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Surely you jest….

This whole situation with my son is ridiculous. It technically started when my daughter was going through all the trouble with the school this year. He was facing the same truancy issue she was when we kept them home. Come to find out – we know for a FACT it was a lie when they told us we could not withdraw her until they had the letter. They indeed were just using that to keep stacking up days. We could have taken her out the day the incident on the bus happened and had 30 days to enroll her somewhere else before being dragged into court. I KNEW I was reading the law right – I kick my own ass every single time I don’t follow my gut. *headdesk* I digress…

Anyways, they decided after it all went down, NOT to charge my son with truancy. However, when some of the plots were foiled against my daughter and some of their “power” taken away by them not getting their way with her counseling, we saw motions begin against my son. (If you recall she has a counselor that has seen her through this last several years of BS – her brother has even had a sibling session). Suddenly right before Christmas break – like the final week before – my son’s Spanish teacher calls out of the blue and tells my husband Bubba is failing Spanish, that he has been showing signs of “depression” and they were sending home paperwork recommending a program for him; “did we want to start him immediately or after break?” I’m livid when I get the message from my hubby, no one called me at HOME, instead, they call him at work to talk to him about MY son. As soon as Bubba hits the door I ask him about it. He tells me that she told him the same thing. I ask how it is possible when he just brought a progress report home a few days before and he wasn’t failing? He didn’t know. He just let her tell him that and didn’t ask for clarification. *sigh* Then she tells him there is nothing he can do to pass – including the final. So he doesn’t. Seems this was another lie…..

I left a few messages with a few different people before break but no one bothered to return my calls. Then no one called after break either. In fact, no one called until I called the high school mid-week and asked to speak with the vice principal Mr. Swafford. Now, I like this guy so far. I’ve spoken to him a few times and we’ve had a positive interaction each time. He seemed shocked they had spoken to my son before even calling me and apologized they called his step-father instead of me, his mother. He assured me he would get to the bottom of it and would let me know what is being done. ETA: He also told me he would put the “word out to everyone we were refusing counseling”.

Instead, I get a call from the counselor. She doesn’t say she has talked to the vice principal, she says she is calling to talk about the message I left her. Even when I tell her she isn’t the only one I left a message with she hems and haws and denies any knowledge of anything else. She can’t answer me why they didn’t call me first, why they spoke to him before me, why no one called me back, why no one else has ever said anything like this about my son, why his coach who would know him best hasn’t raised questions….I start getting pissed. She keeps asking these little confused, lost sounding questions like “you don’t have any questions about the program?” Me: Uhhh no, I researched and found out all I needed to know and we are not interested…..“so if someone is concerned about your son they have to call you first?” I’m like what part of “Yes, he is a minor” does this chick not get? I informed her she would speak to his parents or his attorney first from this point on was that clear enough for her? She yes ma’am-ed me. LOL But WAIT it gets better…..

The NEXT day I call to talk to the v-p again only this time he doesn’t call, my sons’ Spanish teacher Mrs. West does. She tells me this whole spiel about a troubled, mean, withdrawn, socially inept kid… I’m sitting on the other end of the phone wondering if she has the right house and child. I even told her she was describing a stranger – that he was never this way at home or outside the school. That he spoke with adults and kids of all ages and I was often complimented about it. That HE was the one to pull the kid on the edges of the crowd in by going over, introducing himself and chatting with them like they are normal…..because they ARE. She told me he didn’t even bother with the final, like she gave him any reason to. (yes he got a stern talking to over her making a fool of him like that). She exaggerated certain things, left others out and flat out misrepresented the rest. She didn’t miss a beat when I told her it was a school problem not a social problem – that this was the result of everyone’s mom/uncle/cousin/sibling/brother’s/next-door-neighbor getting involved in a “feud”. Glossed right the hell over that road mine. Problem she had…..my son and I talk….about EVERYTHING. Even if no one will talk about my son’s “one hallway” problem. I already knew the whole, REAL story of what occurred in each situation she tried to use. She also throws in the name of my son’s coach (which is the first mention -and only after I said it first…) These people keep underestimating who they are dealing with. Then she dropped the nuke…..Asperger’s.

