So, we're truant. - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep. We got the letter in the mail today. There are some papers for me to sign that I'm not too keen on signing. The wording says I've read & understand, but really I don't. DS is actually considered "habitually truant" now. So here's what happened.

 

1. He has a bunch of unexcused tardies where he was 1 minute late. I'm assuming he was 1 minute late walking in class, not sure. We did go through 3 weeks or so where we were getting to school within 4-5 minutes of the morning bell. Because staff members get the kids out of the car, I always assumed (yeah, I know...) that if they were still getting the kids out of the car that he was fine. I didn't realize that he wasn't getting to his classroom on time. His room is the farthest one from the drop-off point, so really if he had a closer class, he wouldn't have been late. FWIW, we have been making an effort to get to school earlier, but February is a difficult month for me. (I have bipolar disorder, and I'm usually not well in February.) Still he hit the "truant because of tardies" point in mid-February, but they never notified us then. I didn't realize until we got his report card 2 weeks ago that he'd been counted tardy repeatedly.

 

2. My dad is terminally ill. He lives 700 miles from us. We've visited twice - once the first week of February and then Mar 31-Apr 8. (He only missed 2 days. The other week was his spring break.) I was told by my family there that he was dying both times (and actually one doctor who released him from hospice said he wasn't sure he'd even live through the ambulance ride home). So...I talked to DS' teacher (by email). She said that it wasn't a problem (in Feb), so we took him out for 1 1/2 days to go down, and I wrote a note. Then when the whole hospice issue happened 2 weeks ago, DH called the school and talked to them because we know that we will have to take him out again for the funeral. We weren't sure what to do. The school secretary said that it was not a problem and just to write a note explaining the situation. 

 

So today we get this letter with those dates all marked "parent note, unexcused." Now they're saying that a doctor's note is the only thing that will be accepted for any tardies or absences from here on out. Seriously!?! After TWO employees told us that the absences were fine??? I'm annoyed about the tardies, but okay, yeah, we need to get there earlier. I'm really ticked off about the absences, though, because 1) they said to to take him! and 2) he will have to miss for the funeral, which I feel is inevitable before the end of school. 

 

Should I include a note with the form they sent? Will anyone care? I'm not sure what happens when you're notified of truancy and then miss school or are tardy again.

 

 


It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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Old 04-12-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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I think I would take the letter and go talk to the administration at your child's school.  We just moved to Georgia, and I know that they are very strict about truancy here - as in, regardless of your child's grades, if you have too many unexcused absences, you can't be promoted to the next grade level.  I think it's crap.

 

I'd talk to the principal/administration regarding the tardies.  I'm not sure you can be counted as truant for being tardy.  He's IN class.  He's not  missing school - he's just late, and barely at that.  

 

I'd also talk to the admin regarding your father, and the fact that in all likelihood, your DS will be missing more time for his grandfather's funeral.  This isn't something that cannot be overcome.  Just talk to the school.

 

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd talk to the principal/administration regarding the tardies.  I'm not sure you can be counted as truant for being tardy.  He's IN class.  He's not  missing school - he's just late, and barely at that.  

 

That's what I thought as well. The thing is that on the day I got called, we left. I picked up him at 1:00 from school. It's one of the "tardies." No, it's not by definition. Tardy means late, not leaving early. When I was in school, if you were there past a certain point, then you were considered (and still are, for funding purposes) present. 

 

Apparently the policy changed this year to say that tardies count as a percentage of the day but that they count as "absence events" for the official count. Still, 1-3 minutes? All of his tardies are 1-3 minutes. That's such a small percentage that it seems like it's just absurd to send us an official notice about it, especially since they were mostly in February, and it's now mid-April.
 

ETA: We tried homeschooling but thought school was better. His school doesn't provide enough differentiation for him, which we've tried to be thoughtful about, but really this just makes me want to go back to homeschooling, especially if the rule about doctors' notes applies in future years.

 


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Old 04-12-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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BTDT and I wouldn't worry too much. In our district, those letters are generated automatically once a certain amount of tardies or absences are hit. Doesn't matter if they are excused by the school or not. We got them a couple times when my kids are doing professional shows. We had permission and full support of the school. My kids kept up with all the work and were top students. Still, you reach a certain capacity and the letter pops out. I just took them in and made sure we were OK with the school and always was.

 

So, I'd go talk to someone and see what the full meaning is behind it. Is it a warning? What happens if your son has to miss more. Find out if your district has an recovery days. In our district, some weekend school functions can wipe out an absence. Also, you might consider putting him on an independant study contract for the funeral. He'll get all his work in advance and in the school's eyes, he's actually IN school (they still get their money.)

