Eventually ain't cuttin' it.
Friday at midday I was still very upset and unsatisfied about this whole thing, so I put a call into the guidance counselor. (Here's where it gets unbelievable.)
Foolish me expected the guidance counselor to be, oh, let's say, sympathetic and affirming? The first thing she did was to say that she had the principal in the room so that the three of us could talk in a conference call. Then:
- The principal tried to ream me out for "going behind her back" and approaching "one of my staff" and "repeating my words verbatim to her."
- The principal denied saying that the kids were "out of my control once they get on the bus" and said I was "mischaracterizing what she said unfairly."
- The principal said she was "highly offended at my attitude."
- The principal said I had "unreasonable expectations" because an adult can't ride every bus every day to monitor the kids' behavior.
- She said the bus driver's job is to drive the bus, not worry about what the kids are doing.
- The principal said that it wasn't true that she wasn't doing anything about the bus; she had held bus niceness programming at the beginning of the school year and she was very upset about the way the kids were treating each other on the bus.
- The principal said that she couldn't tell me whether any disciplinary action had been taken against the repeat offender kid because it was "private."
- She said she could assign my kid a special seat near the front of the bus by the driver.
- She gave me crap for calling again because, you know, she's busy and she didn't get the first email message because she couldn't (wouldn't?) access her email for two days and she said she'd call me back so how dare I call her staff member (see no. 1 above).
I'm pretty sure she said some other obnoxious things, too, but they were the highlights.
In case you're keeping score, please know that I responded with, inter alia, the following:
- I said that I was under the impression that the guidance counselor's job was to help with situations of interpersonal conflict and I had the right to speak with her about helping my kid have a better experience on the bus. (At this point in the conversation, I had pretty good self-control.)
- I said that the principal's exact words yesterday were "out of my control once they get on the bus" and that I had written those exact words down because I was so astonished that a principal would say such a thing. I said that the school was legally responsible for those kids from the minute they stepped on the bus until they stepped off at the end of the day. I said that the school clearly was charged with monitoring bus behavior since the school district has a written bus conduct policy.
- After repeating several times "My kid gets struck three times on the bus, and you are treating me like I'm a pain in the butt?!" [you can see how my self-control is still pretty good here, because I didn't say "pain in the ass," but it's starting to crack], I said I refused to apologize for going to bat for my kid when he gets hit by other kids on the bus. I also suggested that when a parent comes to the principal with a legitimate concern about bullying, the principal might want to reexamine her own attitude given the way this conversation was shaping up.
- I told her that the previous principal (who retired last spring) would get his butt on the bus and ride it when necessary to ensure that the kids were aware that they had to behave. I told her that if the message is communicated to kids that nothing will be done if they misbehave, they will continue to misbehave, and that if no repercussions happen when a kid hits, they will act as though it's acceptable to hit. (Okay, here's where I lost it a little. I also told her that my father was a schoolteacher and administrator for over 40 years, and my brother is a teacher and my aunt teaches third grade, and so having come from a family of educators, I know darn well how hard the job is and am completely supportive. I also told her that my father would never have tolerated such a situation on a bus that he was in charge of.)
- I told her I didn't understand how a bus driver could drive safely with bedlam behind him, and that at the very least, when made aware of an example of physical aggression (as this driver was, because I told him), the driver needs to report it.
- I told her that programs at the beginning of the year don't address this specific issue (well, maybe I forgot to say it that clearly and I wish I had said that) but I definitely said "are you telling me that a kid kicks my kid in the chest and he's hit him once before, AND YOU WON'T TELL ME if he gets any discipline?"
- I told her that I did not think she should punish MY kid when he's the one getting hit, and that it was ridiculous to focus on him rather than the kid doing the hitting. Why wasn't the hitter getting a special seat? I pointed out that my kid got hit three times and NEVER hit back, and they should be giving him a medal rather than a special seat.
- I expressed skepticism that a principal in charge of a high-tech, well-funded school like Radnor would either not have access to or check email for two days and continued to reiterate that it was my kid getting hit and this was UNACCEPTABLE. I think I also repeated myself about not apologizing for going to bat for my kid WHEN HE GETS HIT MULTIPLE TIMES ON THE BUS, twice by the same kid. I also told her that the last time we spoke, she said she'd get back to me "eventually" and told her that I wrote that word down to because I was astonished that her attitude was so blase.
Oh yeah, the guidance counselor tried to come in at the end and say a bunch of crap about how she and the principal "get it!", oh yes they "get it" for "we are parents, too!" Yadda, yadda, yadda.
At this point I was so angry I was afraid I might use some vulgar language so I said I expected to be kept apprised of the situation and hung up.
It's time for a letter to the superintendent, with a "cc" to every member of the school board.