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#1 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 9yo son is very bright, tests 3 grades levels ahead in reading, tests 86% plus on standardized math tests. He is bored a lot in school but he loves reading. He works hard at his evening homework and turns all homework in on time. I know that he takes a long time to complete in-class spelling and writing assignments, but according to him he always finishes them by the end of the week deadline (and teacher has never said anything). I know he doesn't always listen to the teacher the first or second time, but he isn't disruptive or being sent to the office. I had some meetings with the teacher before conferences because she wanted some strategies for him, but she has not given me any positive or negative updates since early October. Report card came this week. He was given D (Does not meet expectations) across the board except for reading.  His reading teacher Ms. N(who only spends a little time with him on Tuesdays and Thursday) sent a lovely letter with great comments about his strengths and weaknesses. But his regular teacher and his math teacher sent NOTHING in the way of written comments. Every other year we get written comments. So I am feeling very angry but want to be constructive. Help me edit my initial draft below.

 

Dear Ms. G-

 

I am very disturbed by J's progress report. I am having a very hard time understanding how a child who scores well above average on all the achievement tests, who completes all his homework assignments, who has a huge vocabulary, a voracious appetite for reading, completes his math homework with minimal assistance and writes creative stories when doing his spelling homework can receive D's almost across the board. I am even more disturbed that NO written report was included with a more detailed analysis showing what the school has observed and is working on to help bridge this chasm of differing results.
 
I understand that he is not always completing his classroom assignments as quickly as you expect. It can take him a long time to complete homework assignments, too, even though he is focused. But to have zero details and feedback from you as to any improvements you have seen this quarter, to have zero feedback as to what strategies have been working, and to have little to no new information from you since conference time has me extremely upset.
 
I would like some more thorough feedback from you. Have you had a chance to speak with his past teachers yet? I hope so, because I think they are a very valuable resource. I am very concerned that you are losing him as a learner. And he is a kid who LOVES to learn. He has come home extremely excited and enthusiastic about the book report project with the cereal boxes, the science experiments being done, etc. Yet he doesn't appear to be meeting any of your expectations. If there is zero positive feedback for his efforts, he is going to quit trying. And he really is trying even if you are having trouble observing it.
 
Lastly, I am upset to hear from Ms. Ns report that he was held out of book club on two occasions. Book club is exactly the type of school experience that is going to help him become more engaged in general. The type of analytical reading they are doing is the best thing H. Elementary has offered him to date. I feel very strongly that it should not be held over his head as a privilege to be taken away if he hasn't completed spelling assignments or when there are other issues. I try not to step on a teacher's toes in terms of their classroom priorities and discipline, but I make an exception in this case. Please find some alternative methods for providing him the time he needs to complete his spelling.
 
I would like to review a copy of the spelling workbook used weekly in the classroom. J has expressed that he feels very overwhelmed by the quantity and the difficulty of the spelling assignments. He is especially struggling with the sorting exercises and I need to have a better understanding of what is involved so I can recommend some strategies for him to utilize. Let me know how I can best accomplish this...can I borrow an extra copy for a week or should I schedule a day to come to the classroom to review it?
 
Thank you,

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#2 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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personally I would not email that letter

 

Given what you received an email is not in order, a MEETING is!

 

This is far to much and an email is what they should have sent  you one prior to the report card-IMO

 

If I undersand it, the D is not his grade for test, quizzes, work, etc- just for not living up to a set standard-nothing to do with grades? So the grades are one thing yet he is not up to "a set expectations" of the teacher?

 

 

 

 

Quote:
 I try not to step on a teacher's toes in terms of their classroom priorities and discipline, but I make an exception in this case.

I don't get this part- what does this have to do with it? It does not come off as a discipline issue and I see nothing that this relates to priorities. How are priorities part of across the board D's?- unless it's the teachers "priorities" and not really reflective on your DS

 

 

and I would not mention past teachers (a new one never wants to hear it) - you also set up a meeting (PRIOR to this one!) with last years teacher (and don't tell the current one) you might get a better insight into the mind set of this teacher and how they came to this - most likely the past teacher will help you a lot


 

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#3 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 06:10 PM
 
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I rarely comment, but as a teacher myself, I wanted to support you.  hug2.gifI think that you are amazingly intuitive and know your son's learning style very well!  This is so important in that you're modeling a standard of advocacy for him.  It's so important for our students to learn how to be their own best advocates for their own best learning; to speak up and communicate with adults and other students in a productive way is a true gift.  He is so lucky to have a strong parent at home!

