I haven’t written for a while because I’ve been so bummed out. Keep thinking it’ll get better but it hasn’t so far.
First off, I’ve been run ragged trying to keep up with school. We had Open House which gave us a 13 hour day, followed by a couple of days when I had doctor’s appointments and then, last Monday was the real kicker. Jake got in big trouble at school and I’ve been angry ever since.
Last summer, when we took the boys on vacation and they wanted to visit all those battlefields…Andrew bought a paperweight that looked like a grenade. Except that it says, all across the front of it, “This item is a paperweight. NOT a weapon.” Yeah, you guessed it, Jake took it to school. So here we have this great eleven year old kid on the honor roll, the advanced program, the math team and the quick recall team and he’s never been in trouble for anything in school. So what did they do? They expelled him from school. Yeah, you heard me…they expelled him.
I was shocked. No one at school would even talk to me about it. They treated him like a common criminal. I did find out, from the teacher, that Jake was showing it to one of his friends and she said, “Jake, what do you have?” and he told her, “It’s a fake grenade my cousin bought. It’s not real but it looks like it.” The teacher called security to escort him to the office. She said she thought they would take it away from him and read him the riot act for bringing it to school. She was just as shocked as I was that they would respond the way they did.
As I said, no one would even tell me what was going on. I always take Jake home and the AP told me he was in trouble and he’d have to call his parents. I said, “What did he do? Is he alright?” and he assured me that he was fine and told me it wasn’t anything that I needed to be involved in. Told me it was nothing personal but they would have to contact David or Stacy about it. Said there are certain policies that they have to follow that don’t allow for any compromise. The next thing I knew, the AP was calling Stacy and David to get up to the school. They couldn’t get David because his cell phone wasn’t working right but they called Stacy at work and she had to come to pick up Jake. They told her that he was expelled and would have to make an appointment with a psychologist and they would be sending him to an alternative school for students who are a threat to themselves or others.
I didn’t find out what was going on until I got home that day and David was able to contact DIL to get the details. He was livid. And, by the way, so was I.
Are you f*cking kidding me???? The kid is ELEVEN years old.
And they know him. In the afternoons when I’m tied up with meetings or parents or just trying to grade papers, Jake runs errands for the office staff while he’s waiting for me. They all know him personally. It’s not like they’re dealing with an unknown entity. They send him running all over the building making deliveries and he feels like a big shot and thinks it’s a privilege that they truat him to help out.
I tried to call to ask him exactly what happened and he was crying so hard I couldn’t understand anything he said. He didn’t understand exactly what he’d done that was so bad and all he knew was that he was expelled from school and wouldn’t be able to attend school where I work anymore and wouldn’t go to school with his friends anymore but would have to go to a different school for bad kids.
I was totally PISSED! He was treated like a common criminal. I fired off the following email to the AP:
Had I known how serious the problem with Jake was, I would have been much more vocal yesterday afternoon. As it is, I didn’t realize until David told me the consequences.
Needless to say, I am totally shocked. According to Stacy, Jake has been kicked out of Moore, expelled for six days and ordered to make arrangements to attend an alternative school for students who are disciplinary problems. I’m assuming this is the situation.
Jake is 11 years old. He has never been written up for anything and is not a threat to anyone at Moore or any other school. We will NOT be sending him to “an alternative school for students with disciplinary problems”. If necessary, we will send him to a private school. He is a great kid who did something stupid and should be disciplined as such. Not as a threat to the safety of other students. I tried to talk to him last night to find out what happened but he was crying so hard I couldn’t understand anything he said. Jake loves Moore and is an asset to our student body. Quite frankly, Moore is lucky to have him and I’m very upset that he has been treated as if he deliberately did something so attrocious that he should not be allowed to interact with other students and attend our school.
We will be contacting our attorney tomorrow and starting the appeal process immediately.
I sent this email to the AP who handled the situation and cc’d the principal. The next morning, my classroom phone rang and a member of the administration said, “Pat, this call didn’t take place. I just want to assure you that we have to go through this process with Jake but we have no intention of sending him to an alternative school. I’ve already contacted the people who will be handling this and told them we definitely want Jake back at Moore. He’s a great kid who made a mistake. Again, this call didn’t take place but I don’t want you to worry about it. He’s going to be fine.”
At first, I was happy. Then, I wasn’t. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I mean, if you know Jake is a great kid and this whole incident was just because he didn’t understand the implications of bringing a fake weapon to school, why would you put him through this?
I kept thinking about how hard he was crying and how he kept telling me he didn’t know he couldn’t bring it to school and he’d do anything to keep from having to attend a school for bad kids and my blood started to boil. I get threatened at least once a year. Sometimes, two or three times a year. Those threats are supposed to be taken seriously but nothing happens because we know the kids who act that way. Know that they’re just venting and letting off steam and they’re not REALLY going to do anything. So, if we make exceptions for those kids, why don’t we make exceptions for Jake and the kids like him? I guess we figure the really good kids can handle it. They’ll pick themselves up and get back in the game.
I got off work at 2:30 and I drove to Frankfort. Got a copy of my retirement papers. I decided to wait at least a week before filling them out. I was so ready to just take a month’s worth of sick days and be done with it. Now it’s been almost a week and I’ve reconsidered. I don’t do things like that. I would never finish up my career by doing something that I consider underhanded. Still, I came pretty close. Last Tuesday, they asked if I was going to handle the Highview Festival for the school again this year and I said, “No.” On Wednesday, they asked if I would work the Showcase of Schools like I usually do and I told them “No.” No reasons, no excuses, just “No.”
In the meantime, Jake has missed a week of school so far. He’s seen the child psychologist who said he’s not a threat to himself or others. Just a kid who made a mistake just like any other 11 year old might do. I haven’t seen him this week. DIL blames me for a lot of what happened. Seems to think I could have done something and didn’t. I can’t say I blame her. As much as I’ve done at school, I would have thought they would have handled things differently. DIL thinks that Jake shouldn’t even return to the school where I work because of how he was treated. I can’t say I disagree. And Jake, as much as he enjoys the school and his friends, doesn’t want to come back to Moore. He’s been humiliated and feels ashamed and doesn’t want to have to face everyone after his expulsion is taken care of and he’s readmitted.
What have we done to kids? How do we take a great kid who works hard and loves school and make him feel like some kind of criminal for doing something that any eleven year old might do. We’ve robbed kids of so much of their childhoods. We don’t do Halloween or Christmas anymore. Force them to wear uniforms so they look like everyone else and treat an eleven year old like a deranged terrorist. This isn’t the educational system I signed up for.