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Is is appropriate to write a letter to the school regarding their discipline policy?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

My daughter is a 1st grader at a local public school. I hate it there, we are going on day 4. So far, it has been ALL rules and regulations, and they are very punitive. They give detention to 1st graders for being late and for behaivor. They take away recess for daily classroom 'misbehavior'. They will not allow you to bring anything your child might have forgotten because they want your child to learn from their mistakes.

I feel like everything in this school is punishment and behavior based. I have yet to read how they will foster a love of learning or really anything about education or learning itself. My husband and I are both in agreement that this is not what we want for our daughter, this is so the opposite of our life and parenting philosophy.

 

The school wanted us to sign something basically saying we received the rules and agree to them, but I won't sign it, no way am I saying its ok to give my 6 year old detention for being late, something she has absolutely no control over. We want to send a letter to the teacher and/or principal discussing how the entire philosophy feels to us, how we dislike the major focus on punishment and how we think it is harmful to children (ours in particular).


I am not sure what will change if anything, but I almost feel like remaining silent is consenting. has anyone experienced this before? How do you handle it? How would you word a letter, and what would you expect as an outcome?
Thank you!

post #2 of 48

Before you start writing letters have you gone in to talk to the teacher?     How much misbehaviour is needed before they take recess away.  

 

The first bit of school does have quite a bit of rules & regulations because they need to set their boundries for what is & isn't acceptable at the beginning of the year.  I hardly doubt all they have done in 4 days is go over rules, pretty sure they've done other things too.

post #3 of 48
I'm not sure what I would do if I HAD to send my child to a school like that. We have a magnet school in our district that sounds very similar (except there is also the brick of shame, so everyone knows you were late or forgot something). So I don't send my kids there. I send my you best to the complete opposite - I actually forgot to send him the first day since his brother and sister started different days ;-).
post #4 of 48

I urge you to talk to the teacher before you decide the school is your enemy.  They can't function without rules and discipline and those rules need to be the same for everyone.  They can't possibly discipline every single child in the method each parent would prefer, it would be chaos.
 

See how it plays out before you decide to ask them to change the whole disciplinary system.  You haven't seen it in action yet. 

post #5 of 48
I think a letter is appropriate. My daughter went to 4th and 5th grades in a school I really did not like - very rules based, rigid, and punitive. Sounds a lot like the one you're describing. We've had experiences with several public schools, and while they do all require kids to conform to their structure, the are definitely not all so harsh about it. A letter would be a great way to give them feedback on how heavy handed their approach appears to some new parents. You have other choices, after all, and they would be wise to try not to alienate their students' families.
post #6 of 48

My kids go to an uber mellow school with no detention, and I really wish kids did get detention for being late. The amount of interruption caused by families who continually arrive at school up to 30 minutes is ridiculous.

 

I totally understand why schools have strict rules about this. You waste all the other children's time and cause the class to loose focus when you are late. In a culture where being punctual isn't a priority, the way some families behave is pretty unbelievable.

 

As far a parent bringing in forgotten items, it, too, is a major interruption that causes the class to loose focus. (or causes extra work while the office admin delivers the needed items).

 

What we do is have a "launch pad" where we put everything needed for the next day. When my kids go to bed at night, all books, homework, permission slips, etc are together and then they just pick them up as they walk out the door.

 

At the beginning of the years, the rules are laid down so that every one is clear. I agree with meeting with the teacher before writing letters. 

post #7 of 48

In elementary school, its often the parents' fault a child is late. I don't think a 6 year old is responsible for getting to their destination on time. It would be cruel to punish a 6 year old because their parent over slept the alarm clock. 

post #8 of 48
I think you should schedule a meeting to ask questions about the policies and voice your concern first. It sounds like a thorough discipline plan that includes possible consequencrs for ongoing behavior problems and it is typical to get a letter addressing the full plan from day one. That doesn't mean they start at that from day one and they probably allow excused lateness when a parent walks in and gives the reason for being late.

