asking if you had had any couselling or support.

          I know now from someone close to me that understanding things doesnt always make it easier, but then I saw someone else who was not connected to me and it was much easier to cope with, understanding ....

          I wish you love and healing.. earthing to the ground is very good when distressed, as is hugging a tree and asking it to take whatever is connecting to you. To be self harming, you must be quite upset about something and I hope you find good support.

          1. kirstenblog profile image79
            kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            The self harm is way in my past. I find how I am coping with this now as another proof of how far I have come from those dark days. The protocol and procedures are what they are but I had the feeling that if it had been appropriate to express their personal feelings they would have been hugely supportive. I do not think the head or deputy head would want to lose me but procedures are likely to prohibit them from sharing personal feelings. I will be keeping an eye on the mail for this paperwork.

    2. thisisoli profile image73
      thisisoliposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I hate the fact that you have to be so careful nowadays, it does seem a bit of an overreaction though.

      Of course since depression is now classed a certain way, if they do let you go I am pretty sure you could file a case against them, though it would be worth checking with an attourney first.

      The problem with that is that it makes finding future employment that much harder, although online writing would be fine!

    3. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      wow, i'm truly sorry to hear that happened to you though.  I hope you'll be okay.  sad

  2. Ivorwen profile image63
    Ivorwenposted 13 years ago

    I am so sorry to hear that Kirsten.    Really hope things work out for you, and that the school chooses to turn this into a teaching opportunity... I don't know what ages you are working with, if it would be appropriate.  But if children are concerned, I think they can learn.

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It really hurt at first. I think turning this into a teaching opportunity would be great, some kids out there have really bad childhoods, getting to see that that can happen and a person can survive to become happy is not a bad lesson. I do think its more then the school would be willing to take on tho sad

      BTW that is pretty much how I explained my scars, that I had had a bad childhood and had hurt a lot and wasn't it great how happy I am these days. It seems somehow the child was afraid that growing up was what had been hard and would be for everyone, including the child. I was trying to say as little as possible really as I had been advised to say as little as possible and it seems that that is exactly what caused the problem sad

  3. Ohma profile image62
    Ohmaposted 13 years ago

    Kirsten That is terrible. I am so sorry that this is happening to you. Kids can be very sensitive but a lot of times I think parents can over react to many things as well. If your trouble was in the past and has been resolved enough so that the school hired you in the first place I would think that there should not be a problem. Good luck to you.

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I sometimes think that parents are just as sensitive as their kids. I think this is a case of over reacting and know that people can lose their jobs when parents over react, not that it is hard to see why, I would be very protective of any kids including my own. I am not angry at the parents, they are very nice people, I just think the paranoia in the system is every bit a problem for kids as the real predators out there. Sometimes this seems a very sad world to me hmm

      1. rebekahELLE profile image86
        rebekahELLEposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I wish you best of luck with this one. have you tried to talk with the administration concerning the situation?

        in a school setting teachers and employees basically walk on pins and needles now because of the fear of lawsuits from parents.
        you have to really watch what you say. something I would offer to anyone working in the system is to keep your personal life out of any discussions with parents and students. it can turn around and be used against you. hmm

  4. emievil profile image67
    emievilposted 13 years ago

    So sorry to hear that Kirsten. I hope your suspension is just temporary and that you will have your job back soon.

    Reading Sufi's hubs and asking for his advice are pretty good ideas. He's writing in a freelance site. I'm also writing on another one (albeit on a much smaller scale than he is) and there are other hubbers who are doing the same. If you need help, I'll be more than happy to email the sites to you.

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      One of the first things I thought of was the resource here at HP, no need to panic over money. It's more the shock and loss of something thats more then just a job, working at a school can feel like a big family. I had loads of friends in many of the parents and had a lot of the kids come to me when ever they had a problem since I would actually listen and do something. Who knows what will happen before it happens? Thats probably the suckiest bit, not quite being sure what to expect.

      1. emievil profile image67
        emievilposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Sorry to sound ignorant but can you not appeal your suspension? Or have a parent put in a good word for you? Were you given the chance to defend yourself or did they just give you a memo and that's it?

  5. Dao Hoa profile image60
    Dao Hoaposted 13 years ago

    Sorry to hear about that Kirsten! Working in school is like walking in a minefield nowadays. Good luck.

  6. profile image0
    JeanMeriamposted 13 years ago

    Kirsten I'm sorry that happened to you. I really can't believe they have suspended you for answering a question without giving you a chance to make it up or explain yourself.

    I hope you write down exactly what you said in case there's a chance you can do something about this. Documentation is always good.

    There are a lot of paid blogging sites. My sil makes about $500 a month doing this part time. Just google paid to blog and you will find lots.

