Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fixing Other People's Kids

As I've mentioned earlier, we're getting a lot of new kids in the building this year, including a lot from out of state.  The Guidance Goddess has been swamped with new registrations, contacting previous schools for records, and just processing all these new kids.

Busy as she is, she knew something was amiss when she called a school in a Northern State to request records for two girls who had landed in our building and they laughed at her.  "Oh dear!" was the hysterical response, "They ended up with you!  Good Luck!! You'll need it!"  Hysterical laughing all around in the background.

This is not a good sign.

The younger sister was on Mrs. Eagle's team and on the first full Monday of school, essentially our 3rd day, she asked permission to go to the bathroom and then didn't come back.  Her teacher did an APB (we send out these emails all day long to the school at large looking for kids who should be with us but aren't, and aren't on the absence list) and she was found in one of the bathrooms with her sister, an 8th grader.  Back to class she was sent where she stomped in, threw her notebook on the ground, and shoved a kid.  When her teacher picked up the notebook to give it back, she realized that it was full of a lot of really inappropriate comments and writing and turned that over to the administration along with the write up for the skipping, and shoving.

Giving the young lady, who we'll call Skipper Girl, the benefit of a doubt, I was informed by Mrs. Sparrow that they wanted to give her a fresh start so she was moving to my team and my homeroom.  She had to, however, finish a stint in in-school suspension first.

To make a really long story short, she and her sister (because they are joined at the hip and if one gets in trouble the other one does as well) got suspended from ISS for attempting to flee the building and the school grounds (which sent our Sheriff Reserve Officer and administrators running across the parking lot to catch them).  Then mom said they were both going to be out for ten days due to chicken pox (although their records, which arrived a day later, indicated they'd both already had chicken pox).  Then mom said, no, she didn't say they had chicken pox, but that we'd said they couldn't enroll until their records come.  (Which is funny because I have an email from mom about the chicken pox and we always enroll kids without their records, and when these girl's records came, they were huge!)  Then they came back, had to go to ISS, got suspended again for trying to leave the building and swearing at The Principal, then came back.  In addition for their trying to leave the building and roaming the halls trying to locate each other, Skipper Girl and her sister like to curse and insult the adults, including the administrators, in our building.  The situation is so nuts with these two that the front office has radio codes for each girl so they can let people know when they're on the lose.

Now, keep in mind.  This kid is in my homeroom and I haven't even SEEN her.

After about 4 weeks of this on and off suspension thing I get a call from the front office asking if Skipper Girl is in my classroom.  "Uh, no, I haven't seen her," I said.  "I don't even know what she looks like.  Isn't she supposed to be in in-school suspension?"

"No, they don't want her out there anymore, and she needs to be in class, so she's supposed to be with you," said the Front Office.

At this time, I look at my door and see a skinny little blonde in the hallway.  "Are you Skipper Girl?" I ask her.  She nods, and I wave into the room and sit her down.  "She's here," I tell them.

I get her seated, get her my new student paperwork, and get her caught up, best I can, on the assignment the kids are working on.  She sits down, doesn't make a peep, and gets to work.  A few minutes later the phone rings.  It's the Front Office.  The Attendance Lady from Central Office wants to talk with Skipper Girl.  So, off she goes.  Except she doesn't come back.  She takes herself out to the in-school suspension building.  Mrs. Saint, the teacher out there, calls me and asks me to open my back door and make sure Skipper Girl comes back to class.  (Apparently Skipper Girl doesn't want to be in a classroom with the other kids.)  She comes back, class ends and off she goes.

That day she made it through 3rd period, 4th period, and in 5th had a blow up with another girl and threatened to beat her up.  The other girl is mystified by this because She Was Just Sitting There Minding Her Own Business (for once.)  Mrs. Social Studies called the office, they said to hang on to Skipper Girl until the class change (since Mrs. Social Studies had moved her into a corner away from everyone which seemed to make her happy) and they'd deal with her then.  Off she goes to 6th period except she just kept walking on out of the building, with Mrs. Sparrow and Officer Cool chasing after her.

Suspended.  Again.

