Sunday, January 14, 2007

On over-involved parents, special treatment, and bratty kids

As I've mentioned before, we have a very active parent-teacher organization at our school. They do fantastic things for the kids, the teachers, and the community overall. We have parent volunteers in our building every day, and some of the mothers (it's rarely a father, which is a shame) are at school all day long, usually in our large group instruction room where they set up the holiday stores, prepare the care baskets at Christmas, do staff luncheons, etc. I'm not sure what they're doing in there all day, but apparently they don't have jobs or anything to do at home because they're here.

And they're causing problems.

Most of the mothers are fantastic, do their thing, let us do ours, and never meddle. In fact, we had the daughter of the PTO president last year and it was wonderful - she never questioned anything we did and never expected or demanded special treatment for her daughter. However, this year we have three mothers who think they run our classrooms and the school. And since all three of their children are spoiled brats who tend to have behavior issues, it's causing some major problems, not only for us, but for The Principal who's about ready to beat her head (or someone else's) against a wall.

Case in point. These three children, Spoiled Princess Girl (who's mother actually teaches at another school so isn't a volunteer, but meddles via email), Brat Boy, and Snarly Boy never, ever eat in the cafeteria with the other students. Instead, they go to the large group instruction room where Mrs. Brat boy and Mrs. Snarly Boy will have lunch, usually a hot meal from Ruby Tuesday, O'Charley's or somewhere like that, ready for them. Our school has always had a policy that parents can come and join their children for lunch (and many do), but most of them will actually eat in the cafeteria, maybe bring a pizza, and will invite their child's friends to join in. Not this clique. See, they're special. And it's even better when the mother that's been tasked with getting lunch is late, because then the kids have lunch late, and they go back to get it...late. There have been many times we've caught these three kids goofing off, unsupervised, in the LGI room, the administration has told the parents that they can't do that, but they ignore them and do it anyway.

And then they upped the ante. Over the past few months, instead of bringing lunch every day, they decide to check the kids out and take them out for lunch. Now, we only have a half hour for lunch, and these parents aren't about to go through a drive-through (interestingly, both Mr. Brat Boy and Mr. Snarly Boy own their own businesses so there's a bit more money available than most of our kids have in their lives). Instead, they take them out for a sit-down lunch which takes at least an hour, maybe more. This means that they miss the last half of fourth period with Mrs. Reading and Mr. Social Studies, and part of my class which is fifth period. (And yes, you can bet we're keeping track of these absences and late arrivals to class.)

Any idea on what kind of message this is sending to the kids?

It's interesting to hear the comments from the other kids regarding these special lunch arrangements. They are collectively referred to as "the PTO kids", and are considered popular although they are definitely not well-liked. The kids will openly say that they think the school has different rules for the PTO kids than they do for everyone else which drives the teachers on my team just absolutely nuts.

So it was wonderful when The Principal, after about the 20th conversation with these mothers, (who basically are ignoring her) told us she'd back us 100% on any behavior or discipline issues we had with these kids. Just be sure to document, document, document.

And it's turning out into all out war, especially between Mrs. Brat Boy and the World. In her words, he's just a being a boy, he's not a behavior issue, and it's just because we don't understand him. Uhm, let's see, he never turns in his work, won't open up his book (if he brings it), won't fill out his agenda, won't bring a pencil, and, because he's relatively smart, passes, barely with a D because he can test well. He also sits in isolation in most classes because he either won't shut up or he's picking on another kid. He's been earning a few stints in ISS for disrespect towards teachers, skipping class, and a few other stunts. His mother refuses to sign any of the discipline referrals because she doesn't "agree" with them. I've actually had several conversations with Mr. Brat Boy who's told me bluntly that he completely disagrees with his wife's ideas on discipline, and implied that the boys (there's a younger one as well) are causing a riff between the two of them.