Everything screeched to a halt with that word! INSTANTLY! I immediately insisted that we have a meeting with all his teachers. She backtracked saying she “hoped she was able to attend” and started being all “I hope you don’t feel this is malicious or anything” and I told her I did (but odd phrasing right?!). She gave me the “I’m sorry you feel that way spiel” that she was “just concerned and really cares about my kid, says how smart he is etc” . Listen chick, you don’t get to drop a word like Asperger’s, say crazy shit about my child and then stroll off saying you hope you can be there to help figure it all out….

I called the school and left a message for the Superintendent. The person who called me back was Mr. Cox – he and I have had a few talks already. So yeah. There is a meeting scheduled Monday, AFTER school hours so we won’t be rushed with EVERYONE. First and Second Semester teachers – so his Spanish teacher doesn’t have to miss out after all (lol), principal/vice-principal, a Superintendent Dr. Bell, the counselors, our son and us of course. They tried to pass me off on P/T conferences – I said we didn’t want to be time limited. They tried to have Dr. Bell sit out since it was Dr. Jones who knew the case – I said since he was out on medical leave Dr. Bell should just sit in so we have it covered. NOTHING will be left to chance. I’m going to nip this in the bud.

Of course there is more to say but there are details I’d rather sit on till after we talk. After all, a good poker player never tips their hand….

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”

Today was rough, I’m not going to lie my friends…it makes a body feel hopeless and more than a little like giving up. I sat here thinking thru my life and pondered over all the tough shit I’ve lived through but could not think of a single thing (no matter how shocking) that hurt my heart and soul more than what we are struggling with right now. I’d DIE for these kids and to have my hands tied, to be turned away by everyone I’ve asked to help my daughter and to be told there is nothing to be done now….I die a little inside every time.

I have called/contacted anyone and everyone we could think of – from local to federal and back again. I’ve contacted as many bullying organizations that I can as well. The answer is always the same – that isn’t our jurisdiction but I can refer you to someone. After a few weeks of that, the list started to peter out and it was more like “sorry we can’t do anything” or “gee you should have started with law enforcement three years ago”. Now we are lucky if anyone bothers to call us back.

Today I got a letter from the District Attorney for our area. It said a whole lot of nothing so I decided to call the office to clarify. Here is that letter: 

 

Firstly the lady who answered the phone was pretty snotty. Secondly, she was very unhelpful. When I finally found out they were all in court I asked her if there was anyone else who I could speak with and gave a brief description. She said no. So I told her I had no problem calling the other local office and if they couldn’t help me I would go back up the chain to Washington. She wanted to keep telling me what they couldn’t do and interrupting me so I asked her if she would just please send me to voicemail and I would leave him a message and make my other calls. She finally did so and I called the other DA office as soon as I got off the phone. While the other woman was very nice, she told me that office was in court as well, but offered me the name of the guy there I should speak with and I left him a message as well.

Mister Drew Robinson, the Assistant DA, finally called me back around noon. As our conversation progressed I became more and more frustrated with his attitude. He told me that there was nothing the DA could do unless charges had been filed by the school or law enforcement – they don’t get involved until that point. He wanted to keep insinuating there was no ‘official’ problem and when I mentioned the two suicides this year, he denied any knowledge of the two young people in the same school district who had taken their lives this year due to the bullying issue in our schools. He also said there must not have been any solid evidence or proof if nothing had ever come of our complaints to the school.

I asked what the recourse was if the school had dropped the ball or refused to press charges and explained that the police/state troopers had told me on two separate occasions they couldn’t file charges or didn’t see where either side could. Nothing, was the answer he gave me. In order to clear any ambiguity I asked him “so if the school has destroyed or failed to maintain records of these incidents, there is absolutely nothing I can do?” and he said that was indeed the case. I asked him then if that meant there was no protection for these children, that the school could do whatever they wanted to and he definitely skated around directly answering me. Did repeat what he said about something having to be filed in court before any action on their part but when I told him that one family was already filing suit, he seriously dared to say that there must have been some sort of compelling evidence or proof in that case. I said “yes, a dead body, does my daughter have to die too for us to get help?” Completely silent on his end before launching back into his run-around speech. When he got back around to there not being a systematic issue here, I pinned him down with the fact that the superintendent – Dr. James Jones himself has said, on camera, in several of the news reports locally, there IS an issue but they’re “working on it”.