At this point, the kid has been here for four weeks and had racked up 110 discipline points.  She was on the fast track to alternative school.

So.  A parent meeting is set up to decide on Skipper Girl's placement.  The entire team is there.  The administrators are there.  The school psychologist is there and there's even a psychologist from Central Office there.  Mom is there, along with her sister and her sister's baby (why, I have no idea except mom wanted them there).  We have people from guidance.  Mom has a government advocate from social services or something.  In short, we have about 20 people at this meeting to decide if Skipper Girl is going to go to alternative school.

The meeting starts late because Mom doesn't show up on time.  Apparently she was downtown enrolling another child, a high school student, in our school for severely emotionally disturbed children, after she had been expelled from the high school.

Really.  You can't make this stuff up.

So we have the meeting.  Mom basically says that Skipper Girl is really bright, has no problems academically, but she needs a special placement due to emotional issues. It is, after all, OUR job, according to mom, to "fix my daughter."  Problem is, we don't have a single piece of documentation from a doctor that says the kid actually has something going on with her emotionally, so we have to treat her as we would any other child.  Mom says that she doesn't understand why her daughter doesn't want to go to school, but school is obviously a trigger, and she also doesn't like the fact that we get our Sheriff to track her down. At this point the principal makes a comment that mom is lucky that we haven't called 911 and had the kids arrested for disturbing the peace based on their behavior.

That shuts mom up for a minute.

The psychologists asks for input from the teachers.  Now keep in mind, this is about 5 weeks into the school year.  We go around the table.  I start.  I mention that I've had Skipper Girl in my room for 20 minutes total so I can't really tell them anything.  Mrs. Social Studies and Mrs. Reading mention that they've had her for one period.  Mr. Math and Mrs. Grammar say they haven't even met the child.

The lady from Central Office, the Psychologist, and the government advocate all seem a bit taken aback by that.  I honestly don't think they really realized how little this kid has been in our classrooms until they actually heard it from us.

At this point, I look at the clock and ask if they really need us anymore as we have classes starting.  The Principal sends us on our way.  Thank Goodness.  Because that meeting lasted for three hours!

I got word later that many of the folks in the meeting felt that mom wasn't being honest with us about her situation and her kids.  She was really vague in areas, kept mentioning that the kids had PTSD, but never would say why, then would claim that all these problems just happened since they'd moved Down South (but the files from the other schools say otherwise.)  The end result was that Skipper Girl got sent to alternative school, and surprisingly, she's actually showed up and registered down there.  Although truth be told, she probably won't last and will get expelled considering her fondness for threatening other kids and skipping out.  She'll threaten the wrong kid.

The older sister was withdrawn from school and mom is going to home school her.

What's really scary is that out of the three kids we know about (there are more, believe it or not), not one of them is a typical, normal kid.  One is obviously very emotionally disturbed to the point that she's in a special school (Skipper Girl and her sister did tell the guidance staff that they had an older sister who was crazy).  The other two can't/won't stay in school.

And mom thinks it's OUR job to fix her kids.


R2P2 said...

This truly breaks my heart -- though I'm sure if she were my student, it would be equally balanced with frustration. But from the outside, all I can see is a kid screaming "I want attention! I need love!" I do sincerely hope the alternative school gives her the structure and confidence she needs. Clearly the family structure is so completely disjointed, you can't help but feel she has the odds stacked against her. That is heartbreaking.

Rachel said...

Sadly it sounds like you all are more likely to fix them than the mom is--looking at her track record and all.

ChiTown Girl said...

Wow, you just described about 75% of the kids at my last school. Man, am I glad to be out of there. These kids don't stand a chance when they have parents like these. There's only so much we can do to "fix" them for the few hours a day we have them, and THAT'S if they even come to class! God bless you for being such a dedicated teacher.

Snippety Gibbet said...

And we're the ones held accountable for the test results of all students. Hard to imagine being the one held accountable for whatever is happening in this child's life.

Darren said...

There's so much wrong there that I don't even know where to start. And when *I* am speechless--wow!

The Bus Driver said...

The sad thing is, these are the parents who show up in court years later wondering why their kid is in trouble yet again, except their kid committed murder.