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Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K., LCSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1814
Experience:  Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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Last October our son was falsely accused of making a racist

Resolved Question:

Last October our son was falsely accused of making a racist comment. He, and we vehemently denied it at the time but the school's 'handling system' kicked into life. Clumsy handling caused him to be called racist by many of the kids as he walked into classes, and despite being able to prove beyond doubt that many of the stories the investigating teacher had been told were fabrications, our son was put onto a disciplinary programme. This incident, and the fact that a)telling the truth, and b) us trying to sort it out for him failed, caused our son to feel he had been 'hung out to dry' by the school and his attitute toward it has suffered since. Academically he is a high achiever, in many accellerated classes, top sets for maths etc. and we have been reluctant to remove him from the school which has had a very good reputation, but he now keeps getting into little bits of trouble for speaking to teachers in a less than reverend way etc. etc. I know this is not great, and we are trying to solve it but the school now seen to be regularly assuming the worst about him and he is being blamed for things which he has nothing to do with. The latest incident however has me flummoxed as to what to do. A School trip to a Safari Park. All Y9 kids left to roam around, with instructions to meet back at lunchtime etc. As far as our son was concerned it was an enjoyable but uneventful day. Upon returning by coach to school he was hauled off the coach by a teacher, accused of being involved in some sort of incident, of which he knew nothing, and then was agressively questioned by at times 6 teachers in a public lobby area of the school. He had no idea what had occurred, or what they were referring to. At one point the school receptionist joined in, berrating him for damaging the school's name with his behaviour. This went on for some time until the assembled teachers realised they had been questionning him so long that it was 5pm and he had missed his lift home (we are 9 miles from the school). Our some was really distressed at some points, angry at others but was polite throughout. This is so wrong on so many levels that I don't quite know where to start. I need to go to the school to sort this out but am pretty outraged about how he was treated that I want to get things straight in my mind before I do. He's an intelligent and decent kid. Yes he's a teenager (131/2) and yes we have the whole teen thing going on, but he has a very strong sense of what is right and wrong. Can you offer me any advice at all on how to handle this please ?

NB  The incident, apparently, was some teenage boys being overheard using bad language on the park 'train' tour.  My son says it was another group of kids who were causing mayhem in a carriage further back from his group.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Coach Jen K. replied 2 years ago.

CoachJenK :

Hi. good afternoon to you.

CoachJenK :

I am disturbed by what I am hearing as well. The school seems rather harsh in their treatment of your son. I am clear that your son has denied all that they say and you know your son best as to whether you believe him, but lets just play it out that the school was right and yur son did do these things....that still does not warrant the kind of treatment he has received and how the situation has been handled.

CoachJenK :

But lets go with him being truthful about it all as that is what you know to be accurate.

CoachJenK :

When you mentioned that he was interrogated by a group of teachers to the point where he missed his ride home, i find that disturbing. If they were going to have that kind of interaction I believe you could have been notified and asked to meet you at the school to discus the "incident." It is also disturbing that you have not gotten the feedback and response from the school to address the issue. I am not one to advocate for leaving a school because your son may grow from this situation but on the other hand he may as you have already seen that he begins to act in the way they are accusing.

CoachJenK :

i know you have tried to do this already, but I would push for an in person meeting without your son to get to the bottom of this. Then I would also push for a meeting with all involved with you and your son. There is no reason for him to be treated as the school pariah. His self esteem and passion for school could greatly suffer. Let me know your thoughts.

Customer:

Hi CoachJenK

CoachJenK :

Welcome

Customer:

Thanks for your reply. I received a telephone call from the school when they realised how late they had kept him and had to tell them how I wanted him to get home... He had told them that in the absence of a lift (he had organised one but the teachers prevented him from having it, or telling his lift that he couldn't go with them) I 9 miles from the school and so had to ask them to get him to the public bus stop - they said a teacher would drive him there...Yes I have now asked the school for a meeting.

CoachJenK :

Its quite outrageous.

CoachJenK :

have they responded to your meeting request?

Customer:

during the call I was told there had been a series of incidents on the trip, that the park had received complaints etc. It sounds like the trip was complete mayhem and our son took the brunt of the teachers frustration.

CoachJenK :

as I said above...even if he did make the remark there is a way to handle things to understand his behavior and help him not push him away to create anger

CoachJenK :

easy target

CoachJenK :

I would be clear with your son as i know you have about acceptable behavior at school and home and remind him of consequences...that is not to say you aren't believing in him but reminding him along the way

Customer:

Yes. He was sat on one side of a coffee table with 6 adults on the other side all throwing questions at him. He was given a blank piece of paper and told to write an account of the incident and didn't know what to write down. I am due to see one of the deputy heads next week, but need to change the date so my husband can come too - he is totally outraged.