If it turns out that your interpretation is accurate I would write a letter and CC a copy to the principals supervisor stating your concerns about the focus on harsh punishments for little things rather than a problem solving approach with a continuum of consequences that fit with the behavior as well. I am betting that it will not need to get to that level though.
post #9 of 48

While it is often the parents' fault when a child is late, it is also often the child's dawdling that results in tardiness. Holding the child responsible cuts down on the latter, and may result in the child bugging the parent enough to make the effort to be on time. OP - has your child been late this first week of school? If so - why? If not - do you see it being an issue?

 

I agree that you need to find out just what/how much misbehavior results in losing recess. Fact is, 20 kids running amuck in class isn't reasonable, so they do need to restrict that kind of behavior.

 

As for not being allowed to bring things teh child forgot? I can tell you that both of mine knew from the first day - if they forgot it? They had to live without it. Didn't matter if they forgot something at home they needed at school, or something at school they needed at home. They would have to deal with it as I was not going to go back for it or deliver it to them. I don't think they forgot something more than once.

post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 

wow... lots of mixed feelings on this one.

 

My daughter has not been late this first week, but I myself am not a terribly punctual person so I can see it being a potential issue in the future. I have two other children, one a high needs toddler and the other an older child with special needs that gets on the school bus 10 minutes before we need to leave to get middle daughter to school on time. If her bus is late, middle dd will be late. It is absolutely not her fault, and I would not consent to her being punished for it. I also believe it is too much responsibility for a 6 or 7 year old to have to manage getting to school on time. The policy is after 5 times being late the result would be detention.

 

Recess is taken away after a verbal warning about behavior if the behavior continues. I do not agree with taking away recess for any reason, I feel that a child needs a physical outlet for their energy, even a child who misbehaves. My daughter is very sweet and well intentioned, but also a bit forgetful. If she leaves her lunch on the table or her glasses in her room, yes, I am going to bring them to her. I am not going to expect her to go without or go hungry for the day because of an honest mistake. If I forget something essential to my day I go back for it or go buy a replacement. Why shouldn't my child have the same opportunity?

post #11 of 48

For some reason, it didn't take my first edit and instead wrote a separate post. Response below.


Edited by whatsnextmom - 8/26/12 at 7:59am
post #12 of 48

Oh gosh, just saw your update so changing response. FIVE tardies before getting detention is more than reasonable! Even then, I suspect if you lay out the issues with a special needs child, they will be understanding. Being late is disruptive to the class and mortifying for the child. I understand you have a lot on your plate but as a kid who was habitually late because of my parents I plead with you to get her there on time as much as possible.

 

How do you expect your child to learn to remember her things if you aren't going to let her deal with the natural consequences of her actions? She's 6 and the stakes are still very low. I tell you, the parents I knew running home to get forgotten items in elementary are STILL doing it in high school. Their kids didn't learn their lesson and now the stakes are high and it's easy to rationalize running home to avoid dropped grades and exclusion from college. THIS is when they learn these things... right now when all it means is they had to wait in line for plain peanut butter and crackers with white milk from the lunch room (what our school gave kids who forgot their lunch,) or they have to miss a little game day one Friday because they forgot their work. These little lessons help.

 

Getting a warning for misbehavior before missing recess is adequate. I don't personally agree with the missing recess part but I've also been shocked by how unruly and disrespectful some kids can be even in 1st grade! Teachers need some discipline options and you know, missing recess is a powerful deterrent for some of your tougher cases. Personally, my kids LOVED the strict teachers because they fostered a safe and positive learning environment unlike some of the "nice" teachers for whom there were more bully issues, more disruption, slower academic pace, ect. 

 

You are 4 days into the school year. Have you actually seen the teacher in action? Do you have an idea of how she/he, in particular, handles these situations or are you just going strictly off the contract? I haven't known any teacher which took these contracts so black and white. They are usually rational people who know what they are ALLOWED to do but will play it all by ear. It's unlikely they will actually take recess away after 1 warning in the beginning. However, if they have a child who is especially unruly and disrespectful, they CAN give a penalty after 1 warning and that may be needed in that case. 

