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Old 04-08-2003, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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this will probably get moved and that is fine but i really need any input that anyone has before tomorrow morning. TIA!

ok, so here's the story: 11 yo dd goes to public school this year, first time after hs'ing and trying other various routes. she is an excellent student, respects authority, never acts up (although being an 11 yo girl she has her moments! ) but all around she is a great kid. she goes to a small school in a small town, everyone seems nice, things have been just fine - until last friday.

there was a choir visiting from an all girls school. they performed during school hours during an assembly with the honor choir from dd's school. dd didn't think the local choir sounded as good as the visiting choir because there are some boys in it whose voices are changing. she discussed this with her friend A, they concurred and then made the mistake of telling that to their friend L, who is a part of the honors choir. what they said was that the choir "sucked". so this hurt L's feelings and she immediately ran off and told their teacher.

now i know that dd didn't mean to hurt her friend's feelings, this has been a lesson on when to keep your opinion to yourself and to phrase things more delicately. it should have been handled in about 5 minutes. the girls should have been made to understand what they did wrong, apologies should have been made and that should have been the end of it. but here's where it gets sticky.

the teacher took it to the principal, the girls were yanked out of class and made to go to his office. he then yelled at them (dd said he turned all red and looked like a giant angry red balloon with a mustache) until he made both of them cry. he told them that he wanted them both to go write a letter apologizing to the choir for saying that they "suck" and that they might have to read it in front of the whole choir sometime this week (being a small school about half of the students are in the choir). at this point in the story i'm really angry.

so all weekend i hope that maybe they won't be called on to read these letters, the principal will realize that he overreacted and it will be forgotten. um, guess not. i told dd that if she were told to read the letter in front of the choir that she should refuse and have him call me if he wanted to discuss it further. he did call the girls out, they were headed for the music room but dd told him to wait and told him what i told her to say. he tried to call me but i didn't get the message until late this afternoon.

here are my problems with this whole thing; don't humiliate my child for having an opinion. she understands what she said was inappropriate, she apologized and it is done. i think there is a freedom of speech issue here... i also think that this was blown waaaay out of proportion to the point that it is just ridiculous. if it was that big of a deal i should have been contacted immediately. it was handled in a way that i would call bad at the very least.

so i'm going in tomorrow morning to ask for the letter and explain my feelings about this. i'm so mad i don't know whether to cry or kick a hole in the wall. i guess this is what i get for sending her to public school.

thanks for reading this - it got long. if anyone has anything else to point out here please do so. why do i feel like *i'm* the one in trouble and tomorrow i have to 'go to the principal's office'? i think this is my weird authority issue... :
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:29 PM
 
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I agree with you, and I don't think you should allow your daughter to read this letter in front of the choir. It is ridiculous that this has been blown out of proportion like this, especially considering some of the things kids do an say to each other in school.
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:36 PM
 
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It is so silly that they should have to read the letter in front of the choir. I would protest too. You feel like you're in trouble b/c the principal can bully your dd but not you. And you're resisting (as you should be). As for advice, I don't really have any. Not much help, I know! Let us know how it turns out!

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Old 04-08-2003, 08:45 PM
 
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you are doing the right thing..and helping your daughter through a tough ordeal in school. I applaud you! And she will remember this too...and how you helped her through it.

the principal needs to be repirmanded (sp?) for his actions!

beth
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:48 PM
 
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You might be able to politely point out to the angry red balloon that if he had handled this quietly and quickly (an apology to the girl that the comment was made to and the choir director, for example) that would have been highly appropriate and kept things in proportion, not to mention mended fences quickly. The issue of reading the apologies aloud to the whole choir begs the question: at this point does the whole choir even know the comment was made or is this just a method of making sure everyone knows unkind words were uttered about them? Either way, it's pretty ugly to demand a big public scene of a small child whose offense was committed quietly, in private. He will roll his eyes at this question, but if a teacher said something belittling to a child would there be a similar formal, public apology made?

I think you are doing the right thing to stand up with your child against this abuse of authority. Clearly your daughter owes apologies but she does deserve a public humilation.
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:49 PM
 
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mamathistle-
I'm in complete agreement with your initial reaction to this situation. I could see apologizing to the whole choir if she had insulted them as a whole, but she didn't.

I would be so ticked at this point that I would more than likely go over the principals head to the school district superintendent. This principal sounds like he has some serious issues with discipline. No child should be humiliated in this way by anyone in a position of authority. I might even keep my child home to make sure she isn't forced into this so called apology until you can resolve this issue with all parties concerned. The handling of this situation is unreasonable!

