I thought the first time my daughter got in trouble at school, my heart would break. Then I remembered all the times I got in trouble at school. We fought long and hard against her battle with ADHD, and finally, my husband and I decided it was time to try medication. TA-DA!!! What a huge difference! Her personality has not changed at all! Yet, she is able to explain herself, focus on school work, and even answer her teachers without having a panic attack about all the thoughts going on in her head. I cannot put into words how happy I am for her, and how PROUD of her I am!
But, a little over a week ago, I got a call from my daughter crying. She wanted me to come pick her up from school, and I asked why. She told me that her assistant principal wouldn’t let her sit with her friends at lunch, and she didn’t know what she did wrong. She told me when she asked, he told her it was none of her business, and to just move. Then she informed me she left to go to the nurses office to take her afternoon med dose. Well, lets me honest, some kids will just tweak things the way they want to get their way. If she wanted me on her side, she had to make it look like she didn’t do anything wrong, and like an adult was punishing her for so reason (yes, this has happened).
About an hour later, her assistant principal called. He was calling to tell me she had received a one day suspension. My first thought was, “Oh no, what did she do?”, my second thought was “Please God, tell me she didn’t hurt another student…” So, I asked, “Why?” and the answer I received left me speechless.
“She is being suspended because she left the cafeteria without my permission.” What? I’m sorry, did I hear you right? Your suspending her for walking out of the lunch room? She leaves the lunch room EVERY DAY after she eats, to take her medication. So please, tell me why today is different? I asked a few questions about the seating issue, and why she was asked to move. Come to find out, moving seats had nothing to do with HER, it was two of the other girls; their parents did not want those two girls sitting together, so he asked the entire table to move, so as the other girls would not be singled out. He told me that after she had moved to another table, she got up and left the room. He didn’t have time to go after her, but she would be getting a one day suspension for doing so.
A simple “Hey, where are you going?” would have gotten an answer that every lunch aid, and teacher has been getting for the last two months, “I need to take my meds.”
I really had to think about this. I know my daughter, I know she can get a little snippy. I had to close my eyes and put myself in the situation. If she had gotten disrespectful, and put on a show for the students, then an after school detention, or sitting out from her Volley Ball game would have been agreeable. But the assistant principal gave me no indication that she was rude, loud, or show-casing disrespectful. She was simply upset because she couldn’t sit with her friends. They had been sitting together since the first day of school. It upset her lunch routine, and if anyone knows her, you know her routine at school is key.
So, I decided to NOT ground her for it. I could not see myself punishing her for simply trying to find reason. I could NOT ground her for leaving to take her meds. and I could NOT tell her she was wrong for asking a question.
There were so many other ways the school could have handled this, so many other solutions.
What ever happened to cleaning blackboards, or clapping erasers, or cleaning desk? I remember getting in trouble and having to help the janitor after school. Honestly, with the way schools are now, a suspension is a reward. I don’t understand using that for a non-violence offense. If the child is not posing a risk to other students, teachers, or themselves, why are we removing them from the learning environment? Why are we not talking to them? Why are we not explaining why they are getting in trouble, and listening?
I think its time that these schools stop looking to weed out students who aren’t key to their rating, and start treating the kids as individuals.
I think its time to find new solutions for these kids, and stop tossing them out the front door.