 

The tardies, they should be the easiest thing to fix and will go a long way at establishing good-will with the school. As a kid, my parents were singers in clubs and so worked until the wee hours of the morning. I don't blame them for always getting me to school late and I never told them but it was so stressful to be late all the time.


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Old 04-13-2011, 12:16 AM
 
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In our district, they are actually much happier to let students travel for five days plus than for four or fewer, because for a week or more they can send some worksheets and get funded for those days, whereas a shorter trip cuts their funding. If you need to travel again, you might find out of there is any similar kind of work-around.

 

That situation sounds infuriating. We had a massive amount of tardies when DS was in kindergarten, but it was just notes on the report card, with no real consequence. In your case, I think I'd want to meet with someone to get some kind of understanding about what comes next.

 

I'm sorry for your dad's illness, and so far away, and for the school having so little understanding.

 

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Old 04-13-2011, 05:17 AM
 
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I know that siblings cannot be penalized for lateness or absences due to the other's disability, but I'm not sure if there is a provision for parents.


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Old 04-13-2011, 05:31 AM
 
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It's actually quite normal for an absence to be "unexcused" without a doctor's note or something similar. For the trip to hospice, you'd likely have been okay with a letter from the hospice center, indicating the situation. Same when your Dad passes - obituary, copy of a death certificate, etc - will turn it into an excused absence.

 

As another poster said, those letters tend to be churned out automatically. I've gotten them, too. Oh well.

 

Regarding the tardies... Sure, a minute isn't a big deal. Except it kind of is. It disrupts the schedule the teacher has set. Everyone else is ready to get started, and in straggles one child. When it happens with relative frequency, it's aggravating. What it tells the teacher is that her time, and that of the other students, is not as important as your/your son's time. So, yeah, work on that...

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Old 04-13-2011, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Regarding the tardies... Sure, a minute isn't a big deal. Except it kind of is. It disrupts the schedule the teacher has set. Everyone else is ready to get started, and in straggles one child. When it happens with relative frequency, it's aggravating. What it tells the teacher is that her time, and that of the other students, is not as important as your/your son's time. So, yeah, work on that...

I actually don't think it's a problem in DS' class. They're not all seated by the time he gets there or anything. I've been there in the mornings for various things to see how it works. The kids go to the theater, and at some point, the teacher or aide will get the kids from his/her class. They all walk to the classroom together. There are no bells, so this is fairly arbitrary time-wise. After talking to DS, I realized that what's happening is that DS always walks to the theater, looks around to see if any of the kids from his class are there. If he doesn't see anyone, he goes to his class. He said that he's only been the last kid to get there once (and we knew that, he actually was tardy one day). 

 

When I'm there, there are teachers at 7:52 (official start time of 7:55) walking their kids back and checking them off on an attendance sheet. Kids going to the theater weren't late; their teacher just got her class early that day. There are other teachers who aren't even there or who haven't gotten their kids yet. When I needed to drop something off one day, DS' teacher wasn't there at 7:55. She was running late. Any kid who also showed up late that day got a free pass on the unexcused tardy front. So I find the whole tardy issue just really disorganized. Now, we could just get there 10-15 minutes earlier, but they also could come up with a better system.
 

 


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Old 04-13-2011, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know that siblings cannot be penalized for lateness or absences due to the other's disability, but I'm not sure if there is a provision for parents.


I doubt there is, especially because I don't get any type of official disability payments, though my therapists feels I could qualify if I tried. It's an issue I've worked on a tremendous amount. It's gotten better, but ultimately we'll move to a place with a less "gray" winter because that should at least help. 

 


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It's actually quite normal for an absence to be "unexcused" without a doctor's note or something similar. For the trip to hospice, you'd likely have been okay with a letter from the hospice center, indicating the situation. Same when your Dad passes - obituary, copy of a death certificate, etc - will turn it into an excused absence.

 

As another poster said, those letters tend to be churned out automatically. I've gotten them, too. Oh well.

 

Well, if that were the case (though it's not according to the school's handbook, which I'll be pointing out when I talk to them), then DS' teacher and the school secretary shouldn't have said separately that a parent note would suffice. I'm printing out the email from DS' teacher saying that it would be excused and just to send in a note. The letter actually came from our school and not the district office, which bothers me more. The same person who said that a note from us would be fine mailed the letter!
 

