Most people want better for their children. Better jobs, better life, better experience in school.
Past Repeats Itself
But when you get that news that your child is going through the same thing that you did in school, it hits you in the gut like a ton of bricks. All of the flashbacks, triggering memories that you thought would never resurface.
Growing up you always wanted to believe that when a school says “We will not tolerate any type of bullying.” But that never was and never will be the truth. We always trust that the school, whose job it is to protect children’s minds as well as their bodies, will be doing that job. So it turns into a huge disappointment when that does not happen.
When I was younger, I was teased a great deal. Luckily it never got physical, but I was called names on a daily basis. Names that no one should ever have to be called. So of course, when I found out that my oldest boy was dealing with the same thing, it crushed me.
Not In My Lifetime
Never in a million years did I ever think that my boys would have to deal with something so horrible. It started when E began attending Challenger Middle School, here in Glendale AZ, during the 2014-2015 school year. It started with simple things such as name calling in class.
I was promised it was being handled and there was nothing to worry about. So hoping for the best, I let the school handle the bullying. And for a short time, it did, in fact, get better. But it didn’t stay that way for very long.
For that and the following year, it stayed mostly with name calling. There were only a few situations of shoving. It appeared to be taken care of without issue, so we didn’t put a second thought to it.
The following year, we saw an increase in physical issues and less cooperation from the school. It was made very apparent that the school at this point was not wanting to deal with it. Not wanting to have a big deal made either.
We began what would be a long uphill battle that to this day is still going. The end of the 2016-2017 school year and all of the 2017-2018 school year have been nothing but torture.
Enough Is Enough
As the 2016-2017 school year progressed, we started hearing about more issues involving physical altercations with E at school. The first couple of times, the Assistant Principal seemed to be concerned with the issues taking place and dealing with them. That lasted all of about a week.
After that, any time I had to either talk to Mr. Horstman on the phone or go into the office to speak with him, he began blaming E for all of the situations that happened and called him the aggressor. I would try and speak against him, he became very angered and would try his hardest to intimidate me.
At first, it worked, after a while, it became repetitive. I got sick of E being blamed for everything and stood my ground. This is where it became more intense and harder to deal with. As you might put it, someone decided to up the ante.
You Can’t Do That
August 2017, the start of what we were hoping to be a semi-normal school year, but oh boy were we wrong. We started with the normal verbal arguments and handled them as they came.
It was the first week of October that things really blew up. E had his phone out on the playground (yes, he did get in trouble for that) taking pictures (selfies) and a female student assumed that he was taking pictures of her.
So she and two other male students took it upon themselves to try and get E’s phone from him. In the process, E tried to defend himself and pushed the female student’s hand away, he ended up getting pushed into the play structure.
He had a concussion, a gash in his ear and bruised ribs. Yet the school tried to blame E, even after proof was given. The only student to get any kind of punishment was the female student, and that was largely in part to her admitting she had pushed him, and us making such a big deal about the situation.
This Is Getting Old
The next day, there was continued issues. I was driving toward Challenger to pick up E and his brother J. As I come to the stop sign, E comes running to the car. One of his main bully’s asked to speak with me. I saw no issue in giving him a chance to express himself. He was honestly respectful until more student gathered around and started calling E names, threatening to beat the adults in the vehicle.
As we made multiple attempts at getting E back into the car, the other students tried to surround me. It was a good twenty minutes in before anyone from the school showed up, and another five minutes before the police showed up. The police made an informational report and told us to follow up with the school in the morning.
When following up with the school, I was told that they did not have enough proof nor information to make any kind of discipline decisions on the students that were involved. We were advised by the school to leave the issue alone and it should resolve itself over the fall break.
The Neverending Cycle
Fall break was a great deal of stress, being afraid of going to school, worries about if E was going to be safe at school. We spent the entire week trying to prepare him for going back to school which was not easy. It was a lot of fighting tooth and nail to get him to get up Monday morning for school.
No child should ever be fearful of going to school. Not even one full day back, and there were issues of bullying. E just couldn’t win. A few of the male students chose to harass E about what happened before the break, also choosing to assault him again.
