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Thread: Teachers behavior towards 1st Grade son

  1. #31
    Senior Member NikkiMaya's Avatar
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    Because this person is a teacher, this behavior is especially unacceptable and has to be dealt with right away. Letting it go sends the message that it's not a big deal, and it actually is. No child should have to put up with inane questioning that singles them out from them peers. Even at the age of seven, your son knows that this is bizarre behavior. Props to him for bringing it to your attention! Now you get to teach him a life lesson, and go forward to say that it's not okay for the teacher to make a spectacle of dad or make insinuations about people with SCI by asking questions about whether mom and dad were married before or after his injury. To me that question reeked of the pervasive societal judgement that it would be unlikely for someone to marry a person after they had been injured. Maybe I'm reading too much into the question, but why else would you ask it specifically like that?

    I would agree with the majority of commenters and recommend going in to school to have a polite but firm conversation with the teacher where you make it clear that such questioning can't happen again. If you feel comfortable, you could let the teacher know that now, during the meeting, is the acceptable time to ask some questions. But you know what? It really isn't any of her business anyway, and it's not your job to educate her on disability! Unfortunately, as we know all too well, most people have no idea what constitutes proper disability etiquette. While you are there, you might also want to remind the teacher that she is a role model for her students, and they will look to her for cues on how to understand disability issues. Furthermore, how would she feel if the same highly personal questions were asked about her through a third party family member?

    Finally, I would document in writing the date and time of the incident along with name of the parent who called you, as well as how it was resolved. I would then save this information somewhere in your personal records. Heaven forbid that a repeat of this episode or something similar were to occur, you could grab the information from your files and use it as needed. I find that it is important to have documentation of this type of incident (anything involving harassment or discrimination--I used to work as a victim advocate and constantly advised people to document, document, document). Down the road, worse case scenario, you may end up meeting with the principal or school board and you have a neat list of dates and times when the teacher made inappropriate comments, along with names of parents and children who heard what was said. Being organized makes your case so much stronger. Best of luck, and don't take any crap from this woman!
    In our world constituted of differences of all kinds, it is not the disabled, but society at large that needs special education...to become a genuine society for all. -Frederic Major, Former UNESCO Director General

  2. #32
    I understand the frustration here. I would approach the teacher, and principal if you don't get the results you want. Sorry for the long post but I have been where this parent is myself when battling schools and teachers. Your son should never have to explain what happened to his dad unless he wants to. I, as a student with a disability, had to explain my disability SEVERAL TIMES while in school to teachers and staff.

    What my mom always did (and what should have been done) was on the first day of school, she would go to my school and talk to everyone in an assembly about my disability. I didn't get any questions, problems, etc about my disability until the 5th grade. The following are a series of very true stories of problems I had while in elementary and middle school.

    5th grade...I had one teacher who INSISTED I be tested because of supposed lack of attention....I DON'T have ADHD, only Spina Bifida. (She just wasn't a good teacher LOL).

    Then the bottom fell out for the 6th, 7th and 9th grades, not because of academics (I was always good in everything but math), but because of physical access issues.

    I get to the 6th grade and a student brings a gun to school to show off (true story...no one was shot thankfully). The school bans backpacks for the remainder of the year (this happened about a month before we were to get out). I try to explain how I'm supposed to carry a change of clothes, catheters, wipes, etc AND 7 classes worth of supplies on a laptray without being mortified and having to answer a boatload of questions. Didn't work. I go home almost crying in rage (I get VERY quiet when I'm ticked off), and explain what happened. BY THE TIME OF MY FIRST CLASS THE NEXT DAY, my mom was up at the school (unknown to me until I get to school) and has to retell the principal what I had tried to explain. I get to keep my backpack for the rest of the year.

    7th grade...new assistant principal. We are assigned lockers. I get assigned one of the tallest blue lockers in the building. I look up and go "HOW THE BLAZES AM I SUPPOSED TO REACH THIS (remember, I am unable to stand up)??" I complain again to the school and mom. Next day, once again unknown to me until I get there, I'm able to choose one of the shorter ones in the Special Needs department (close to where the accessible buses load and unload students), lock removed and replaced with my own padlock (school purchased the lock after the sand my mom raised LOL) so I don't have to fight with combinations. I found it outraging that I had to get my mom involved with this when I, as a preteen trying to advocate for myself, couldn't get results.

    I ended up having to take remedial reading classes in 8th grade due to 2 (5th and 7th grade) inept teachers when I was reading COLLEGE LEVEL material in the 3rd grade. Luckily the 8th grade teacher let me do whatever I wanted because she knew I didn't belong in her class.

