A child gets in trouble at school for an infraction of the rules. Your child.
In communicating with other parents, you learn that the school is coming down on your child harder than others. What do you do?
Your child is being bullied or harassed by other students, your child is so upset that they are contemplating ending their life to escape the problem. What is your response?
In each case, though they are unique situations, you will need to talk to someone in a position of authority. As a father, your natural reaction will be to get upset or angry. How you react to the situation will determine in part, the level of success that you and your child will experience as a result.
In the first instance, get as much information about the alleged infraction as possible. Make sure that the school is talking with witnesses. If the school is unwilling to do this, you might ask about the level of punishment for the infraction. While you will want to back your child, naturally, it is necessary that you try to remain impartial. You need to look at the best possible outcome for the situation.
By reviewing the discipline, you can determine how hard you want to push the school for a policy or action change. Some things just aren’t worth the fight, and over time, you will learn which to fight for. If you can prove through communication with other parents that the school is not disciplining the students the same for like infractions, that is an actionable item. Talk to the senior administrator of the district. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to approach the school board. Either one can be intimidating.
In the second case where bullying or harassment is an issue you will need to be more forceful. In this instance, the first concern is the safety of the child. If the child has told someone or indicated that they are going to hurt themselves or worse, you need to get mental health professionals involved. Take your child to the nearest emergency room and explain the situation. Your child will likely spend a couple of days in the hospital under observation, but that is better than planning a funeral.
After your child is safe, then it is time to contact the school. Normal operating procedure for districts appears to be circle the wagons and defend the position of the district. They will do everything they can to not admit that there is an issue. You will want to tread lightly here, as you want the school on your side as much as possible. In part 2 of this article, we will discuss the steps to take to get them on your side or the side of your child.