  7. kirstenblog profile image79
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    Thanks for the support guys, it means a lot to me!

    The school is going to break up for the easter holidays in 3 days so the chances are I wont be able to do much of anything until after the holiday. I was asked to go to the office with the head and deputy head where they told me about the parents complaint and that I was to be suspended, that with their policies it doesn't look good. I should be getting an official letter explaining just what the situation is with advice for how to proceed in the mail in the next few days. I am kinda fuzzy just now, was then too. Felt a bit dumbfounded, like what is going on ya know. I think the policy is to ask a person to leave with any complaints from the parents. I have had the impression you could laze off and make cell phone calls all the time and they can't fire you, if a parent complains its hard for them not to fire you. If the parents in this case were to decide they had over reacted and wanted to withdraw the complaint I imagine I could go back to work but other then that my time there is likely over. The real confusion is with the other job, through the local government instead of the school as it seems a conflict of interest for me to show up at the school twice a day for that job when a complaint has been made against me but I cannot get a clear answer on that one. My line manager is not in and the folks I could get a hold of could not advise except to say my staying home until I can speak with her is fine. I have been looking around and think it is probably paid suspension, I do want to get that verified tho hmm

  8. rebekahELLE profile image86
    rebekahELLEposted 13 years ago

    hmmm, is this a public school? if you are employed by a school district, I would try contacting the Human Resources dept. at the district and see if you can get some answers as what kind of suspension you are on and your rights.  generally, those details are in the employee handbook which sometimes is listed on the school district's web site. I feel bad for your situation and hope you can get some answers before the break. you've done nothing wrong as far as I can see. you deserve to know your rights. and don't be hesitant to ask. you can also find out more about your rights from the Dept. of Labor. google department of labor employee rights.

    good luck. smile

  9. profile image0
    Crazdwriterposted 13 years ago

    Dang Kristen! I am so sorry that this happened. And I do agree a lot of it is parents over reacting. I hope that everything works out for you and in your favor. Keep us posted!

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You are a sweet heart! I don't blame the parents and am not angry at them, good parents are likely to over react to anything regarding their kids. The amount of fear in society is what is so darned sad.

      1. profile image0
        Crazdwriterposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Yea that is very true Kristen...but I still hope that everything turns out okay...keep us posted girl!

        1. kirstenblog profile image79
          kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          I kinda hope the school calls saying the parents withdrew their complaint. That the kid in question was far more upset at the thought of loosing her favorite lunch lady! That they are sorry for over reacting and could be put it behind us. I do wonder if its maybe not impossible as I am the favorite of many kids there. Interesting thing to note, the kids with family problems and emotional problems respond to me more positively then just about anyone else there, probably because I can actually sympathize with them. Makes me dangerous I guess roll

  10. Ms Chievous profile image67
    Ms Chievousposted 13 years ago

    Kirsten So sorry! The public really has a lot to learn about mental illness.  It is an over reaction because people get scared when they hear about things they don't understand.  A lot of times they put more into it there really is.  I encourage you to get an advocate or  attorney if the matter does not clear up. From what you have presented to us there does not seem to be much cause to be fired.
    Alright.. I'll stop trying to fix things now.. 
    let us know how you are doing..

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      What you say here is so true and sadly a few of the kids at this or any school will likely face similar problems growing up no matter what. How great would it have been as a kid to have had someone say 'I was there once, I survived and you can too' but mental illness is a tricky subject, many people just can't see how prevalent it is or that you can recover from the worst of it. I would say I have recovered in every way except for my scars, they will likely always be there. It is not my nature to feel ashamed of my past and it seems that would have served me better in this situation.

      1. Ms Chievous profile image67
        Ms Chievousposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Kristen, You are right, there are some kids that will go through what you have and there is no better person to counsel them than someone who has been through it.  I am glad to hear in some of the comments that you are going to seek an attorney. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.  NAMI.com has some resources on the site if you need additional assistance.

  11. profile image0
    ryankettposted 13 years ago

    Really sorry to hear this, although I have nothing constructive to add to the subject unfortunately!

  12. gracenotes profile image90
    gracenotesposted 13 years ago

    I feel very sorry that you are going through this.

    In the U.S., which is all I know about, you have contract employees (teachers, superintendents), and you have at-will employees, like substitute teachers and crossing guards.

    I've seen the pitfalls of being an at-will employee.  Parents get upset, complain about something, and the employee is dismissed, and they tell the parents that the matter has been taken care of, and I guess that makes the parents happy and all is well.

    It just seems like the employee whose job has been put in jeopardy has very little recourse.  Like there is no opportunity to explain their side.