CoachJenK :

I feel for both of you. sounds like a police state.

CoachJenK :

anyway to keep the date and have your husband re-work his schedule? I dont want the school confused about your seriousness on the matter.

Customer:

I must contact them but today is an inset day and they don't take calls. Our son was told he would have to go to a meeting on Monday to hear what 'sanctions' they would be putting in place, so they have totally decided that he was using bad language (amongst his friends, not to other park visitors or anyone else). Other incidents included a kid trying to jump onto the back of the train - he, I gather, is to be dealt with but I think our son caught the teachers frustration and was used as an outlet. My husband has said we should send a letter in with Olly on Monday to say that we do not agree to anything being put in place until we have been in to discuss this with the school. We are going to try to move the appt from Thurs to Tues if they will accommodate us, and yes we will again take time off work to do this. I am not sure how far it goes before a situation like this becomes irretrievable... We were very happy when Olly got into the school, but our experiences with the school when things don't go 100% well is shockingly bad. Its the best school in the area academically, and as a Y9 who has just made his subject options its a terrible time to be looking to move him. I'm worried about the long term repercussions, but its a lot to expect a lad of 13 to deal with all this and 'tough it out'.

CoachJenK :

I agree with all of what you are saying and i also like the idea of the letter asking them to wait until your meeting to discuss the outcomes. I would also keep checking in with your son to see how he is feeling and make sure he is getting the proper support from both of you which is absolutely sounds like he is.

CoachJenK :

and if he has used the foul language I am hoping he understands the repercussions of that.

CoachJenK :

are you still with me?

Customer:

Sorry, I'm at work so have to do other stuff in between

CoachJenK :

no worries. Just wanted to make sure all was okay.

Customer:

He does understand the bad language issue, of course he does. He knows its not for use in polite company and that using it can come across as disrespectful. He doesn't use bad language toward the teachers. The issue they have with him on a more general level, is that he is very confident and speaks much like an adult would. We have never 'babied' him, and as such he is articulate, confident and can construct a very good argument if need be. Some teachers do not appreciate this, and view confident responses as rude. WE have had this issue with a number of teachers over the years right back to Primary school. Some teachers do not expect confident answers from pupils. We are not so unrealistic as to think he doesn't indulge in it when with his friends and peers, and at coming up to 14 years its a completely normal stage of his development as a person. We've always taught him its important to have judgement on what is appropriate behaviour or language in any given situation. For instance. During this 'questionning session' the teachers realised how late it was and told him to text his father to say the coach had been held up and that it was the reason for his lateness. Our son's response was to (politely) tell them "but that is a blatant lie", which the teacher agreed with, but which she said would be OK as ultimately he was going to be late home... He did text his father though, as they had instructed him to do.

Customer:

How can he maintain respect for this person (a deputy head) when it leaves me finding it difficult ?

CoachJenK :

I must say I commend your parenting and your sons behavior. Sadly the school is teaching the wrong behaviors. I am proud of him for sure hearing that example and your ability to see what is normal teenage behavior. I will be interested to hear how the meeting goes. You and your husband I believe will make the impression that needs to be made.

Customer:

Well, I hope so. But sadly I think we may possibly have come to the end of things with this school which is a real shame. When you send your boy off to a new school and receive really good school progress reports (OK peppered with the odd 'could apply himself even more' type comments, or 'calls out instead of putting his hand up'), you think that its all good. To be in a place where you feel that the school/teachers are actively singling your son out for harsher treatment than any of the other kids is slightly bewildering, really. I know for fact that there are a number of kids who are real skally's, smoking, truanting, causing all sorts of problems and Olly who has done none of these things appears on the face of it, to be being treated more harshly. Do you think it might be because he's an achiever in class? I gather the more problematic kids are not high achievers, so does that mean that psycologically the teachers are softer on them?

CoachJenK :

Its a great question...either that or they have given up on those and feel like being over the top with yours will get him "back in line" before he ends up like the others. In the end you will make the best choice for your sons mental health.

Customer:

OK Thanks

CoachJenK :

I am here to give you more support but again I thikn you have done a great job and your feelings are quite valid.

Customer:

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX think we're being hysterical or over protective either.

Customer:

I'll leave you to listen to or help some other bods.

Customer:

Its been useful to get it off my chest.

CoachJenK :

I dont either. You sound like you have a great head on your shoulders and know your son and want the school to do better!

Customer:

Regards

Customer:

Su

CoachJenK :

You can come back and ask for me anytime. I hope it all goes well and reach out to me if you need to. If you have found this helpful please click accept. Thanks so much. I will be thinking of all of you

Coach Jen K., LCSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1814
Experience: Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K.
Social Worker, Professional Coach
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Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.