HELP - School targeting son as possible "Columbine shoo

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LMD1968
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26 Jun 2013, 10:20 am

A month after the shooting in CT, our private school scheduled a meeting with me to discuss their concerns with my son. He is 12, PDD-NOS/ADD/Depression.

He perseverates on military things (my father is retired Air Force). They showed me a drawing he made that was suppose to be a picture of New Orleans. He drew a picture of a train with military equipment on it (that we see going by our house monthly) he drew a photo of James Bond (we had just watched the Bond movie filmed in New Orleans) and a picture of James Bond shooting someone in the French Quarter. My Son also has a very low frustration tolerance and is being bullied at school. Sometimes he gets angry and upset in response to the bullies. But never acts out or threatens them. I understand several parents of the bullies have complained to the school and, not understanding his reaction to their sons behavior, are trying to get the school to push our son out.

The school is requiring that my son receive weekly counseling outside of school. We have been receiving it and using it to build tools for getting past the bullying situations and making friends.

He was being bullied by a boy in class, my son was asked to leave, because his reaction telling the boy to leave him alone was disruptive to the class. He sat in the hall and was asked to write a letter to the teacher about what happened. He wrote an angry letter to the teacher asking her why she didn't do anything about the other boys behavior. Again, nothing threatening in the letter, perhaps a little disrespectful, but he was expressing his frustration. Again I was called in and told that my son was going to be suspended for a day.

I asked the school if they have ever had suspended any of the boys who had bullied my son (physical, verbal and online). They hadn't. I told the school they were discriminating against my son because of his disability and that they didn't understand kids on the Autism spectrum. They decided not to suspend him for the day.

I have talked with his education psychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. They all agree that he is in the best school for him. My son also wants to stay at this school.

I feel like my next meeting at the school ought to include a lawyer. I feel like the school has an agenda to kick my son out to solve the problems he is facing socially. I do feel like they are discriminating against him because of his disability. Do we have any legal standing against a private school? Has anyone else ever faced issues like this? Should I refuse to meet with the school as long as they are pursuing this agenda? He will be at this same school until he graduates high school. Any advice appreciated.



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26 Jun 2013, 10:56 am

Schools in my area are extremely anti-(?)violence -no mention/depictions (even unintended ones) of guns, death, knife's etc. Not sure if having a lawyer would help, depends on the school rules and state laws. You should also report the bullies and say they are are disturbing to your son learning, hopefully they'll do something about them -I don't know what your state is doing to combat bullying in schools. Also tell you r son that he should not be violent, or mention/depict violence (again I know "violence" may not be the correct word here, can't think of another sorry), even if it seems like the school should have enough common sense to realize if it is actually going to lead to something or not, they can be ridiculous (see disclaimer) trying to protect students (at least they're trying).

Sorry you have to deal with this, I hope it gets better.

DISCLAIMER: I'm speaking from experience my mother has had with my elementary school brother (he was punished, several times, for mentioning weapons/"making threats" -it was a joke that his "friend" took offense to- at recess, and recent news. The part about the bullies is my own experience.



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26 Jun 2013, 11:58 am

Well, as I always recommend, go for home school as an alternative. The education is better, it takes less time and the social environment is much, much better.


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26 Jun 2013, 2:07 pm

LMD1968 wrote:
A month after the shooting in CT, our private school scheduled a meeting with me to discuss their concerns with my son. He is 12, PDD-NOS/ADD/Depression.

He perseverates on military things (my father is retired Air Force). They showed me a drawing he made that was suppose to be a picture of New Orleans. He drew a picture of a train with military equipment on it (that we see going by our house monthly) he drew a photo of James Bond (we had just watched the Bond movie filmed in New Orleans) and a picture of James Bond shooting someone in the French Quarter. My Son also has a very low frustration tolerance and is being bullied at school. Sometimes he gets angry and upset in response to the bullies. But never acts out or threatens them. I understand several parents of the bullies have complained to the school and, not understanding his reaction to their sons behavior, are trying to get the school to push our son out.

The school is requiring that my son receive weekly counseling outside of school. We have been receiving it and using it to build tools for getting past the bullying situations and making friends.

He was being bullied by a boy in class, my son was asked to leave, because his reaction telling the boy to leave him alone was disruptive to the class. He sat in the hall and was asked to write a letter to the teacher about what happened. He wrote an angry letter to the teacher asking her why she didn't do anything about the other boys behavior. Again, nothing threatening in the letter, perhaps a little disrespectful, but he was expressing his frustration. Again I was called in and told that my son was going to be suspended for a day.