 

I think that's it's very unusual for your son's teacher to have sent home a report card containing this overwhelmingly negative information without first having called or emailed you with an explanation.  Elementary assessments can be vague and subjective.  In this case, the educator should be concerned enough to have discussed specifics in your previous meetings or contacted you before sending this information.  I think you were caught unaware and unprepared, and that there seems to be no "action plan" on the teacher's part.

 

As it's still relatively early in the school year, my recommendation is to go about this in a tactful way.  I don't mean to imply that you should back down or turn a blind eye.  I just want to propose that in order to keep the lines of communication open for the remainder of the year, you should make your expectations clear in a friendly way.  You have willingness to provide suggestions and support at home--that's a huge positive--the teacher should have the willingness to listen and employ these suggestions while providing feedback to you.

 

To set a tone of collaboration, you may want to adjust your email.  It comes across as enraged (as I imagine you are--rightfully).  Perhaps rather than sending a lengthy message--which may be read as a rant and cause a communication breakdown--you could say something like, "I'd like to discuss DS's recent report card.  Can we set up a time for a phone or face-to-face conference?"  This gives you time to think carefully about how to approach this person; to plan out your questions and to come up with constructive ways to help her understand your son better as a learner.  

 

I agree with serenbat that this report necessitates a meeting.  I don't agree that you should visit last year's teacher secretly.  I think that last year's teacher, if she's a professional, would be loathe to give you the dirt on this year's teacher.  She may even tell this year's teacher that you contacted her.  This could break communication down too.  Think of how you might feel if this were to happen to you in a professional capacity or even in a friendship.  It hurts to think that people are going behind your back or conspiring to gather intel on you.

 

I hope that this is helpful to you!  If your son's teacher is truly invested in his growth and respects you as an involved and caring parent, she'll work with you to help him meet success. smile.gif

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#4 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 06:16 PM
 
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Totally agree with Serenbat. Ask for a meeting. There is far too much potential for the stuff you wrote to be taken in the wrong light. Not that I think you've written it badly or wrong. Just that communication over something like this needs to be face to face and back and forth in order for the parties to begin to understand each other before one or the other of you takes offence. It's great that you've written it all out, because it will help you keep your thoughts organized when you speak with the teacher. And of course I agree wholeheartedly that you should have had some significant communication from the teacher about whatever issues underlie your ds's performance. But I think the best way to fix the lack of communication is to meet in person.

 

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#5 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 06:28 PM
 
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Quote:
I don't agree that you should visit last year's teacher secretly.  I think that last year's teacher, if she's a professional, would be loathe to give you the dirt on this year's teacher.  She may even tell this year's teacher that you contacted her.  This could break communication down too.  Think of how you might feel if this were to happen to you in a professional capacity or even in a friendship.  It hurts to think that people are going behind your back or conspiring to gather intel on you.

this is not how I meant it

 

if last year you had a good relationship with the teacher you should feel free to still talk with them-if this is vastly different from prior years grades by all means talk to one who spent a whole year with your child and knows them far better- did they see these things? don't go in with a just well last year they didn't see this but now you do attitude  

 

I was once in a situation and the prior year teacher told me they were glad I spoke to them first- and they did provide me with insight that was helpful in dealing with the new teacher- it was not seen as some no no, quite the opposite- for many communication does not end at the end of the year----in high school I often spoke to teachers I had in the past regarding help with other teachers, it was viewed as open communication and we were made to feel free to do so


 

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#6 of 17 Old 11-22-2012, 09:29 PM
 
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I'm curious why you are not looking to schedule a conference with the teacher. It seems tat would be more productive than a series of emails...
 

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#7 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 12:26 AM
 
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I think it was probably cathartic to write this email. I imagine it might help you focus you thoughts and get to the core of what your issues are and what you want to say to the teacher. However, I really believe you should schedule a meeting and talk face-to-face. There's just too much potential for miscommunication via email, especially about something so important.

 

Everyone else has had good advice.

 

Hang in there!
 

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#8 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses. This is why I have not sent the email. I do feel incredibly angry still. I have already spent a lot of time meeting with this teacher and I feel very frustrated by her general attitude. I do not feel confident in her abilities right now even though I want to. The reason I feel that she used his reading group as a disciplinary option is because of the way the letter from the reading teacher Ms. N was phrased. She told me that he was held back from 2 of his group meetings "due to issues within the classroom". Ms. G never informed me about this or the reasons. My son told me it was because he had not completed enough of his spelling work in class.