 


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Old 04-13-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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Don't worry about it. Like others have mentioned, the letter is generated by the district who has no idea who you talked to or whatever. Nothing is going to happen to him if he misses one or two more days of school. Seriously...nothing will happen. You might get another letter, but that's it. It takes a lot more than some tardies and a few absences to get a district to DO anything major like ask that you attend a Truancy hearing at the district office. Don't worry about it. Throw out the letter :) 


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Old 04-14-2011, 01:59 PM
 
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We have 2 kids at the same school, and they get there at the same time... and we got a letter for one student, but not the other!  I think one teacher is more conscientious about tardies, and the other teacher doesn't notice.  I just changed all the clocks ahead 10 minutes, and we seem to be doing better now. 


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Old 04-14-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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We've gotten "the letter" as well. My kid plays a competitive travel sport. He misses Fridays. A lot. He has good grades, his brother and sister are there - mostly ;-). They are pretty automatic here and they always tell me not to worry about it when I go in. For those parents that are not aware of the tardies or absences they are checking in.....
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Old 04-14-2011, 03:00 PM
 
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In our district, they are actually much happier to let students travel for five days plus than for four or fewer, because for a week or more they can send some worksheets and get funded for those days, whereas a shorter trip cuts their funding. If you need to travel again, you might find out of there is any similar kind of work-around.



How does that work? The school I teach in didn't meet AYP again because of attendance. We are such a tiny school that if one family with 3 kids goes on vacation for a week, that's a big chunk of our absences. If there was a way to not have those days be considered full unexcused absences, that would be awesome!

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Old 04-15-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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This isn't our district, but it's the first thing I found online. It sounds similar to what friends have described:

 

EXTENDED ABSENCES

What do I do if we have to take our child on a trip with us, or will be out for a medical reason? 

For planned absences of 5 or more school days, contact the school office at... for a Contract of Independent Study (CIS). A CIS must be completed 5 days prior to the absence. This allows your child to keep up with the schoolwork. It is the student's responsibility to pick up the assignments from his or her teachers before he or she leaves on a contract. The PE department does not assign homework but requires a log of activity hours to be submitted—see a coach for details. The student must turn in assignments to each of their respective teachers on the first day back to school. If the work is not received they may not receive any credit for the assignment(s).

 

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Old 04-16-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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This isn't our district, but it's the first thing I found online. It sounds similar to what friends have described:

 

EXTENDED ABSENCES

What do I do if we have to take our child on a trip with us, or will be out for a medical reason? 

For planned absences of 5 or more school days, contact the school office at... for a Contract of Independent Study (CIS). A CIS must be completed 5 days prior to the absence. This allows your child to keep up with the schoolwork. It is the student's responsibility to pick up the assignments from his or her teachers before he or she leaves on a contract. The PE department does not assign homework but requires a log of activity hours to be submitted—see a coach for details. The student must turn in assignments to each of their respective teachers on the first day back to school. If the work is not received they may not receive any credit for the assignment(s).

 

That would certainly help the student keep up with academic requirements, but how can the school keep up with the state's attendance requirements when a student is on vacation?
 

 

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Old 04-16-2011, 09:51 PM
 
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When a child is on independant study contract in our district, they are considered "in school" by the state. They can claim the child as present and get the funding for them. 

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That would certainly help the student keep up with academic requirements, but how can the school keep up with the state's attendance requirements when a student is on vacation?
 

 



 


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Old 04-17-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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They may have more of an issue with the lateness than with the two missed days of school.  Even though it is just a few minutes after the bell that you drop him off he may be even later if he is taking time to get his stuff put away and himself into his seat and caught up with the opening activity.  If he stops to use the bathroom first he is even later.  Some teachers and principals are more strict about late than others too.  At my dd's school it isn't unusual for kids to be 5 minutes late and they don't make you sign them in unless they are 10 minutes or more, at her old school if you were after the second bell you had to walk in with your child and sign them in.

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Old 04-18-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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Have you asked your child how it's possible that you are dropping him off on time, yet he is tardy?
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:30 AM
 
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It sounds like they are trying to send a message.  I'll be honest, perpetual lateness drives me crazy.  It's so disrespectful.  There is simply no reasonable excuse, just get up and leave 5 minutes earlier.  If it was important to you, it would be easy to do. 

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Old 04-19-2011, 08:31 AM
 
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BTDT

 

When dd1 was in 1st grade, we received a generated letter from the school district saying she had missed more than 10 days of school that year blah blah blah...

