You got it wrong today. You got it wrong when overnight a suspension turned into expelling a student – a student who was pantsed, shoved into a wall, and shoved over/into his desk. You sent home the victim – the kid being picked on.
You even patted yourself on the back with your list of solutions for his struggle in dealing with their cruel actions. But you failed a student today when you let bullies win, when you let bullies have the upper hand, and you let bullies run him out. You failed more than a student, you failed your school and your community.
You failed today when you sent a new-to-the-district student home indefinitely because it was easier than providing resources and being part of the solution for him. It was easier to take the side of students that aren’t new to the district- students that have grown up in your small town, students that everyone already knows and loves.
Yes, this student is angry, he is hurt, and the very tool his counselor gave him for expressing his big feelings without adding fuel to the fire was thrown in his face. The journal that should have been his companion as he sorted out the trouble he was having is now the betrayer. His secret is out – he is angry at those who have been bullying him. He is angry at those who have been mean to him.
We embarked on this journey with so much hope – so many good reviews, talking about how well you supported each student, but tonight, I don’t feel the love. I don’t see how sending us home with a list of phone numbers is supporting us or helping us walk through this.
I’m a keyboard warrior tonight because you stole my voice today. You made me feel as small as he did, helpless, and with no place to turn. I’m a keyboard warrior tonight because he wasn’t my only student at your school and I don’t want to make life difficult for my other son because I don’t know when to hold my tongue. I’m a keyboard warrior tonight because I, too, turn to writing to express my deepest feelings.
I want to roar about your injustice, but I don’t want to overshadow my son’s feelings about how you chose to handle this situation. I don’t want him to feel like more of a victim than he already does. I want him to own his actions, I want him to own his feelings, and I want him to roar. I want him to prove that he can do this without you, but you don’t really get how bad he wanted you on this journey.
When the bullies win and the victims of their torment are sent home, you are siding with the bad guy. You are showing the world that the bad guy wins. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see the bad guy win. I want to see someone stand up to the bully and make them back down. I want someone to tell the bully to go home, or take a seat, or sit in the office. I want the bully to be the one being sent home indefinitely because they can’t figure out how to treat another person decently and with kindness.
Monday will come, as it always does, and education will happen without your broken system. We’ll learn how the earth turns and what gravity does. We’ll add and subtract, and make a pie chart. We’ll learn where the period goes in a sentence, we’ll spell words that are new to us and learn how to use them. Monday will come and lessons galore, and we’ll show up and do our best because that’s what we’re teaching our kids to do.
But you need to know, dear school, you failed today. You failed my son, your student, the student body you serve. You made a bad call, you made the wrong call, you sent the wrong boy home today. But home is where he belongs, home is his safe place to fall. We’ll help him up, brush him off, and move on along on our way. We’ll succeed and we’ll fail and we will own it all, but we won’t turn our back on each other when we need help the most.
The Mom of a Warrior