    I get out of middle school and the district grants me the ability to pick the high school I want to attend (I thank FORT BEND ISD for being this flexible to this day). I visited the school I would have been going to because of zoning (being the closest to my house and the school my brother attended).

    TRUE STORY: I get to visit the school. They tell me their bathrooms are unaccesible to me in a manual chair, but accessible to a power chair one of my exes (at the time) uses due to CP. They then proceeded to tell me I could not use the nurses bathroom to cath, and would instead have to go to the regular student bathrooms and have someone stand in front of the stall door to keep it closed. I said no way was I going to give up my privacy to go to a school I live close to (funny enough my brother hated it too but he couldn't get transferred out for some reason). I got to choose a different school and had the best 4 years of my life.

    I wouldn't take any crap like Nikki said and get these issues solved now before they lead to worse problems.

  3. #33
    Moderator jody's Avatar
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    are you still in school?

  4. #34
    Wow, Erica - and I thought I had it bad with a college class where the professor had to send the guys in class to lift me over the stairs every time! Sounds about right for a public school, though. :-p

  5. #35
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    Erica,
    You and your mom did the right thing by getting in front of any problems you could possibly face. I have learned that over the 35 years of dealing and living with a disability. I now have had a service dog for 4 years and in my local area. I approached the managers of the different stores and as a courtesy, I let them know about my new dog. This is just one example

  6. #36
    Senior Member NikkiMaya's Avatar
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    Wow, Erica! Unbelievable what you had to go through as a child and teenager! It is truly as if some places try to set themselves up to be sued with an attitude like that. I think these places count on the fact that likely people won't go to the time and expense of hiring a lawyer, and it is understandable that most people can't. Personally, I have had it with bullish*t like that, and the next time something really egregious happens, look out! Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not looking for a fight! But I am absolutely sick of people thinking it is okay to trample all over the ADA. Not okay!

    I attended a small liberal arts college, and the school prided itself on the disability services office. The person who ran it had a serious disability and used an electric wheelchair. However, she only came to campus via one short route, and spent all her time in her office. She was very out of touch with the actual access problems on campus because of this. I would bring up issues, and she would smack them down, saying things like, "well you should be grateful that we have an accessible door in the new art building." That is not acceptable logic to me. Because we made progress in one area, we should sit back and relax and forget about working on all the other glaring issues? I don't think so.

    My senior year, the school held a luncheon on campus-wide disability issues. It was a self-congratulatory event, where faculty and staff, almost entirely able-bodied gathered to pat the college on the back for aesthetic changes that had been made over the past decade. Was the school deserving of praise, absolutely. But I find it odious to hold an event like that without at least penciling in time to look forward at the challenge ahead. This was not what that event was about. I knew that, and so I conducted my own "walking tour" of the college, and found many areas still in need of revision. These weren't hidden away, they were used frequently and presented problems. I wrote up a ten-page report and tried to present it. Of course I was shut down, although one faculty member stood up and said she was outraged about the access issues and wanted the report distributed to all administrators, which it was. I am so thankful to that professor for championing my cause. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, presenting that report to a roomful of people that didn't want to hear what I had to say. Because I graduated about a month later, I am not sure what kind of impact the report had, but I hope it was good for something!

    We really have to be our own advocates. That is the bottom line here.
    In our world constituted of differences of all kinds, it is not the disabled, but society at large that needs special education...to become a genuine society for all. -Frederic Major, Former UNESCO Director General

  7. #37
    Member Lilli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixFiresky View Post
    I was a student in a teacher's college a couple of years ago. Based on what I encountered there, my guess would be that the questions about your marriage were probably out of personal interest, with the justification of learning about events in the home environment that might affect your son's behavior.

    The Q&A session with the doctor, on the other hand, sounds like a kind of clumsy attempt at implementing teaching about "diversity". We were taught to draw upon an individual student's "differences" in home or background in order to make students aware of the differences among minority people in the community. So at Christmas, a teacher might ask an asian student to tell about about holidays their family celebrates, for example. Of course, this is supposed to be done with finesse and sensitivity, and it sounds like the teacher might have correctly identified your son's comfort level, but misjudged yours. It's a very fine line to walk, and I was never comfortable with the idea of doing this - which is in large part why I transferred out of that major.
    I think these are very good points. (I teach too.) I would, however, have a conference with the teacher. See what she says as you talk to her and go from there. Do tell her to speak to you and your husband directly rather than to your son.

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