 

It was also the year a nasty flu bug went thru the school, head lice (have to keep children home, we didnt get but it killed the school on absents etc) and we also battled strep for several weeks passing back and forth. Finally around late April, my dd again got a high fever and the Dr suspected pneumnia (sp?). So I left a message and email for the teacher about how she had a high fever, I would follow the school's recommendation of keeping her home until it was normal etc. She called me back and was like- well of course you would do that, get her better. Finally I told her about the letter. Neither the teaching staff nor the principal knew about the letter that was auto generated by the school district and sent to all the schools' students. It was the 1st time they ever did such a thing. It was also right around the time a few years ago when the state of IL started having major budgetary issues. A few schools got flooded with calls regarding it as well.

 

In the end, the teacher and principal both said, do what you're supposed to do, keep her home get her better. We always completed the work on time and she is a good student so its not an issue.

 

Another issue:

 

Same year, several of the kids were like your dc, marked tardy. Kindy students go in the front door of the school, the rest go around the back to two different doors-1,2nd grade and another door for 3-5th grades. There are teachers there etc. But if its right at the bell, the older students after the kindy kids enter, can enter in that door as well. Turns out, the back doors were closed and then the child who got there too late had to go around again unsupervised I might add. Turns out, a kindy mom with a zealous attitude to put it diplomatically, was telling all non kindy students in a harsh way to go in their own doors. In the rain sleet, snow, late. Some would barely make it, others had to walk around. It took a couple of parents calling the principal and telling her what was going on to straigthen it out.

 

I would not worry and so sorry about your father.


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Old 04-19-2011, 09:13 AM
 
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We've gotten the letter, too. My son was out 2 weeks to visit his grandmother in a different country. We told the school months ahead of time, and they were completely fine with it, but warned us that he would get a truancy letter because the letter was mandated by the state. As there were absolutely no consequences tied to the letter (for us at least - I'm not clear on whether it affected the school's funding) , we were fine with it. I was surprised when the letter came directly from the school principal and not the state, but I guess it makes sense that the individual schools are responsible for fulfilling a state mandate on attendance matters.

 

Talk to the school again. It is very possible that the letter they sent was mandated, and that what they told you in person is how the school really handles attendance matters.

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Old 04-19-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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I might add, we are taking our kids out of school next week. We are spending Easter with my parents in another state. I talked to the teachers yesterday. One does her planning every Tuesday so will have all the work she would do all ready before we leave. She also has to complete a packet regarding her trip and what she did. Its close to the end of the school year, my dd does well and will complete her assignments so its not an issue. She also has missed almost no school this year. Being sick a lot that kindy and 1st grade year makes them immune later on LOL!  


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Old 04-19-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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Our school secretary told me to always get an excuse note if you are taking your child out for an appt. She said then it will automatically count as "excused" and not part of the 10 absences and it makes things easier for her reporting absences. So I always do that now for dentist appts or if I do take my child to the doctor when they are ill.

 

My 7th grader got a letter for missing 5 days of school, warning how is she misses 10 days, she will need excuses, blah, blah, blah. I could see sending it if she had 8 or 9 absences, but she's had 5. School ends next month, what are the odds the she is going to miss 5 more before then?

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Old 04-19-2011, 02:00 PM
 
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I'd probably try and retroactively "correct" the travel issues.

 

And then take ownership for the days when you and your family were late. Door placement is really not an issue. Kids are either on time or late. Late kids are very disruptive in the classroom and get everyone off to a late start. I think it is disrespectful to the teacher and class to make them frequently wait for your child.

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Old 04-19-2011, 06:55 PM
 
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I would do what you need to regarding your child missing school for illness and family issues. If the school or district makes a big issue about it then just pull your kid out of that school and find a better place. I used to fret over the kids missing school for illness. Costs me $115 per doctor visit.If there was an accident on the highway I would get them to school late,so that meant a tardy. I am not going to send them to school sick,and I am not going to speed to avoid a tardy.

 

Around here they send out notes.Then you see a truancy officer who decides whether or not to charge you with educational neglect.After that I suppose it is social workers and court and fines.

 

All absences are unexused unless you have a doctors note,but a parent is still expected to write their own note.Even if the absence is excused by a doctor the teachers still complain about the days my kids missed.HELLO they were SICK?!?!?!!?

 

 Usually I get my kids to school early,but I will wait somewhere before dropping them off.If they get there early they have to sit outside until the teachers let them in.To bad al the other paents get there at the last minute,and it causes a long line of cars.I don't want my kids sitting outside in the cold.

 

In the end it all comes down to : Rules are Rules. You want to be a part of the school you follow the rules.This is what I remind my kids(and myself). If it becomes to much of a hassle for us we will leave the school.

 

Very sorry about your dad.

 

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