 

I have already requested that his current teacher speak with his past 2 teachers (note- at this school he has the same teacher for 2 years in a row so his past 2 teachers know him really, really well). They both had issues with him during the first part of their first year with him and they have really good insights into what works and does not work with him. Both past teachers know that I have asked Ms. G to speak with them so they are prepared, but they and I agreed they should let Ms. G approach them.

 

I know I should meet with this teacher again. However, I am not confident in my ability to be civil at this point. I have tried to be very helpful with ideas and strategies (the teacher requested strategies from me after the first 2 weeks of school). So we were in touch a lot via email and in person during the first month and a half of school. Three face to face meetings and as many emails. She told me the information was very helpful. I have emailed her updates and info on his homework during the last 3 weeks of the quarter and she simply thanked me, but gave me no feedback positive or negative about how things were going in the classroom.

 

In terms of the "grading system":

 

It is supposed to inform me about my "child's progress toward achieving the Minnesota Academic Standards." Taken right off the report card. The "Academic Development Key" is as follows:

E = exceeds grade level expectations

M= meets grade level expectations

P= partially meets grade level expectations

D= does not meet grade level expectations

 

Hence, my utter confusion that my child who scores very high on all the achievement tests and does very well on his homework has been given D's across the board in writing and math (he did receive an M, a P, and a D in the reading categories and a P in science concepts and social studies). Every other quarter I have had written comments from the teachers, this is the first teacher who did not provide that. I used to be a teacher and I was always required to write at least 2 paragraphs about each student to go along with their report card. I had 100 students, she has 30. It does not improve my overall opinion of her right now.

 

I think at this point I will break the email into 2 separate ones. The first will express my confusion as to the lack of written comments on the report card and to ask if she feels a meeting would be beneficial. The second to let her know that I want to review the spelling text to help J figure out why he finds some of the exercises so troublesome. I will keep each one brief.

 

Thank you for talking me down. We are becoming increasingly frustrated with this school in general and looking into options. He has 7 quarters left at this school unless we decide to pull him. I will continue to work with the school for at least one more quarter before it might just be hopeless.


Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#9 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 12:40 PM
 
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regarding this - 

 

Quote:

It is supposed to inform me about my "child's progress toward achieving the Minnesota Academic Standards." Taken right off the report card. The "Academic Development Key" is as follows:

E = exceeds grade level expectations

M= meets grade level expectations

P= partially meets grade level expectations

D= does not meet grade level expectations

is there a state criteria that defines this or is this arbitratory?

 

even given what you just said I really don't see the real "discipline" issue-again, if the teacher has one why don't you know what happened to cause this?!

 

making a child have to miss a reading group -IMO would constitute a serious infraction (again you should have been told this) is he still able to do the reading group material if he wasn't allowed to go? it really doesn't seem right


 

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#10 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

regarding this - 

 

is there a state criteria that defines this or is this arbitratory?

 

even given what you just said I really don't see the real "discipline" issue-again, if the teacher has one why don't you know what happened to cause this?!

 

making a child have to miss a reading group -IMO would constitute a serious infraction (again you should have been told this) is he still able to do the reading group material if he wasn't allowed to go? it really doesn't seem right


I don't know if the state defines how exactly this should be measured other than it is supposed to be a combination of the standardized tests, in class work, in class assessments, and homework. So I definitely want to understand the teacher's rubric she is using to base these ratings on. According to my son, he always finishes his in class work though it usually takes him until the end of the week. I have not received anything from the teacher indicating that he wasn't completing things. She had only told me that she felt like he didn't use his class time very efficiently and that he is disorganized and that he needs directions repeated.

 

I agree that unless he had been causing an actual discipline problem that he should never have been held out of this reading group. I am most upset by this part of it and the fact that I WAS NOT TOLD this was happening. I have received no information from the teacher that there were discipline problems, just my son saying that he was held out because he had not completed enough spelling work. Not a good reason in my mind.


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#11 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 01:09 PM
 
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I would send a brief email asking her to recheck the grades first and saying the grades you have seen coming through. I would then move onto a meeting to see why your son isn't doing well grade wise if the grades aren't a mistake. Teachers in my dd's school are allowed to lower grades for late work but they don't tend to make referrals if the child is able to do the work. If you feel that a new plan to address behavior is necessary in order to ensure your son is being motivated effectively that is something I would request a meeting for with the teacher and principal at this point since the meetings with just the teacher aren't helping.