    I do wish for the best for you, and I hope that there is a glimmer of hope in this situation.

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I expect I will be able to say my piece at some point during these procedures. When I have the paperword and a good idea of what to expect and when I can go to citizens advice and speak with a solicitor before any hearings or whatever. They would be able to explain all my option in better detail then this paperwork I am waiting for.

  13. profile image0
    Crazdwriterposted 13 years ago

    I hope that happens too Kristen. That would be great if the parents withdrew their complaint. smile

    and Kristen about your comment about being ashamed about your past..and how it might have helped..being ashamed would never help in this situation...showing that you have made mistakes but that you have healed is what would help in this situation.

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I would think it would be a great educational opportunity for real life stuff that people face. Even for the happy emotionally well balanced kids it would be an education in that they may someday have a friend who is not happy and balanced and would know that all is not lost and that there is hope. My feelings are that by saying a person cannot talk about something like this with a kid who asks is likely to be more scary for the kid as their question will not go away but instead is left unanswered. Problem is this all sounds like work, if I was lazy and didn't want to do more then the minimum to keep from being fired and never wanted anything to do with the kids I would be fine! roll To much work to give the kids an education in emotional matters!

      1. profile image0
        EmpressFelicityposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Absolutely, and in an ideal world, everyone would realise this.

        Definitely go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau in the first instance rather than a solicitor - IME there are great people working at CABs and it's free (at least it was last time I used them).

  14. Cagsil profile image72
    Cagsilposted 13 years ago

    Hey Kirsten, I would consult a lawyer about the issue. Especially, a civil rights attorney. The parent here has over stepped their bounds.

    How you describe/answer a child's question should make a bit of difference. It is important that message you were conveying be received, so as to gain understanding.

    The parent's ignorance is being applied to the child and thus becoming a detriment to the child's ability to learn.

    It is unfortunate, but parents nowadays, many are too ignorant, for whatever reasons. There singular ignorance is rubbing off on the child and thus making it more difficult for the child to grow.

    Just my thoughts. I hope you keep your job because you like it. smile

    1. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I think I will be visiting citizens advice when I get the paperwork. Here in the UK they seem the best recourse for any kind of legal advice and help for little or free  (I actually think they are totally free but maybe they have some minimum charge hmm).
      I agree that these parents are totally naive, if you have never had to learn anything about mental illness (how lucky eh?!) then you are very unlikely to have any clue. It can be sad when your first experience is with your own child but taking action to educate yourself would be a better option imo.
      I would like to keep the job as I do think that I do good work. Those kids with family problems and emotional problems always have a friend and a message of hope that things can and do get better when they come to me. I try to do the right thing at every turn with the kids, even when its more work then shying away from problems.

  15. CMHypno profile image83
    CMHypnoposted 13 years ago

    They are going to run out of people willing to work in schools if this kind of madness isn't stopped soon.

    Sorry to hear about your problem Kirsten, but I think that you need to be a bit proactive and ask what the next steps are going to be.  Go to your school district level and speak to the HR people - you have rights and protection as well as the students.  Are you a member of a union?  If so contact your union rep and get some support from them.

    Hope it all works out for you.

    1. profile image0
      ryankettposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      This is good advice.

    2. kirstenblog profile image79
      kirstenblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Nope not a member of a union sad hmm
      Not sure which one covers me actually, not a teacher (part time support staff, non teaching) but might need to get some advice on which union would be most appropriate for my jobs (one to cover both jobs would be ideal). We don't exactly have a school district level thing here, citizens advice is my best bet (tho I am not a UK citizen they will provide legal counsel). I kinda hope it just blows over roll

      1. profile image0
        ryankettposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Dont think that you can join a union in retrospect, as why should they help you if you havent been paying into the pot?

        Personally I would await the result of your suspension, your school may have felt that they had no choice but to appear to be taking some course of action to appease the parents in question.

        They have to look at two standpoints. They don't want to leave themselves liable to compensation to either the parents of the child, which happens a lot, or you.

        I very much doubt that they would ultimately dismiss you for this particular incident, as your Local Education Authority would have to be consulted. They will have their own legal team, who will advise against possible unfair dismissal action.

        They can however suspend you at their own free will, on full pay of course. Stay strong, back your corner, and sit it out. It will be a difficult time for you whilst suspended, but you have to give the school opportunity to investigate the complaint and to (hopefully) realise the innocence of your comments. 

        If they do decide to dismiss you, and you feel that this is unfair, then the CAB will provide you with a free consultation with a solicitor specialising in employment law. They will advise as to whether or not you have a case, and you can decide whether or not to pursue it. It is generally easy to find a good solicitor on decent no-win no-fee terms when it comes to this kind of thing.