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Old 04-08-2003, 09:12 PM
 
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I agree with everyone else who has posted as well as with you. The whole "ordeal" has become one solely because of the principal's reaction. EVERYONE, no matter what their age, has a right to their opinion in this country. What should have been a quick lesson in tact has unfortunately become a lesson in Freedom of Speech for your dd.

The other post-er is right, dd will remember you sticking up for her for years to come. My mom stuck up for me in grandiose style once when I was 9. I'm 37 now and remember it fondly. You go, sister!!!
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Old 04-08-2003, 10:09 PM
 
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I think your dd's comment was hurtful, but her friend was immature to tattle to the teacher. I think by the age of 11, a child should be able to verbally defend themselves by saying, "That is hurtful and I will not talk to you if you insult me like that." Losing a friend would be a logical consequence of your dd's actions; public humiliation is not.

It's not appropriate for a principal to yell at children or humiliate them. Honestly I can't believe this man doesn't fear being sued for his behavior in this day and age.
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Old 04-08-2003, 10:24 PM
 
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Most schools have a written out discipline policy, maybe you have it in a student handbook?

They generally say something about this school does not use humiliation as a punishment. Could you find something from the school to back up your position? I think you are right about this even if the discipline statement does not say that, it just might be an easier thing to stand up for something already a school policy then to "create" one.
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Old 04-08-2003, 10:43 PM
 
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I am so sorry your daughter is going through this. What is going on is public humiliation. How awful for her, for her friend, and for you! I completely agree that the principal's disciplinary measures are entirely uncalled for. He shouldn't have been brought into it at all! I agree with others who say you should go above his head.

How are her friend's parents dealing with this?

I am sure this won't be much of a consolation, but this kind of thing happens in private schools as well. I can vouch for that from my own experience (and I went to a Waldorf school!). Any chance you can take her out of school altogether?
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Old 04-08-2003, 10:44 PM
 
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IMO you are completely in the right here. Sounds like the principle has some issues. ITA, you (anyone) should not be yelling and belittling children for having an opinion. It was how the opinion was handled that was the problem. I wouldn't have allowed them to make my child apologize for saying they suck either. Humiliation is not the way to teach anyone anything.
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Old 04-08-2003, 11:27 PM
 
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Looks like you've got some good advice here! You said "i think this is my weird authority issue..."
To me I think he has an authority issue and he won't back down after
he has made a decision. So be ready for him to not back down to you
either and he might show his "authority" to you too. KWIM
Just remember YOU are the parent and you have the last word!

Moving this to the preteen years forum now!
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Old 04-08-2003, 11:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by kama'aina mama
He will roll his eyes at this question, but if a teacher said something belittling to a child would there be a similar formal, public apology made? .
If appropriate I would ask him this question too.
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Old 04-08-2003, 11:39 PM
 
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I agree that the principal is acting irrationally. I think it was silly for the teacher to even mention it to him. I mean, if your dd had yelled it in the middle of a performance, or spray painted it on the wall, then a public apology might be in order. But to mention her opinion to a friend? Give me a break.

I would go in and simply tell the principal that dd won't be making the public apology. If you feel so inclined, you can also tell him that you feel it is highly inappropriate of him to scream at dd, no matter what the offense. And let him take it from there. I would keep it simple, and not launch into explaining your reasoning, unless you particularly feel like it. He is the one that needs to explain himself, not you. I have always felt it is more powerful to state yourself simply and let the other person blather on explaining themselves.

My parents also stuck up for me like this one time in 7th grade, and I've always remembered it. The teacher was being unfair, and they stuck by me. I was suspended for refusing to follow through on the punishment, and my parents asked me if I wanted them to fight the suspension. Heck no, I just layed around the house for a few days. And this was a Waldorf school.

I think it shows your dd that you listen to and respect her, and that while respect for authority can be important, it is more important to make fair decisions and stand up for right and wrong.
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Old 04-09-2003, 02:09 AM
 
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I would go in and simply tell the principal that dd won't be making the public apology. If you feel so inclined, you can also tell him that you feel it is highly inappropriate of him to scream at dd, no matter what the offense. And let him take it from there. I would keep it simple, and not launch into explaining your reasoning, unless you particularly feel like it. He is the one that needs to explain himself, not you. I have always felt it is more powerful to state yourself simply and let the other person blather on explaining themselves.
I think this is right on. The only other thing I would be sure to include, Mamathistle, is your own point that your dd is entitled to her opinion! This puts it into perspective for me. I have to admit, up till you said that I was in the minority, leaning towards telling you to tell your daughter to buck up and be brave and make the appology. But her comment was said in private and her (mildly) hurtful comment got carried away. It's like when little kids tattle on each other. No one likes a tattle tale. :

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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Old 04-09-2003, 04:13 AM
 
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I agree with all the previous posters as far as the principal blowing this all out of proportion, etc.