I have found with my dd that ability and her actual willingness to do her work are not at the same level and it has been a long process getting an effective plan thar works to motivate her to do her work is a process that has to be dealt with each year. The most effective thing I have found is getting her teacher on board with sending work home in a timely manner and following through with making her complete it before playing each night. I stay out of it and just make sure it is done and she does it quickly and after a few weeks of follow through at the start of the year she does her work. This is the second year we have had a teacher willing to do this and it makes a really big difference in her.motivation and grades.
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#12 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 01:29 PM
 
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I don't know if the state defines how exactly this should be measured other than it is supposed to be a combination of the standardized tests, in class work, in class assessments, and homework. So I definitely want to understand the teacher's rubric she is using to base these ratings on. According to my son, he always finishes his in class work though it usually takes him until the end of the week. I have not received anything from the teacher indicating that he wasn't completing things. She had only told me that she felt like he didn't use his class time very efficiently and that he is disorganized and that he needs directions repeated.

 

I agree that unless he had been causing an actual discipline problem that he should never have been held out of this reading group. I am most upset by this part of it and the fact that I WAS NOT TOLD this was happening. I have received no information from the teacher that there were discipline problems, just my son saying that he was held out because he had not completed enough spelling work. Not a good reason in my mind.

Your frustration is completely understandable!   geez I would not be calm

 

 

 

Quote:
I would send a brief email asking her to recheck the grades first and saying the grades you have seen coming through.

I find this mute. Even is the grades are correct it was sent with no comments-would not be expectable to me.

 

 

Is this a public school? 

 

Personally I would go over the teachers head (now that I know how the criteria is suppose to be applied), given you have been in touch prior and I just don't understand the lack of accountability here, you send a report card with this many D's and no comments, to me I feel this just not expectable. It seems like you are a parent that is involved vs one that is not, so why be treated this way? There are just too many things going on and no information given to you- begs why this is being done-IMO


 

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#13 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Definitely some food for thought here. I am starting to calm down enough that I can actually move forward with setting up a meeting. We have previously discussed ways to motivate him in class. Supposedly she put in place an incentive for him to get extra "read to self" time (his favorite activity of the day by far) if he gets his work down on time but don't have a sense of how well she is using that carrot. The key with him is consistency and some use of incentives. I like the idea of her sending home incomplete work for him to finish here and she has done a little bit of that, but she hasn't given me any guidelines. For example, he did not complete his cereal box project during class time. It was a project he was really enjoying but things that involve writing take him a long time so she sent it home with him. But I was not made aware of the requirements or the deadline. My son is not very skilled at remembering that kind of information so I like to have prior knowledge so I can verify the correctness of his information. So while he worked a lot on it at home, he told me he would have more class time that Monday and I have no idea if it was true. She takes about 4 days to email me back if I ask questions so that is not much use.

 

The school is a public school. In past years, the classes have always been relatively small (20-22 kids), but this year they decided to combine the 4th graders into one big room of 60 kids with 2 teachers. They divide them into different groupings depending on the subject matter and have assistant teachers come in for certain groups (like his twice weekly reading group). It is making for a more chaotic start to the year than normal and is making me question whether he should stay there. In past years I have also had a work schedule that allowed me to volunteer in the classroom. This gave me a big advantage because I could see first hand how the teacher dealt with classroom management and how the academics were presented. This year I am flying blind, but I think I need to find some quiet days at work to go volunteer. I really don't feel I have a good understanding of this teacher. She always comes across to me as someone who is just thinking "what is wrong with your son and why won't he just conform." I am sure she is better than that but that is what comes across to me when we have met.
 


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#14 of 17 Old 11-24-2012, 02:57 PM
 
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I definatley wouldn't send that email. I would be pretty angry as you are though. I would say something to the effect that I was concerned aobut the grades and noted there were no comments at all and want more information at a meeting and I would cc the principle.

 

Then you can get into more detail aobut your concerns face to face

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#15 of 17 Old 11-24-2012, 03:15 PM
 
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A parent conference is in order, and I would recommend you go with another adult and a notepad.  Don't take your child to the conference or have them wait around...give yourself some time in between the conference and seeing your child to get your blood pressure back down.