        As things stand, you dont really have anything that a solicitor can advise you on. The school is almost compelled to launch an investigation, and suspending you is protecting their own potential liabilities.

        I did say that I couldn't constructively add to this conversation, but that was until I noticed that you are from the UK. To put it simply, any organisation has the right to suspend you on full pay at any time. Being formally dismissed is another matter however. Remember that you only get one free slot at CAB, use it wisely, the school have done nothing wrong at this point in time.

        I hope that helps.

  16. kirstenblog profile image79
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    Well dinner is almost done so I am going to go eat in a min. Hubby has been a saint today, just held me when I first got home (in tears) and made me one of my favorite meals after going out to get the bits needed for it. He was really good at being here for me and I am so glad he was here. He may be in for some snuggling over the holidays wink lol

    1. ThoughtfulSpot profile image69
      ThoughtfulSpotposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Kirsten - I am so sorry you have to deal with this, but so glad you have such wonderful support at home.  What a great man you have beside you!

      I agree with the advice someone gave about writing down word for word how the conversation went.  At some point, someone is going to ask you.  And, although it will still be them taking you at your word, feeling confident that you remember precisely what was said may help.

      Definitely get some legal advice... there's way too much for any average citizen to keep track of.

      You obviously love your job, and I hope that you can keep it for that reason.  If not, then I wish you the best in wherever life leads you next.

      Sorry that I don't have any more concrete advice.  Just a {{hug}} and hopes for better times soon.  smile

  17. TheGlassSpider profile image64
    TheGlassSpiderposted 13 years ago

    Oh yuck! Kirstin it just seems so unfair! I mean, teachers are people too - and your student deserved an honest answer. Like some other people have mentioned, it seems there ought to be some kind of process, you've just got to be allowed to defend yourself. Also, if I were you, I'd frankly be upset that they haven't inquired about whether or not you had or were receiving help for the problem. Have you even been able to speak with the parent directly? What a cowardly parent! Why make a complaint to the school when they could have come to you to try to resolve the issue first! Ugh!

    I hate this for you, Kirstin, I really do. I'm sure you're a wonderful teacher. It doesn't seem right to me that you would lose your job over a parent complaint -- good god, if they did that there'd be NO teachers! But if you do (and I hope you don't) perhaps it's an opportunity rather than a negative thing.

    You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. I know you'll get through this okay!

  18. Padrino profile image61
    Padrinoposted 13 years ago

    I hope you don't take this the wrong way, you are not required to answer personal questions from children, you could have and should have said its none of your business. Having said that I disagree with the schools position on this but I understand the concerns. I hope things work out for you.

  19. kirstenblog profile image79
    kirstenblogposted 13 years ago

    Thank you for all the responses. It's pretty early in the morning here now, I woke up too early! Didn't mean to, stayed up late to avoid this but here I am anyway. In about an hour I can try calling my work liaison officer for my other job, employed directly through the council not through the school but placed there. As far as the suspension with the school goes I will be talking to the CAB as soon as I am able, they seem like a great resource for anything legal like this. I don't think there is much I will be able to do until after the easter holiday and I may go on a mini holiday to visit my MIL while she house sits for my BIL. She needs hubby to fix her computer! lol again!

    I woke up this morning and started crying straight away. I feel kinda mad actually. This situation can and likely will happen again if I stay at the school. Kids ask questions you know. They see something they don't understand and ask so as to understand. If I have to respond that I am not allowed to talk about it....... There are enough stigmas out there over mental illness without instilling more in primary school. In high school my best friend one day took me aside to show me something. Turns out she was cutting her legs (where no one would see) and I was the only person she could think of to talk to, because she knew I would understand. It seems to me very irresponsible to send the message that this is a topic that is forbidden, now allowed.

    The school is totally right to suspend me according to policy and all that junk. I am not taking it personally but I still feel angry. The problem is that they cannot give me an answer to give a kid that is actually responsible and does not deepen the stigma and lack of understanding about mental illness in society. That for all our anti-discrimination laws regarding mental illness the official route here seems to be, avoid the problem, not face it and try to work out good solutions.

    Ok I am starting to ramble too much so will stop for now, thanks again as I am swimming in these thoughts and feelings about this.

  20. Susana S profile image92
    Susana Sposted 13 years ago

    Hi Kirsten, if you want advice on the work situation and you're not a union member, then I would recommend phoning ACAS for advice. They're great - they've helped me before when I was having some issues at work. Just a thought.

  21. Ms Chievous profile image67
    Ms Chievousposted 13 years ago

    Hey Kirsten, Was just checking in to see how you are doing today!

  22. profile image0
    ryankettposted 13 years ago

    Have you heard anything Kirsten?


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