At this point, I called the police to the school. After speaking with E and myself, the officer told me that he would need to speak with the other students involved.
I was told the next day that it was officially a “he said, he said” situation and that I was still more than welcome to follow through with the report, but it was extremely unlikely that it would go any further. So not really wanting to waste time on something that was not going to go anywhere, I told both Mr. Horstman and Ms. Molina that I wanted to speak with the district because this was a load of crap.
Safety Plan My Ass
Because I made such a big fuss, the school, as well as the district, put E on a safety plan. Something that was supposed to keep him safe and out of harm’s way. When this came into effect, it was agreed upon that E would have a staff member following him to make sure that nothing happened.
I had to pick him up semi-early that day. When I arrived, I was told by the staff who was to be following E, she didn’t know where he was. Excuse me what?!?! You lose my child and then blame him? Are we grown or just trying to act it? After that issue, I was given a hard copy of the “safety plan” the plan in which the school isolates E instead of dealing with the bullies.
Not How It’s Supposed To Be
We told him that this is one of the only options that we have at the moment and he needs to make the best of it. All the while, I was fighting back tears because I knew exactly what the school was doing. In E’s IEP meeting (yes he is considered special needs) Mr. Horstman did not like the fact that I had brought up that he and his staff were not doing their jobs to keep E safe and that it was having a huge impact on E’s school work.
How in the world do you expect a child to be able to learn when he is in constant fear? Most people would say that they don’t. Not, Challenger, they see nothing wrong in how they handle bullies.
Yet, I wish I could say that our family is the only one that has gone through it. I know of at least eight other families that have either moved their children to different schools or homeschooling because the issues were never addressed by the school nor the district.
From the point of that meeting, it seemed almost as if the school staff was now targeting E and doing all that they could to make his life at school that much harder. Ignoring calls and emails attempting to bring issues to their attention. Then being told when I bring it to their attention while we are face to face that they have no evidence and that no one has brought it to their attention that it has been going on.
Are You Serious?!
But the final straw and what has pushed us to call the school out anywhere and everywhere is the fact that we had an incident in which E was pushed back into the restroom while attempting to return to class by another student that had been bullying him. That student continued to push E while he tried to leave. E was finally able to get him out of the way and return to class. But the situation was far from over.
Both boys were in the hallway getting ready to go into the band room for their final class of the day. When they entered, the teacher was nowhere to be found. The other student kept smacking E in the neck and called him a “beaner.” So, of course, E was upset at this point and had dealt with enough. He pushed the other student off of him and called him a “cracker” (yes very inappropriate and was dealt with).
After school, the students chose to continue the fight outside of the gates in the parking lot. Yes, punches were thrown and E was suspended for it. Mind you as far as we were told the other students involved did not receive any type of punishment for their part.
But back to the day of the incident, E’s aunt and uncle had gone to the school. Before they could fully get out of the car, two students charged the vehicle in an attempt to hurt E. I was able to raise enough hell that E was able to be taken home.
You Are Out Of Order
The following day, Ms. Molina called me to tell me that I needed to meet with her at the school that afternoon. I agreed. When I arrived, I was told that E started this entire situation. Because of this, he would be suspended.
I was also told that E had called the other student names. Yet nothing was said about what the other student had said or done. Nor an explanation as to why there were no teachers in the band room with the students. We agreed that E would be suspended and we requested that E be able to retrieve his backpack from his classroom. Upon that agreement, another staff member went with him to pick up his belongs.
When they got back, we all realized that E had forgotten his binder so he needed to go back to the class and get it. While this took place, another male student made a choice to push E’s buttons and E said things that he shouldn’t have.
The other male student chased him down the hallway and pushed him. E got up and ran to the principal’s office where the other boys chose to barge in without knocking. All that happened to them as they were sent back to class.
At this point, the system has failed E and J both. I have been left with no choice but to begin starting the homeschooling process. After E’s last suspension, students started bullying J. Taking his lunch and pushing him.
This is the type of thing that gets people to lose all sense of reality. And in major cases, get fed up to the point that they either shoot up the school or they figure they have no other way out and commit suicide.
My E and J will not get to that point. Let’s get this out like wildfire and hopefully change how the system handles things.