Friday, October 07, 2011

When bullies get bullied

I've just returned from my daughter's school where web had a very lively discussion with the offending teacher from yesterday. Up front I will say that I intended to piss her off so I could see how she would react and then measure how her reaction coincided with my daughters description of how she acts in class. And, wouldn't you just know it....she acted just like my daughter said she would. Beautiful!

When we first got there the assistant principal said right off the bat that this teacher had received some emails asking for permission to use the restroom and that she, the teacher, felt it was harassment. I just nodded my head. I don't think it constitutes harassment. If you work in government or for government in some way, in this case she is a teacher and therefore a state employee, and you do something that outrages the public then they are perfectly within their rights to let you know about it. Her email address is public.

But anyway the asst. Principal said that his discussion with her had gone well and that she was sorry and so forth and so on. He said that, much to his surprise, she had even indicated a willingness to apologize to my daughter in front of the class. Her willingness to apologize implies guilt in my eyes. I told him that was fine but that I still wanted to have a chat with her. Then he invited her in. And things got complicated. Quick.

I don't remember exactly what I said first. I believe I asked her to explain to me why she felt the need to make such a big deal out of a request to use the restroom. I told her I could maybe understand her reaction if there was a history of my daughter abusing bathroom privileges. There isn't. And even if there was it would not excuse the teacher's behavior. Something to put her on the defensive for sure. Could have been the fact that I went in with the intent to handle things like a prosecutor. I deposed the defendant. Before the meeting I had my daughter write down everything she remembered from yesterday. I then proceeded to go down the list and ask the teacher if she had said those things.

"Did you tell my daughter that there is no way she had to use the restroom right after the bell rang but not before? If so, then explain how you are more attuned to her biological functions than she is?"

I asked her, "After my daughter returned from the restroom did you ask her in front of everyone if she knew how to use the bathroom?"

I asked her if after my daughter returned from the restroom and was obviously in the throes of a panic attack did she check on her or ask if she needed the nurse. She claims she did. My daughter says differently.

She denied saying any of that. Just flat denied it. Which is exactly what I expected. But she wasn't convincing.

At one point I asked her that after my daughter returned from the restroom did my daughter inform her that there should be an email in her box concerning restroom breaks? She said yes. I asked her if she then checked her email to confirm that and she said yes. I asked her if she, after reading the email, apologized to my daughter for her conduct and she said yes.

My daughter said no, that what actually happened was that the teacher subjected her to further ridicule in front of the class and even kept her after class to lecture her some more. Later on I brought the issue of the email up again and the teacher completely changed her story and denied that my daughter ever said anything about a possible email from the nurse. I reminded her that only a few minutes before she had answered yes to those questions. She denied ever answering yes.

Now, I may or may not have a recording of the entire exchange :) Plus, she said all of that in front of a witness.

I brought up previous incidents that my daughter has shared with me involving this teacher. Namely her propensity to invade personal space and take the liberty of touching my daughter. She likes to put her hand on the student's shoulders and squeeze. I explained that my daughter does not like to be touched if she hasn't invited anyone to touch her. Further, I told her that I see that form of touch as intimidation because it implies that someone else has physical power over your person. I informed her that she is never again to lay one finger on my daughter. She seemed very offended and put off and said, "Well I can promise you
that I will never touch her again!"

"Good then we understand each other," I said.

I then mentioned what my daughter told me a few weeks ago about an altercation she had with this teacher regarding an admission slip. After a student is absent, in order to get back into class, they have to have an admission slip from the office. The excuse for the absence had not made it to the office yet and my daughter thought it had to be there in order to be given an admission slip. When she tried to explain this to the teacher the teacher started her usual routine of ridicule and humiliation in front of the class.

When I asked the teacher if this happened she denied ridiculing my daughter and then immediately contradicted herself by saying out loud and in front of me, "I asked her how she ever made it to 9th grade without knowing what an admission slip is."

For the record my daughter is an honor student and unless it has changed very recently turning in admission slips has nothing to do with whether or not a student passes to the next grade.

Then I said, "And you don't think saying something like that in that manner and tone in front of the whole class is ridiculing or humiliating...condescending maybe? Hateful?"

She didn't. I opined that we obviously have very different views on what constitutes being ridiculing, humiliating, rude and hateful. It was beautiful for her to just come right out and be herself. It was exactly what I wanted her to do. Show her true colors.

Basically she claimed my daughter was rude and hateful and was lying about everything and that she herself was an unsoiled angel in all of this. I told her that I don't buy that because, as far as teachers go, I never get complaints about my daughter, that all I ever get is praise about how polite she is, how helpful she is, how mature she is, what a joy she is to have in class etc....

"Well she was rude to me," she said.

My daughter said, "I wasn't rude to you. I just asked for permission to go to the restroom and you blew up at me in front of the whole class."

Then this crazy whack job all of a sudden said to my daughter "I can still write you up right now!"

And boy howdy that did not go over well with me. I looked at her and said, "You do that but let me remind you that teachers no longer have tenure in Alabama."

She said, "Are you threatening me?" (Well, duh?)

My daughter piped up and said, "Well you just threatened me."

I couldn't believe the teacher was foolish enough to threaten my daughter with a write up a day after the fact and while we were sitting in the office discussing the teachers hateful nature and bullying ways. It was her final attempt to hang on to her imaginary authority. And it was a colossal mistake.

I said, "You can take it however you like...I'm merely pointing out the fact that you no longer have tenure and you'd do well to remember it."

At this point the assistant principal saw that there would be no resolution. He asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I wished to file a formal complaint and that I was prepared to take it to the top if the education food chain. He again mentioned that the teacher had offered to apologize in front of the class and did we still want that. Before I could say anything my daughter spoke up and said, "I don't want her apology because it wouldn't be sincere." I concurred and stated that her speaking some empty words would not prevent this from happening again. At the point the teacher got up and stormed out. It was hard to keep from giggling...but somehow I managed it.

During further discussion with the assistant principal he pointed out that I hadn't really been nice and had been more than a little provocative. I admitted to as much. My whole intention was to push the teachers buttons and see how she would react. And she did just what I thought she would. Fell right into my trap.

As we got up to leave he asked my daughter if she was checking in. I told him that she would not be checking in (she was very upset) and that she also wouldn't be marching with the band tonight, mainly for medical reasons. I said we would go around to the band room and let the instructor know and the assistant principal said, "Mrs. Nall after that confrontation I think it would be unwise for me to allow you to go anywhere on campus unsupervised." I found that highly amusing.

I held up my hands and said, "I am unarmed except for my tongue." But, in the end, I accepted his offer to inform the band instructor that my daughter would not be there tonight.

Now on Monday I have to go back to the school and start the formal complaint process. This isn't over. And while it may sound odd to some of you I must admit that I had more fun today than I've had in months. There is nothing quite as satisfying and getting to bully a bully. There is nothing like making someone lose their composure like I made that teacher lose hers. I really should have gone to law school.


Lane Holcombe said...

It's not too late for you and law school. And it would be not a minute too soon should you decide to follow up on that "threat." You surely have what it takes!

Either that or guard dog, but I think lawyering pays better than barking and growling :)

Anonymous said...

good for u loretta, boy howdy do u have what it takes

sixstring said...

Did you record this meeting?

Loretta Nall said...

Six string...maybe :)