I was suspended from work yesterday
Suspended from work, this is really scary
I was suspended from work yesterday and it all seems totally unreal. I have two part time jobs at a local primary school. My first job is as a school crossing patroller and my second job is as a lunch time supervisor. I went to my first job in the morning without any event, it was a totally normal morning. I did have a bit of a head cold but didn't want to take time off sick as its very close to the easter holiday.
I got to the lunch time job as normal, early. My first duty is to set up the tables and benches in the hall ready for the kids to have their packed lunches. I went up to the hall and started setting up as per usual.
With the tables and benches set up the rest of the lunch time staff arrived and we all were having a chat while waiting for the first students to arrive. The head and deputy head of the school came up and asked me to please come with them, they had nothing more to say until we were in the heads office.
In the heads office I was informed that a parent had made a complaint against me and that I was officially suspended from work pending investigation. Have you ever felt that the world has instantly been turned upside down, that everything is somehow very far away from you and that a cold wind is blowing through your entire body? This is the best description for how I felt and am feeling. I held myself together somehow and made it off the schools grounds before the tears hit and they keep coming back. What exactly was said? How long was the meeting? Honestly I can not tell you the answer to those questions, I think it would be safe to say I got numb pretty quick.
This is not going to be an easy thing. This is not going to be a simple case and I am pretty darned scared, angry and sad.
The words spinning in my head just now are 'gross misconduct'. This is the claim and accusation. I couldn't have told you that yesterday, the words just passed through me without meaning when I first heard them.
Today I had a meeting with my employers through the local council for my crossing patrol job. The had all the information that my mind just could not take in yesterday, specifically the words gross misconduct.
For this job, the crossing patrol job, I am on a 'garden leave'. They are going to need to talk with the human resources people and in the mean time I get this garden leave, but I don't feel like I am in any kind of garden. It is highly unlikely that I will be allowed to take a post at a different school in need of a crossing patroller, at least until the investigation is over. After the investigation is over, well, who knows?
What the heck happened anyway?
So what conduct is it that is so gross? What did I do wrong? And am I some kind of monster? The words gross misconduct definitely bring those questions to my mind.
Ok so last friday there was a student who was still eating as we (myself and a few other staff members) finished putting the tables and benches away as well as sweeping up and storing away all the bits and bobs we use.
I sat next to the girl to keep her company while my colleagues chatted. She spotted the many faded scars on my arms and asked about them. This is probably one of the hardest questions to be asked, by anyone. It is always hard because there is usually worry behind asking the question in the first place, heck I suspect they (my bosses) are worried I might off myself now!
The advice from the school in the past when kids ask about it is to try to say as little as possible, to avoid the situation when ever possible. Being asked point blank is not something you can easily avoid. Trying to answer a genuine question while trying not to say anything is bloody impossible. A clear answer that I can give in any and every situation has never been advised and I wonder if one even exists.
I may be in the wrong but I strongly believe that saying something along the lines of 'I am not allowed to talk to you about that' is totally irresponsible and creates a feeling of stigma and shame. Maybe I should have been ashamed and embarrassed, saying 'none of your business' would be much easier that way. Who cares about educating kids anyway? Just avoid anything hard! Ok I am starting to get a bit angry so I think I shall shift the focus.
Mental illness, even in recovery it's a mine field
I feel that I am being discriminated against due to a history of mental illness. I have been advised that I should seek out counseling, something must be wrong with me to want to give an honest answer to a question asked of me.
I may well want to seek out a counselor as I am hurting right now. I feel totally shattered. I keep crying and feel that cold wind blowing inside me. This is not exactly something that is easy for anyone to handle. It hurts like any betrayal hurts. My tears hide silent screams, this isn't fair! It's just not fair damn it! My heart hurts and this head ache just wont go away.
I would not seek counseling because there is something wrong with me. I would seek it because there is something wrong with this system that just seems totally messed up. Abused kids get left with their abusers, happy kids get taken into foster care and when you turn 18 it doesn't matter what has happened your on your own mate.
If you want to try to convey a message of hope to a kid who asks, you are taking a serious risk as I well know now. My advice, ignore and sidestep any problem, don't work hard as the lazy wont like it and watch the world burn, at least you wont be singled out to burn first.
I think I should wrap this up, as soon as I can I will be seeking legal advice and am not sure if I even want to work with kids again now. If I get some kind of good news or bad even, I may come along and write an update but for now I am going to leave this hub as is and hope for the best.