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I went into the school unannounced and sat there until someone would see me. I spoke to the asst. principal first, who listened attentively but offered little in the way of help. The principal walked in during that conversation and immediately launched into attack mode.

He was arrogant, condescending, defensive and accusatory. Once again, this was all somehow my fault and I was raising my child to be a victim.

I asked about zero tolerance in relation to the episode last week when S. choked a classmate. I was told that did not fall under the zero tolerance guidelines or the school's code of something or other. Apparently, a kid who draws about choking another kid will get suspended; a kid who really chokes someone won't.

We went back and forth for about twenty minutes and I am ashamed to say I did not handle it well. He put me on the defensive and I lost all the momentum I gained talking to the assistant. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and - of course - I started crying (mostly out of frustration), and when he once again implied that it was me who needed to rectify the situation, I said "I can see where this is going," and stormed out the office, crying and fuming. I hate, hate that I did that.

The secretary called about five minutes after I walked into work and said the principal wanted me to know he was meeting with the teacher at 2pm. Big deal. The teacher is at the end of his rope, as well, and can't understand why this kid hasn't been put in a behavior mod class yet.

Oh, that's right. Miss assitant informed me that they don't have behavior mod classes anymore. I guess it's not P.C.

So that's where we are at. I'm sitting here fuming, upset and bewildered and wondering what my next step is. Most likely, it will be calling a few people I know on the school board.

Thank jeebus it's Friday.

[Also, as I work in the legal system, I have several people I can ask to help me draft a very heavily worded letter to the school district. I may not even have to hire an attorney]

Update: I took the link to the school down. Sorry. I think being antagonizing in this situation is only going to make things worse for DJ.


He's protecting his job.You're protecting your son.Time to get the lawyers on his ass.

Michele -

Hang in there. You and DJ are in my thoughts today ... Keep us posted!

Don't hesitate to use the local press on this issue as well. Bullying is getting more attention today.

Hang in there, DJ and Michele!

Keep strong, hon.
And now you know person-to-person isn't your best mode - use the best tools you have. In this case, that would be lawyers to write nasty letters to the school. Also, since you write like a kung-fu master, try writing an article for submission to the local rag, or at least to the editorials or letter-to-the-editors.

Michele, I'm so sorry to hear that things didn't go well with the admins. I must confess that I sort of expected they would react the way they did. Educational admin types are the same everywhere, be that middle school 15 years ago my college's Dean of Students just a mere four years in the past. Assholes, every one of 'em.

I wouldn't beat yourself up over crying in front of the principal. You have been placed in a situation where by acting like and adult, by respecting the school's chain of command and existing structures for reporting this sort of thing, you have hit a brick wall. You are entirely in the right, they entirely in the wrong, and you can't win. Out of frustration, people tend to either weep or try to kill someone.

Be gald you are counted among the former.

It's time to get unconventional. Some have said that hiring a lawyer to intimidate the school might not work, since the district and teachers union probably have excellent attorneys, but it's worth a shot. Perhaps siccing a lawyer on the little twerp's parents might get them to take notice.

Also, Mepham is right nearby and still fresh in people's minds, right? I'm sure the school district would hate to be the subject of a weepy human-interest story on the local news. I can see it now, "Tonight, we take a look at a local school, where a parent claims that repeated attempts to stop rampant bullying of her child have had no results, due to an uncaring and inept school administration."

Music to the ears, no?

Forget what I just said. Bill has got a great idea. Contact the local newspaper, and see what their guidelines are for submitting letters to the editor, or even writing an opinion piece. Perhaps you could even get one of the reporters interested in writing a story on DJ's troubles.

A lot of young reporters at local papers are 20-somethings straight out of college, who are champing at the bit for a great story to write. What's better than the tale of a working mom struggling against an uncaring and inhuman school administration, that would rather blame the poor victim than work to remedy the situation.

If you can successfully tug on the bleeding-heart liberal heartstrings of your average newspaper reporter, someone will write a story on your troubles. You just need a little publicity to light a fire under the collective behinds at the damn school.

You tried to play nice "guy". Time to pull out the heavy artillary.

Good Luck.

Re: letter to the editor - be careful with that one, as the school district has more lawyers than you can shake a stick at most likely, and the word "libel" looms large.

(As with everything, I can't give you any legal advice here, just the advice of a concerned friend who wants to see this turn out well... I have no idea whether what you'd say could be construed as libel or not, but certainly, it's something to put in your calculations...)

Man! Those two school sites look like they were designed by Homer freakin Simpson!

"You might think that all the animations and music would be annoying, but it isn't!"

Michele, sorry you have to deal with people who are too cowardly to help - especially when there's an obviously simple solution.

I like the idea of contacting a reporter. They might even consider doing a piece on how pervasive bullying is in your area. "It's not one isolated incident in Mepham, it constantly goes on every single day." That sort of thing.

This principal sounds like a cockroach. Make him scurry when the light of public opinion turns on.

I'm sorry I can't offer useful commentary on this...all I can see is a red haze at the moment. Don't back down, give them the hell you know you can bring. And give DJ a big hug for me, tell him it isn't his fault and there's nothing wrong with him.

Swerdloff - Good point about the potential for a libel suit, I hadn't even considered that. All the more reason to push to get a reporter to do a story instead of Michele. Let that guy or gal do all the heavy lifting of reporting, and shoulder the responsibility of getting the story right.

I guess trying to embarass the school into action by giving them negative press is a task best left to the professionals.

I was just wondering how many e-mails these people will be getting now that we have a way to voice our opinions.

pah. what shit. i got harrassed by faculty for my first two years in high school, was expelled for forging notes (who wants to go to school when your teachers take their anger at your dad out on you?), and now kids who choke other kids get to go home from school? pah. what shit!

To readers of A Small Victory: Read "The Bully Returns" and "Update" on this page, then click the school link, and read "A Message From Mr. Panzia" and "Character Counts". Next, move to the nearest sink and prepare to toss your cookies.

I think Joshua Martin in the "Bully Returns" thread had what will be the most effective idea. Have an attorney write a letter threatening news coverage if the issue isn't resolved in a set period of time. Also, there's nothing wrong with teaching the kid self-defense. Aikido gets my vote, as it teaches how to get control of someone with amazingly minimal effort.

Everybody I know (including me) seems to have burst into tears at least once today. I am proud of you for going. I am proud of you for being the Mom you are. I am grateful to know you as a (blog)friend.

Hug, hug,