We met with the teacher on Thursday and the principal on Friday. Both meetings had been pre-scheduled since it's end of quarter.
I was very open ended with the teacher and asked her to "Tell me about the class meeting." It's still not clear to me what happened but here's a brief outline.
This is what teacher told me:
After PE another student called a class meeting. (My general impression of PE is that the teacher has littel control over the class and that it's a VERY poorly run program full of dodgeball, relay races, kickball and students-on-display where you have to demonstrate a skill in front of the whole class where they are all either laughing at the kid on display or punching their neighbor or name calling. Meeting with principal was to discuss the PE curriculum and how the classes were run).
During the class meeting students were asked to stand up and discuss how they were contributing to the problems with the class. About 12 students out of 23 stood up.
They all talked about the problems in the class. The counselor then came in and took over because she has been scheduled to talk to the class ahead of time. Then they all went to lunch.
(There was more in there but these are the facts.).
I then asked if there was a class vote? Did the students vote on something?
Teacher said yes, during the meeting there were 2 students left standing (It's unclear to me why some students were able to sit down and why 2 remained). My daughter remained standing. The teacher asked the students to go around the room the name the child with "the most problems with name calling, or bullying or not following the rules or..or... or.,..... (she listed like the paragraph long thing - even *I* didn't know what the vote was all about and I was there asking about it. We confirmed that DD had the most votes for whatever this was.
I then asked the teacher what outcome she was expecting from the vote. She told me that students need a say in how their classroom runs and voting gives them that voice.
I then asked if it was OK to share with her what my child got out of the vote. Then I shared with her essentially what I wrote in post # 12 above.
At this point teacher gets very, very defensive and says that's not her intent. That wasn't what she meant at all. She never meant for it to be like that etc, etc. She starts talking again really fast. I then asked her again to tell me what it was the students voted on and she goes into this long, long thing full of the person who has the most trouble with..... and then she must have listed 10 things.
I then shared with her that I'm not sure the students really understood what they were voting on and perhaps they just named the name the person before them did - kind of like a peer pressure situation. I then told her that a few of the girls who voted for my DD later apologized to her.
And that was pretty much the whole 20 minutes. We discussed her report card in the beginning which only said that DD needs to work on co-operating with others. Everything else was pretty much check plus.
DH and I still need to schedule another meeting with the teacher to finish the conference since was ran out of time.
There is one boy in her class that she continues to have problems with and has for the past 3 years. I discussed him specifically with the teacher a few weeks ago. This boy is physically aggressive and verbally insults my DD - he calls her "an ugly little girl." DD is the minority race in her school so this is really getting to her. Bascially the teacher said he was a real "boys boy" and particularly hated taking direction from girls. And that was the cause of the issues between the 2 of them. This boy's behavior is on red 2-3x a week (including the day of the vote. DH noted that DD was on green that day).
I found out from DD also that she had a "shared job" with the boy where they both took the lunch basket down to the cafeteria together. This is minimally supervised. The 2 students go ahead of the teacher. DDs says the teacher told the 2 of them to carry the lunch basket together. Boy's boy asked DD if he could carry it by himself. DD said no - we're supposed to share. At the stairs Boys Boy again asked if he could carry it down the stairs. DD said no - we're supposed to carry it together. Boys Boy then gets mad and says "But I asked nicely!" At this point some other teacher intervenes and tells them to carry the basket together. At the bottom the stairs, boys boy gets mad and shoves the lunch basket and DD against the wall. Other teacher witnesses this - sends DD to the nurse. Nurse isn't there so other teacher brings DD back to classroom where she has lunch with teacher. Boys Boy has lost his job carrying lunches.
I hear about this when DD comes home from school. I'm a)Shocked that she is STILL in unsupervised or lightly supervised situations with this kid and B) stunned that no parent communication note was sent home.
When I asked teacher about this as well, she said it was her mistake to have kept them on this job together, but she says they'd had no problems in the past 2 weeks (Well yeah - DD's gets called an ugly little girl by this kid daily, she's stopped reporting it). When I asked teacher if she had asked DD direclty if there were problems, teacher responded that DD hadn't said anything (meaning DD hadn't volunteered anything). When I asked hwy we hadn't been notified of the incident by the school, teacher said the nurse didn't call us because it wasn't serious. In fact, nurse wasn't there.
This all took place in the parent-teacher conference. We met with the principal the next morning where we discussed the Gym class - NASPE position statement on Dodgeball and the PE Hall of Shame form JOPPHERD publication - dated 1992-1996 and why was this still going on in our gym class. I had a number of professional PE teacher documents for principal. Principal was very good and said not a word. He just listened.
We then went on to the class vote, which he obviously knew nothing about. DH and I reiterated that under no circumstances should students be voting on other students unless it was to elect class rep. DH shared the Florida case with the principal where the teacher had the students vote the Autistic kid out of the classroom for the day and was awareded $350,000 in settlement money. Principal reiterated that he would find out from teacher what happened, there wouldn't be any more votes FOR student with the most problems and he'd put "eyeballs" on the gym situation.
Still not certain what we might do. DH and I are huge public school supporters (and principals kids go to the school) but I just don't know. I've got one in day care full-time right now so there's not really any money for private. But clearly this can't continue.