 

There is typically no "state criteria" for elementary school student report cards, especially grades K-3. 

 

I am a teacher (and a parent who is often not impressed with some of the teachers DS1 has had).  Some teachers are great and others aren't.  It is very hard to get through a year when you've got a rotten one.  It can be somewhat easier in high school, when things are departmentalized and your child only has to put up with a lousy teacher for one period out of seven or whatever.  However, it's life training...you can't always surround yourself with shiny, happy people...my older son has learned how to modulate his performance based on a teacher's personality.  Same thing you have to do when you've got a rotten boss or grouchy neighbor.

 

If you have met with the teacher and gotten nowhere and your child doesn't like his placement, would switching classes be an option?  It would cause a big flap for sure, but might be something to consider.

 

As far as the email, just remember that even if your child gets assigned to a different teacher, they (and many others on the faculty) will likely have seen what you wrote. Just try to stick to the facts as much as you can.

 

Best of luck.  Hope it's not a loooong year...


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#16 of 17 Old 12-23-2012, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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UPDATE:

 

Apparently I am far from being the only parent upset that there were no comments on the report card and shocked/dismayed at the scores. Other gifted kids were given very low marks for the first time ever and the parents were told that the child was graded on in class work only and graded low because the teacher thinks that they will get better through the year. It was only this teacher (of the 2 4th grade teachers) who marked so low.

 

I have been in close contact with all his teachers this quarter. I have put my foot down in terms of him being with held from his challenging reading group just because he hasn't finished some other worksheet and after a rocky start this quarter that seems to be improving. The teacher also finally did something that was outstanding with him. She sat down with him and helped him design a schedule in his planner for completing the big research packet for a project on Mississippi. She gave him an incentive (earn 4 extra "read to self" sessions) if he finished by a certain date. I am using a similar system in his planner for him to plan out his Daily 4 activities, spelling exercise goals, etc. in his planner before he leaves for school each morning.

 

I have requested and received a copy of the vocab/spelling book and math book. He and I have a pep talk session every morning before he goes and it seems to make a difference.

 

He also did an amazing job on his Mississippi project poster (he designed some very elaborate ideas and then worked for 3 full weekend days to make them come to life). He also rocked his class presentation. All the teachers and students were raving about it. This success made me really recognize how the school we are considering for him in 6th grade will probably be an excellent match. It is a Project Based Learning program where the kids (with help from advisors) plan and execute big projects that meet the state standards.

 

I had a face-to-face with the teacher Friday morning and she seemed to indicate that while there are still some concerns (his unwillingness to work effectively with a partner, uncooperative behavior with adults) he is much more focused and accomplishing a lot more in class.

 

THEN he got suspended Friday! Apparently he had had a number of discipline reports (disrespect toward teachers, i.e. not listening and then Friday threw paper at a teacher) throughout the week. None of that had been reported to me until he got suspended. You can understand my shock and frustration! I had a good phone conversation with the principal. The school wants to put a 504 Plan in place (something I requested 2 years ago but was told was unnecessary...sigh). I am also going to get his OT records for his sensory processing diagnosis and treatments and we are going to have him evaluated again because the sensory issues are becoming a big deal again this year.

 

I still debate every day whether this classroom setting is the best place for him this year. None of the other gifted readers are in his class (so he only interacts with them 2x a week for 40 minutes). He is really missing his gifted friend who is at a different school this year. The classroom has way too many kids this year and there are apparently a group of about 10 kids out of the 60 that are being very disruptive. The school is trying to address this but...

 

Another parent moved her gifted 3rd grader recently for some similar reasons. I just don't know. Seems very disruptive to move him at this point given how hard it is for him to adjust to new teachers anyway.

 

So Friday he and I worked on a new behavior contract that is aimed at him becoming more aware of how he interacts with his teachers using the concepts and templates from Smart But Scattered.

 

Sorry this is so long. It just helps me organize my thoughts. Thanks ahead for any thoughts and opinions.
 


Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#17 of 17 Old 12-23-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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THEN he got suspended Friday! Apparently he had had a number of discipline reports (disrespect toward teachers, i.e. not listening and then Friday threw paper at a teacher) throughout the week. None of that had been reported to me until he got suspended.

 

 

that would have been the breaking point for me---out of there ASAP! and I would file a complaint past the school to who overseas what happens at that school---uncalled for- IMO


 

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