Surly Boy isn't much better. He's unpleasant towards any adult in authority. He "lost" his agenda in October, and after about the third time of me asking his mother to please get him one, she told me that he had money to buy one for over a month. The next day I had him buy one and now he conveniently leaves it at home. He also refuses to have a binder because "it's stupid". Well, gee, it may be stupid, but according to the Director of Schools, it's required. Mrs. Snarly Boy came to my class last week to drop off Snarly Boy's books (which he leaves on the kitchen table several times a week) and I asked her to schedule a meeting with the team to talk about Snarly Boy's behavior, grades, and so forth. She vented to me that he's rude to her as well, she doesn't know what to do, blah, blah, blah (maybe not baby him by bringing him his books every day he leaves them and make him face the consequences?) She said she'd make sure to schedule a meeting because she could use our help. (It has yet to be scheduled.)

The last straw was this week when Mrs. Snarly Boy and Mrs. Brat Boy came to get their kids at lunch because they had to go on vacation to Gatlinburg. Mrs. Reading asked if Snarly Boy could wait just ten minutes as he had a test to take. No, she said, it was impossible to wait ten minutes. They had to go now. Mrs. Brat Boy, again, pulled her precious child out of ISS to reward him with a visit to Gatlinburg.

The Principal was livid.

Next week should be interesting.


EHT said...

I understand why you're upset and luckily your administrator is attempting to help you. In my county he wouldn't be passing with a D because we don't have them...anything below a 70 is an F.

Are the parents concerned at all about Ds? Does he have Ds in all of his classes? I believe if it was me I would conveniently arrange for a pop quiz, pop written assignment, anything where a grade can be taken the minute you know he's off with his "mommie". In this way maybe straight Ds will get the message to compute in Mom's head.

Does time out of class accumulate to add up to full absences? Does you county have a good policy concerning absences and time out of class equals "failing for the year"? Perhaps this will get their attention.

I was a PTA volunteer for years and I would have never done these types of things. I was there to volunteer...not disrupt. I never went into my child's room. I was always somewhere else and at lunch I stomached the lunchroom food like everyone else.

I'm sorry you are having a hard time. Don't give in!

Mrs. T said...

I'm sorry, I'm still hung up on elementary teacher's district- anything below 70 is an F? What the hell?
Mrs. Bluebird, these parents sound like a nightmare and the kids sound even worse. We can just hope they'll reap what they've sown.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

In our district anything below a 70 is an F. Brat Boy had a 71, by the skin of his teeth. Honestly, if he wasn't forced to work in ISS, he wouldn't have had that.

As for whether the parents are concerned? I don't think so. They certainly aren't in any hurry to talk to us about it. Brat Boy's mom just thinks he's going through a phase, his dad (who I've talked to) says he's lazy. They've created the monster and now don't know what to do.

The boys don't care because they figure they're going to go work for Daddy when they finish high school.

Anonymous said...

I empathize with you. We have had similar incidents at my school - though not to that degree. We definitely have parents who think their children shouldn't have to follow the rules. I have a very supportive administration and they back teachers (especially when we can support our actions).
We do not even allow allow outside food from restaurants to be brought in for student lunches and we do have a time out of school requirement (we count the mins a student is late or leaves early).
I hope your week goes well...

Pattyr said...

I have come across this looking for a solution to my problem.
I have a similar problem, except Brat Boy has two brothers, the older thankfully has now moved to middle school (couldn't have handled another year), and the younger is figuring out how to be worse but is only in 2nd grade so I still have the upper hand.
Mrs Brat Boy, wouldn't hear anything bad said about her darlings as it must be me, as no other teacher has ever said anything - they are too scared or weary as she has the mouth of the Grand Canyon and twists and manipulates ever word that was said. No surprise where the boys learnt such behaviour. Mrs Brat Boy set up a programme for the special ed that I teach, so Brat Boy frequently comments, 'well my mum set it up so I can ........' be as loud as I want, not do my work, bring my books, twist what you say in class to make you look bad, decide when to come or not to lessons, manipulate you so much that You have to write a completely new curriculum for the winter semester.!!

Felt good voicing it all.
Any suggestions would be great.

Frustrated and ready to quit;-(