I asked the school if they have ever had suspended any of the boys who had bullied my son (physical, verbal and online). They hadn't. I told the school they were discriminating against my son because of his disability and that they didn't understand kids on the Autism spectrum. They decided not to suspend him for the day.

I have talked with his education psychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. They all agree that he is in the best school for him. My son also wants to stay at this school.

I feel like my next meeting at the school ought to include a lawyer. I feel like the school has an agenda to kick my son out to solve the problems he is facing socially. I do feel like they are discriminating against him because of his disability. Do we have any legal standing against a private school? Has anyone else ever faced issues like this? Should I refuse to meet with the school as long as they are pursuing this agenda? He will be at this same school until he graduates high school. Any advice appreciated.


From your post, I think contacting a lawyer to gain further information of your legal rights is a legitimate and practical option. After the meeting, you may have a better understanding of whether a letter from or a visit with the lawyer would be beneficial. Also, it sounds like they need some education, perhaps a functional behavior analyst who can observe the bullying interactions and provide the school with more appropriate and reasonable responses. As for what you can do at home, I have found the book "A 5 is against the law" helpful for my son in understanding the differences in the levels of his behaviors and how it is interpreted by adults. It can also give the teachers/principal a way to talk to him in a beneficial and educational way rather than a punitive way. You will probably have to pick and choose what to share with your son from this book as some of it may be above his developmental level. Best of luck to you.


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26 Jun 2013, 2:11 pm

Not a lawyer but I'll give you my understanding from a layperson's perspective. It is a more difficult situation for you since you are at a private school. They are NOT required to educate your child the way a public school is. The public school system has a legal obligation to provide your child a free and appropriate education. That being said, acts of harassment (aka bullying) and discrimination are illegal regardless of where they occur. The problem would be in proving that the events/situations actually constitute harassment and/or discrimination under the law. That is where a lawyer comes in. If they are trying to push you out, it is likely that they will continue to make your life and your son's life miserable until you pull him. If you hire a lawyer and fight them to stay there, what do you think the environment will be like even if you win? If the school is punishing your kid because he is being bullied, then they REALLY don't get autism spectrum disorders. You suing them for harassment and/or discrimination is not likely to get them to behave any better. That might be "the best" school on paper but it sounds like it is not a good situation in real life.



LMD1968
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26 Jun 2013, 2:48 pm

Thank you all for your prompt responses. It is a very trying situation. I guess for now it just pays to document everything and to hold the school accountable to dealing with the bullies aggressively. Sometimes it is so hard to be an advocate for our children when other people don't understand the subtleties of the AS.

So glad to have found wrongplanet, most people don't ever quite understand what it is like to have a child on the AS. Nice to be able to share with people that do!



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26 Jun 2013, 2:55 pm

Wow... I have no help or advice but I just want to wish you good luck. What a horrible situation you're in (and your son of course)



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26 Jun 2013, 6:22 pm

I am having trouble reconciling the "this is the best school for him" with the actions the people at the school are taking. How can any place that allows bullying and does not understand ASD be the best option? Does your gut - forget the experts, think of this as the mom - tell you it is the best place?

Beyond that, the common thread I saw in your post was bullying. In my opinion, the school needs to be pushed to be PROACTIVE with controlling the bullying that is occurring to your son. THAT is what I would insist on. Give concrete suggestions and see if they are willing to implement any of them. Your son simply cannot thrive if he is continually exposed to bullying. This is not a "lets learn how to deal with better" item; this is something that destroys him internally. You can't get rid of 100% of the damage of a bullet by removing it, and you can't get rid of 100% of the damage from bullying by sending a child to counseling. The school MUST adopt policies that actively discourage bullying and increase monitoring so that the culprits get caught. To date, it sounds like the bullies get rewarded. That is wrong on so many levels.

If they cannot work with you on that, then it can't possibly be a good place for your child, in my opinion.

Will they get what they seem to want if you pull out? Maybe. But it isn't your job to teach the school how to be a better school, it is your job to protect your child. And when you tell people why you left the school - bullying that no one would deal with - they'll start to get the message. Private schools rely on reputation.

Hmmm ... I wonder if it would be effective to tell them, bluntly, "if I have to pull my son out to keep him safe from bullies, you can bet other parents thinking about choosing this school will know about it."


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26 Jun 2013, 7:07 pm

LMD1968 wrote:
A month after the shooting in CT, our private school scheduled a meeting with me to discuss their concerns with my son. He is 12, PDD-NOS/ADD/Depression.


I'm unclear what this meeting has anything to do with the CT shooting. Was it brought up at the meeting?

Quote:
He perseverates on military things (my father is retired Air Force). They showed me a drawing he made that was suppose to be a picture of New Orleans. He drew a picture of a train with military equipment on it (that we see going by our house monthly) he drew a photo of James Bond (we had just watched the Bond movie filmed in New Orleans) and a picture of James Bond shooting someone in the French Quarter.


These pictures are not unusual. I see primary-aged (grades K-3) boys drawing guns/weapons in their drawing books all the time. You may want to remind the staff that although he is 12 years old, maturity wise, he's much younger. If you look at the 30% rule, that puts your son (assumingly) at 8 years old. I know lots of boys at this age who like war games, and shootings, etc.

Quote:
My Son also has a very low frustration tolerance and is being bullied at school. Sometimes he gets angry and upset in response to the bullies. But never acts out or threatens them.

How does he handle them then? Has the incidences been reported?

Quote:
I understand several parents of the bullies have complained to the school and, not understanding his reaction to their sons behavior, are trying to get the school to push our son out.

About what?

Quote:
The school is requiring that my son receive weekly counseling outside of school. We have been receiving it and using it to build tools for getting past the bullying situations and making friends.

Good idea but why are they asking that? To help cope with the bullying or for drawing guns?

Quote:
He was being bullied by a boy in class, my son was asked to leave, because his reaction telling the boy to leave him alone was disruptive to the class. He sat in the hall and was asked to write a letter to the teacher about what happened. He wrote an angry letter to the teacher asking her why she didn't do anything about the other boys behavior. Again, nothing threatening in the letter, perhaps a little disrespectful, but he was expressing his frustration. Again I was called in and told that my son was going to be suspended for a day.

Does he have a habit of reacting this way? From what you've already written, it sounds as if he lets them get away with it. How often does he react like this - or is this a one-off? The counseling may help him learn effective ways of dealing with these kids (bullies).

Quote:
I asked the school if they have ever had suspended any of the boys who had bullied my son (physical, verbal and online).
Did you print it out (online)? People need concrete evidence to take this sort of thing seriously. Since you have it readily available, you need to produce it. Have they even been notified that these kids are bullying? What's been the consequence? What have you done to ensure something was done? Any follow-ups?

Quote:
I have talked with his education psychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. They all agree that he is in the best school for him.
Why? He's frustrated.

Quote:
I feel like the school has an agenda to kick my son out to solve the problems he is facing socially. I do feel like they are discriminating against him because of his disability.

You may have legit reasons as to why you feel this way but you haven't mentioned why you think this. Did they advise you? Warn you? Suggest anything?



LMD1968
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26 Jun 2013, 7:32 pm

Q I'm unclear what this meeting has anything to do with the CT shooting. Was it brought up at the meeting?

A Not at the first meeting, but I confronted the principle and he admitted that some parents were concerned about that.


Q These pictures are not unusual. I see primary-aged (grades K-3) boys drawing guns/weapons in their drawing books all the time. You may want to remind the staff that although he is 12 years old, maturity wise, he's much younger. If you look at the 30% rule, that puts your son (assumingly) at 8 years old. I know lots of boys at this age who like war games, and shootings, etc.

A My point exactly, they are not a prediction of his having violent behavior in the future.


Q: How does he handle them then? Has the incidences been reported?

A: Unfortunately he usually just tries to escape from the bullies by going into the bathroom, then the boys have been following him in the bathroom and continuing the behavior. Yes all the incidents have been reported. Although then he gets backlash for "telling" on them. Now he is trying to avoid telling me so the other boys don't get upset with him when I report their behavoir.

Q: About what?

A: School hasn't told me exactly, but I can only imagine. They are worried his is ticking time bomb, is my impression.

Q: Good idea but why are they asking that? To help cope with the bullying or for drawing guns?

A: to deal with his anger and frustration and to learn how to deal with the bully behavior

Q: Does he have a habit of reacting this way? From what you've already written, it sounds as if he lets them get away with it. How often does he react like this - or is this a one-off? The counseling may help him learn effective ways of dealing with these kids (bullies).