Even when I told him they were attempting to charge her with assault and that she was put on real deal probation without conviction, trial or charges he seemed unconcerned. He actually said there must have been a reason……we should have spoken with an attorney. I told him we DID have an attorney so he tried to lay blame on him saying he must have made a deal behind our back basically. When I informed him that was not the case, that we walked in and that is what they presented to us. I even told him the judge must have felt it wasn’t serious enough to warrant pursuit and decided to offer us the 6 month deferral of it so they can verify, no she ISN’T a troublemaker. When time is up and there isn’t any issues, they have to drop it and it will be expunged…..provided they don’t pull another one of their dirty tricks.

The DA (who by the way, never even indicated they were involved or bothered to call our attorney back before court) was the one who insisted on probation, in fact they flat refused to do anything without her having to report. They wanted to send her to teenage character classes (the judge refused) and kept trying to insist when that did not happen, as well as the fact that they wanted to make her go to their counselor even though she has been seeing an excellent one since the bullying issue began. In fact, I put her in counseling after that little pervert touched her the first time and told her he would do it whenever he wanted. The judge again refused them after I explained she has been seeing someone regularly for a while now and she would be much more comfortable with him. So they lost on that front too. Y’all would seriously freak if I told you what probation entails as far as the “rules”. I also have to prove she is progressing in school, even though TN no longer has jurisdiction over her schooling, as well as prove she is seeing a counselor and making positive progress there too. Basically I cannot let her go anywhere without me being there because I don’t trust them not to pull some BS because they didn’t get what they wanted. I REFUSE to back down or be afraid of these petty little tyrants.

I also did not get any sufficient response on the fact that the investigator, Calvin Lockholt, the DA sent out here did not speak to us, my daughter or even look at what evidence we DO have. He just stopped by the Sheriff’s office, listened to some nasty gossip and left. Then never bothered to call us back. He wanted to tell me he explained all this in his letter and I told him he didn’t, it said a whole lot of nothing. So after being told for the billionth time there would be no help I told him that yes, I guess I did need to leave a message with Mr. Lockholt and he told me he would do so. Now ask me if I believe him…..

I’m sorry I was ever reasonable with this school system. I hate that I didn’t call the cops the first time and every time after that. I didn’t want to be THAT parent….but turns out, you have to be that parent. They will lie right to your face and then do everything they can to protect their own asses, jobs and the gravy train they ride. If you think they care about your kids you are sorely mistaken. I’m begging you all, please don’t be the nice parent!! Get everything in writing, get copies of what they are “promising” to do, get copies of any video and do NOT let them tell you they can’t – that it is protected under FERPA because it is NOT. Make them send you a report saying how they handled it and specifically what they are doing to ensure it does not happen again. Don’t let them sweet talk you or make you feel like you are being completely OCD!! If you have a meeting where notes are taken, make sure you get a copy of what they write as well or they might “accidentally” lose proof you ever had any issues. Whenever an issue happens, take notes on what happened, what was said, who you talked to, the date, the time, what they plan to do and the names of who was involved. If your child is old enough, have them write down what happened in their own words. Then make sure you follow up until they give you an answer on the issue. Even if the school refuses to charge the bully – you can go to the courthouse yourself and file papers. They don’t tell you that fact either. Don’t let them brush you off or say there isn’t anything to charge anyone with.

I hate that they can shatter our lives with a lie and walk away. I hate that we are on the losing end and we are the victims here. I loathe small town politics and power families who think they can’t be touched. I’m not saying that ALL teachers and ALL public schools are bad – but the system is definitely broken and instead of serving families and children – most only serve themselves.

crying liberty

Hug your babies close tonight, say a little prayer or send some good mojo our way, and please listen to what your kids aren’t telling you about between the words as they tell you about their day. Everyone likes to brush off bullying as a harmless childhood occurrence we cannot stop but it KILLS and destroys the lives of innocent children and families. From my family to yours – many blessings – Namaste my warrior friends. Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed.