Letter from a mom Letter from a mom and a reply
September 29, 2004

Dear NoSpank,

My child has a teacher who is verbally abusive. He is in a first grader in a one/two split. The curriculum is mainly second grade. I would like to have my child moved but the school does not normally do this. His teacher is from the stone ages, does not allow speaking, yells at children all day, uses punishment loss of recess and fear to promote work completion also various humiliation techniques. There is a huge discrepancy in the curriculum of the straight first grade and this combo class. Would I have better luck focusing on the teacher issues or the curriculum issues when trying to get my child moved to the other class.

The teacher has taught in the school for I am guessing 15 or more years, has had lots of complaints but nothing has been done. The principal seems to avoid the problem. We have met with her and will meet with him next week. Question: What legal leg can I stand on. The principal is highly motivated by legal things and people who know what their rights are. Please help me find some loop hole.... My child is suffering from within..............help!

A Mom

Dear Parent,

You do not need a "loophole." You must keep focused on your priorities. First, as a parent, you have a primary obligation to protect your child from abusive treatment by anybody. Second, as a citizen and taxpayer, you should understand that the school system exists to meet the needs of children, not the other way around. A teacher who is a screamer, who humiliates, frightens and upsets children, is behaving unprofessionally and clearly is not serving anyone's needs, and moreover is possibly causing irreparable harm. The effects of negative early school experiences can be profound and difficult to undo later. First grade should be a happy time, not a scary time. Were I in your shoes, I would immediately remove my child from the toxic environment. If you feel you need expert backup, consult a qualified pediatrician or child psychologist -- not one associated with, or recommended by, the school. Obtain a letter from that professional prescribing the change. Also, it might be useful to have a letter from an attorney to the school advising them that they will be held accountable for damages caused by their failure to provide a safe educational environment, i.e., one without your child's daily exposure to a teacher who lacks appropriate management skills. Carefully read my "Abuse in Schools is Out!" at http://nospank.net/out.htm . Make copies using the PDF version and distribute them to the other parents you say have also complained about this teacher. Read some of the accounts on the subsection of our site, "Abuse in the Classroom," at http://nospank.net/classrm.htm . You'll see that your situation is not unique. I'll share your letter with others (but conceal your identity, of course) and if they send me any useful advice, I'll forward it to you. I hope this helps. Advise me of progress and feel free to call.

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir., Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE), P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507-7033. Web site: "Project NoSpank" at www.nospank.net Telephone: (925) 831-1661 :

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