A: He is very black and white, if he doesn't think something is "fair" in his eyes it make him very upset.

Q: Did you print it out (online)? People need concrete evidence to take this sort of thing seriously. Since you have it readily available, you need to produce it. Have they even been notified that these kids are bullying? What's been the consequence? What have you done to ensure something was done? Any follow-ups?

A. Yes, yes, and yes. School use to be "boys will be boys", now the are talking to them, giving them warnings, talking to their parents, etc. We are at the point of calling the police to actually file a police report next time it gets physical and the school doesn't do anything about it. Perhaps that will get the parents attention.

Q:Why? He's frustrated.

A: it is the best school because of the accommodations they make, the services they provide, the fact that his tutor can come in and work with him at school, and that he can do sports (they have a no cut policy, he isn't athletically gifted but he identifies himself as a jock, at least here he can play all sports, he wouldn't make the team at other schools)


Q: You may have legit reasons as to why you feel this way but you haven't mentioned why you think this. Did they advise you? Warn you? Suggest anything?

A: I asked them directly, they said he was doing fine academically, they are concerned with his social development, but the aren't going to "kick him out" as long as we comply with their requirements of quarterly meetings and continuation of outside therapy.



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26 Jun 2013, 10:01 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
Hmmm ... I wonder if it would be effective to tell them, bluntly, "if I have to pull my son out to keep him safe from bullies, you can bet other parents thinking about choosing this school will know about it."


I agree with this, and I might imply that I would take it farther than the parent community.

Your public school district is required to offer an individualized education plan for children with special needs - a private school is only required to offer them an education (but if they receive ANY federal funding, they have to offer IEPs.) That said, they are still bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act and can't discriminate against your child on the basis of his disability, which is what they are doing.

In addition, bullying harms all the children in the school, including the bullies. The school is responsible to maintain a safe environment for ALL kids, including yours. You might also ask that the school offer disability awareness training for students, teachers and parents, to address the unfair rumors, and that the school back you up in saying that these kinds of allegations are nothing more than discrimination.



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26 Jun 2013, 10:13 pm

I'm going to kind of go on a tangent for a moment, because a lot of schools don't know how to handle bullying. It is my belief that mitigating starts with school culture. You need teachers who are accepting and appreciative of all the unique children in their class, and who express that in a way that sets a positive example. Kids know when adults say one thing but do another, and when they say don't bully but punish the quirky child for responding in an instinctive way, they are acting as if differences matter, and setting up the environment for bullying.


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26 Jun 2013, 10:18 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
Kids know when adults say one thing but do another, and when they say don't bully but punish the quirky child for responding in an instinctive way, they are acting as if differences matter, and setting up the environment for bullying.


Yes - we had quite a struggle when our school instituted an "anti-bullying" program which wound up causing kids to identify my son as a bully for behaviors he had no real awareness of. This got better after he disclosed his diagnosis and kids understood him better - but that was when he was younger, and a time when people were more accepting, so YMMV.



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27 Jun 2013, 11:42 am

LMD1968 wrote:
Q I'm unclear what this meeting has anything to do with the CT shooting. Was it brought up at the meeting?

A Not at the first meeting, but I confronted the principle and he admitted that some parents were concerned about that.

I would put in writing that why aren't the parents concerned about all the other boys who are drawing guns, weapons, military things? If you cross-check the % of Aspie shooters with NT shooters I will bet the Aspie % is tiny by comparison. I would point out that this is scare-mongering and the school should take the position that it is their duty to educate the parents as to the realities of AS and stop discrimination like this, not allow it.

Q These pictures are not unusual. I see primary-aged (grades K-3) boys drawing guns/weapons in their drawing books all the time. You may want to remind the staff that although he is 12 years old, maturity wise, he's much younger. If you look at the 30% rule, that puts your son (assumingly) at 8 years old. I know lots of boys at this age who like war games, and shootings, etc.

A My point exactly, they are not a prediction of his having violent behavior in the future.

See above.

Q: How does he handle them then? Has the incidences been reported?

A: Unfortunately he usually just tries to escape from the bullies by going into the bathroom, then the boys have been following him in the bathroom and continuing the behavior. Yes all the incidents have been reported. Although then he gets backlash for "telling" on them. Now he is trying to avoid telling me so the other boys don't get upset with him when I report their behaviour.