My .02 is that anyone treating a child like this; yelling until red in the face and causing the girls to cry is being emotionally abusive and bullying. not to mention the "discipline of humiliation" track he's insisting on.

Take this little tin tyrant on; he has no business being in a school!
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Old 04-09-2003, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you all so much! i knew i wasn't just totally off center here, i think i will ask him that question - just so i get to see the angry red balloon you know. i'll take your strength with me when i go kick his a$$ this morning. just kidding i'll post when i get home.
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Old 04-09-2003, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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he wasn't there today. i'll be on the doorstep of the school in the morning waiting for him.

it gets even better. this morning in music the teacher singled the girls out and made a remark about how maybe they could show the rest of the class that *they* could do better. sheesh! are the teachers just sitting around talking about this in the lounge??? i mean this is just getting adolescent to the point that i would rather talk with the superintendent than the principal. :
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Old 04-09-2003, 11:21 PM
 
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Wow. I guess your daughter can feel proud that they take her opinion so seriously! : I really am sorry she's having to go through this. How is she holding up?
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Old 04-10-2003, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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big sigh of relief.

went in this morning and took care of the whole thing. apparently there was a misunderstanding and they thought that the girls had walked into the classroom and announced to everyone that the choir and everything about it sucks. now this would be totally uncharacteristic of both of them and the punishment would have been inappropriate anyway but i can see the direction from which the school was coming.

i think what happened was that they didn't get out their whole story because they were both so afraid and upset, i mean they immediately knew that they had done something wrong and i know they were sad that they had hurt their friend. when asked "did you say this?" all they said was yes and the rest was for some reason taken for granted. which still annoys me but i put both of them (teacher and principal) on the spot and asked if the girls got in trouble a lot and is this something that they would do based on prior experience with them. maybe they realized at that point that they were way off base. i mentioned the music teacher's comment and that caused some embarassment on the part of the principal. he was very accommodating and said that he would take care of it.

in all, i'm mostly satisfied with the outcome but if they screw with her again i'll burn them at the stake. nothing like a protective mama bear. dd is in awe that i would challenge the mean old principal, i'm her hero and i love it. and thanks again everyone for listening to the rant and making me feel better.
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Old 04-10-2003, 12:27 PM
 
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I'm glad it went okay. Now, are the teachers going to write and read out public letters of apology to your kid????
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Old 04-10-2003, 03:14 PM
 
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i guess this is what i get for sending her to public school.
You would prefer that she be protected from the knowledge that people sometimes abuse their authority and behave inappropriately, until she is even older and less equipped to assimilate that idea?

ITA that the principal's and music teacher's reactions were inappropriate and that humilation should not be a discipline strategy no matter what the infraction. But in the real world, we sometimes encounter people who behave less than perfectly.

I appreciate that my parents listened sympathetically when I came home with stories of other adults' inappropriate behavior and that they took action when that behavior was seriously over the top and affected me directly. But I also appreciate that they conveyed to me that some people just don't think the same ways we do and are accustomed to different standards of behavior, and that meeting people like that from time to time is a fact of life. That doesn't mean we don't have the right to speak up for ourselves and explain how we would prefer to be treated. It just means that we shouldn't freak out at the fact that such people are allowed to exist and even to hold positions of power--that's life.

I think it's great that your daughter is attending public school. I hope that seeing you resolve this situation thru appropriate channels, and learning that the principal's over-reaction was based on a misunderstanding, will be a valuable lesson that she'll remember next time she's caught in a situation like this.

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Old 04-10-2003, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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irishmommy, wouldn't that be great? oh wait, she's just a kid, she doesn't deserve that.: that was very much the attitude i sensed today. that just bums me out.

envirobecca, she has had plenty of situations where she has been exposed to things like this and will encounter many more i'm sure. my remark was more in regard to *my* issue with public school in general. just had very bad experiences in them. the one she attends is particularly institutional. for instance, they have exactly 1.5 minutes to go to the restroom. no exceptions. personally, i consider this to be boot campish but she only has about 30 days left at that school and she is getting straight A's so i'm not going to gripe.

this has actually turned into a lesson in defending herself also. the kids were so scared that they didn't speak up for themselves to explain exactly what happened. i just hope she isn't going to be intimidated by authority. we discussed it and i think she sees my point. so we'll chalk this up as a learning experience and be done with it.
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Old 04-11-2003, 06:41 PM
 
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mamathistle I am so glad that this whole situation has been resolved, i have been thinking of you and your daughter since the day I read of the event. I am sure your daughter appreciates what you've done for her.

blessings,
Beth
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