 

Give it more time, find out how the rules are actually handled by the individual teacher, talk to the teacher if there is an issue for your child, if you still have a problem, talk to the principal in person.

post #13 of 48
I am sure if you explain the situation with your older dd's bus time to your dd's teacher and principal they will be understanding even if their policy is typically as strict as you believe it to be. Tardiness at my dd's school is excused if a parent gives a reason for it. Excessive tardiness is tracked though and can be used to bring parents into court but that is rare. As for the not bringing forgotten things in, that seems reasonable to me. There is no way I am going to take of from work to drop a forgotten item off at school, it wouldn't be feasible and it would be reflected in my performance review.

Instead I make sure my dd has her things in her backpack the night before and has her backpack with her before we leave the house. When I packed her lunches they went on top of my purse or in her backpack so they were never forgotten. I see it as my job to help her remember things she would otherwise forget. She has never attended a school where children would go hungry if they didn't bring lunch, public school extends a ten dollar credit and her charter school and summer daycare had some extra food available.

The recess situation is frustrating but I have found that it tends to never ne the whole recess unless the child is very disruptive and teachers tend to try new strategies if it isn't effective. It is typically a last resort even if teachers ate allowed to make it a first resort.
post #14 of 48
Quote:

Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

 

You are 4 days into the school year. Have you actually seen the teacher in action? Do you have an idea of how she/he, in particular, handles these situations or are you just going strictly off the contract? I haven't known any teacher which took these contracts so black and white. They are usually rational people who know what they are ALLOWED to do but will play it all by ear. It's unlikely they will actually take recess away after 1 warning in the beginning. However, if they have a child who is especially unruly and disrespectful, they CAN give a penalty after 1 warning and that may be needed in that case. 

 

Give it more time, find out how the rules are actually handled by the individual teacher, talk to the teacher if there is an issue for your child, if you still have a problem, talk to the principal in person.

 

This! Different teachers handle classroom behavior very differently even at the same school and operating under the same overall policy. Just wait and see how it goes for your child. If you're not in agreement with the policy you might want to just sign that you read it and cross out the "agree" part. Also, you might try to establish a rapport with the teacher first and see what her personal philosophy is. If you have some resources you can offer her that might work, but it's best to approach it from a "working with" perspective rather than an antagonistic, adversarial standpoint. 

post #15 of 48

I had a post here but I've deleted it because it wasn't supportive, and this is support board. This is obviously a very big and stressful change for Sesa70.

 

It's been a long time since I had a 6 year old, and my kids have learned to take their things to school and get their on time. At one time, that did seem really overwhelming to me. I was also nervous the first time I turned my kids over to school for the day, and concerned about how they would be treated.

 

I didn't use to be that organized. bag.gif

 

But now we are on the other side. The kids rise to the expectations and grow in ways we think they aren't ready for. We've had FABULOUS teachers who cared about the kids and were fair and reasonable. I've figured out to organize things to make it all flow semi-smoothly.

 

Sesa70, I hope your DD (and your whole family) have a better second week of school than the first week, and that you all are able to move through this transitional period easily. I hope as you get to know the teacher, and not just the official school policies, that you feel great about your DD's experiences.

 

Peace


Edited by Linda on the move - 8/26/12 at 9:12pm
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

wow... lots of mixed feelings on this one.

My daughter has not been late this first week, but I myself am not a terribly punctual person so I can see it being a potential issue in the future. I have two other children, one a high needs toddler and the other an older child with special needs that gets on the school bus 10 minutes before we need to leave to get middle daughter to school on time. If her bus is late, middle dd will be late. It is absolutely not her fault, and I would not consent to her being punished for it. I also believe it is too much responsibility for a 6 or 7 year old to have to manage getting to school on time. The policy is after 5 times being late the result would be detention.