The bullies should be disciplined in a way that includes telling them there are no backlashes allowed and that they will be closely watched. Perhaps the school has some policy of sanctions against grades or something for those that continue the bullying. Either way, they are responsible for your son's wellbeing as well as his education, whilst he is in their care. If they do not prevent the bullying tell them you will report it to the police, and that will involve publicity.

Q: About what?

A: School hasn't told me exactly, but I can only imagine. They are worried his is ticking time bomb, is my impression.

See first point. Why is an Aspie any more threat than an NT who goes off the rails and why are they any more likely to go off the rails in the first place? If the school thinks he is a ticking bomb, then they should be doing all in their power to not end up culpable for anything they might be scared will happen

Q: Good idea but why are they asking that? To help cope with the bullying or for drawing guns?

A: to deal with his anger and frustration and to learn how to deal with the bully behavior

Why are they not sending the bullies to therapy to stop them behaving like bastards and victimising their peers?

Q: Does he have a habit of reacting this way? From what you've already written, it sounds as if he lets them get away with it. How often does he react like this - or is this a one-off? The counseling may help him learn effective ways of dealing with these kids (bullies).

A: He is very black and white, if he doesn't think something is "fair" in his eyes it make him very upset.

And the bullies need therapy to help them see the unfairness of their behaviour. Clearly they have issues in those areas.

Q: Did you print it out (online)? People need concrete evidence to take this sort of thing seriously. Since you have it readily available, you need to produce it. Have they even been notified that these kids are bullying? What's been the consequence? What have you done to ensure something was done? Any follow-ups?

A. Yes, yes, and yes. School use to be "boys will be boys", now the are talking to them, giving them warnings, talking to their parents, etc. We are at the point of calling the police to actually file a police report next time it gets physical and the school doesn't do anything about it. Perhaps that will get the parents attention.

I would file it, irrespective of whether the school starts addressing it. They need to know that you are serious and this is not an issue that can be brushed under the carpet.

Q:Why? He's frustrated.

A: it is the best school because of the accommodations they make, the services they provide, the fact that his tutor can come in and work with him at school, and that he can do sports (they have a no cut policy, he isn't athletically gifted but he identifies himself as a jock, at least here he can play all sports, he wouldn't make the team at other schools)

Could none of this happen at another school though? Do children who are not sporty enough to pass the grade for teams not get to do sports at all?

Q: You may have legit reasons as to why you feel this way but you haven't mentioned why you think this. Did they advise you? Warn you? Suggest anything?

A: I asked them directly, they said he was doing fine academically, they are concerned with his social development, but the aren't going to "kick him out" as long as we comply with their requirements of quarterly meetings and continuation of outside therapy.


I would write to them asking why they are discriminating against your son by insisting he has therapy but not doing the same for the people who cause him problems in the first place. the bullies. If he weren't being bullied, he would not be reacting like that. He should not be the one required to go to therapy. I hope they are paying for his therapy, and I would check the laws where you are on whether they in fact can kick him out for this type of reason. Also check the equality laws. You might find they are not within their rights at all.


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27 Jun 2013, 1:55 pm

Im not sure about the US, but in the uk all acts of violence above 10+ are grounds for calling law enforcement.. i suggest you do this if the school aren't acting properly..
also you may have a law suit if the school is breaching its duty of care



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27 Jun 2013, 6:23 pm

My preferred route would be this:

Get him a discreet recording device. It won't take long to capture audio evidence of the bullying.
Have him identify the people on the recording. Then have a lawyer write to the school, asking for a meeting with their parents and the principal. Play the disc and explain that you're sure they will understand exactly why the police and local news will turn up at their houses the next time it happens. Or better yet, just send the lawyer to do it.

Also, in future, make recordings of all meetings.

Potentially risking a lot in some ways, but the only way to win is to fight like a bully, with complete disregard for any but your goal, and without compassion or quarter for anyone else, for any "reason" that isn't Your reason.

The fight against bullying is a war. It is reasonable to believe that it will NEVER receive more than lip service in any school, since it never has, neither has it ever been a genuine priority. making a noise is better than suffering in silence. If you are paying them money to educate your child and they are failing in their duty of care to provide him with a safe environment in which to learn, they are breaching the contract. He's there to learn how to pass his exams, not how to get along with bullies.

-Ahem- sorry. A subject close to my heart. Best of luck with all this.


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