Recess is taken away after a verbal warning about behavior if the behavior continues. I do not agree with taking away recess for any reason, I feel that a child needs a physical outlet for their energy, even a child who misbehaves. My daughter is very sweet and well intentioned, but also a bit forgetful. If she leaves her lunch on the table or her glasses in her room, yes, I am going to bring them to her. I am not going to expect her to go without or go hungry for the day because of an honest mistake. If I forget something essential to my day I go back for it or go buy a replacement. Why shouldn't my child have the same opportunity?

I agree- the rules are, IMO, unreasonably strict and militant for elementary school. I have occasionally brought forgotten items to my daughter's middle school... unless it happens frequently, it just isn't that disruptive. Why couldn't you leave the item in the front office to be retrieved or delivered during a transition? That plus the tardy policy- sounds like they're trying to train parents as much as children, and it's the child who pays the price for lapses. Detention in elementary school? Really?? Come on. I wouldn't be comfortable with my kids in such a rigid environment, either.
post #17 of 48

I would definitely discuss the morning schedule issue with the principal and the teacher. Also, consider talking with your transportation department about the bus schedule for your SN child - they can sometimes tweak the p/u time, which would give you soe extra wiggle room.

 

As for delivering forgotten items... OP would need to pack up a high needs toddler - which is not always an easy thing. I know, in my case, I worked over an hour away from home. So... what was left at home? Stayed at home. Backpacks were packed and left by the front door the night before. I asked them if they had x, y, z... The first few weeks, I checked their bags. And then I left it at asking them if they had the needed items.

 

Forgotten lunches? I don't know of a school who would allow a child to go hungry. Many will credit the child's account up to a certain amount so they can get whatever the hot lunch is. Others will provide a cold sandwich and milk.

post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

It sounds like a thorough discipline plan that includes possible consequencrs for ongoing behavior problems and it is typical to get a letter addressing the full plan from day one. That doesn't mean they start at that from day one and they probably allow excused lateness when a parent walks in and gives the reason for being late.
 

 

 

Agree. The rules do seem strict but I agree with others that you should speak to the teacher and find out how s/he implements them. Sometimes schools have fairly rigid written policies to fall back on when they are dealing with unrepentant repeat offenders who break those rules without good reason. They set out those rules at the start of the school year to avoid later arguments that students/parents didn't know about potential consequences and so they shouldn't be held to them. 

 

Late arriving students are disruptive to the teacher, who has just managed to get 2 dozen classmates settled down to work for the day, and a distraction to those 2 dozen. It also isn't fair for your DD to have to walk into class late. I understand the stress of dealing with other children in the morning and being at the mercy of a bus schedule. Is it possible for another parent to take your middle daughter to school, or perhaps an older student can walk her to school? 

 

Aside from speaking to the teacher (and possibly the principal) and possibly writing a letter, consider attending the school's parent council/association meetings. If you find that the rules are rigid and the school is overly punitive, then get the discipline policy on the agenda and voice your concerns to a group who may be able to help you change things. But don't be surprised if the other parents approve of the discipline policy and support the school. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #19 of 48

Most schools don't receive any state funding at all if I child misses the attendance period. Tardies are a significant revenue drain. Schools cannot punish the parents so they have to address it with students.

post #20 of 48

I do think detention in elementary school is extra harsh. I haven't heard of that before. We do have the 3 unexcused tardies = 1 absence rule. I think the missing recess, etc, is pretty typical. Our school also has no issue with parents bringing forgotten items to the front office. I did that a few times last year with forgotten water bottles (mainly because the kids were upset), but they don't always get picked up/taken to the class.

 

The main thing, though, is how the teacher enforces all of this. Some teachers can have very punitive classroom behavior management strategies and some can operate more from a standpoint of reinforcing positive behavior. Check with the teacher first and see how she/he handles things. Then you'll probably get farther if you get involved in the PTA or the SIT (School Improvement Team, or equivalent).

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