There might not be a profession as underappreciated as teaching. Most of the time, teachers are awesome and have a positive impact on their students. Unfortunately, as is the case with all positions of power, teaching can attract entitled people who want nothing more than to exercise power over a captive audience. Thankfully, these parents decided they weren’t going to let it slide.
All content has been edited for clarity.
There’s No Possible Way This Teacher Meant Well
“My first husband had a child before we met. A few years into our marriage my husband was offered custody, and we accepted. When my new son came to us at 8 years old, his life had already become a train wreck, abused in every way possible, he had no self-esteem, and he was behind his peers in every way. With two toddlers and an infant, I knew two things, I had to make it better for him, and I would never let any of my kids feel like he had.
Our school district had testing for new students, to determine placement. Once the testing was done and evaluated, we were given two options, he could be held back or he could be placed in special education classes. I asked for a third option, let me work with him and then test him after, then place him by that testing. They agreed but warned me that we only had about six weeks before the last testing would be administered.
He was a fantastic kid. Once I showed him a concept, I didn’t have to do much more in most cases. He worked hard, he brought himself from a pre-k level in math and an early kindergarten level in English, to a mid-third-grade level in both. All before those six weeks were up. He was tested and entered third grade with his peers.
Fast forward to the middle of fourth grade. His grades were slipping, he was getting restless in class. They gave him a few tests, one was an IQ test (without notifying us of any issues, let alone the testing). They told his teachers the results (again no notice to us of any issues, the testing, or now the results).
My son comes home one day, sits down, and just cries his heart out. I held him and waited for him to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong. He told me that his teacher had had him come to the front of the classroom and announced to him and the rest of the class that he was mentally disabled.
I was beyond furious, called my (then) husband, and informed him of what had happened, and that I was going to the school the next day. He didn’t argue, I think he may not have dared.
By the next day, I was calm(ish), left the youngest three with a family member, and walked my boy to school. When we got there, I signed him in but kept him with me. I asked to speak with the principal, I did not offer any more explanation than that my son was being bullied. I told the secretary my son was not going to go to his classroom until we had spoken to the principal.
We waited while the principal did his work, including morning announcements. We had been there half an hour when the principal came to meet us. I let my son explain what had happened the day before, including the teasing that resulted.
I honestly don’t think the principal had known of any of it. As he listened I could see the shock, anger, and pity mixed on his face. But as he spoke with my son his voice was calm, I knew we had a good ally, and I calmed down a bit more.
The principal called for the teacher, and the testing results. While we waited I was able to look over the results. Not hard, it was just a number and the association with borderline mental disability. I was confused and explained what my son had done prior to entering the school. The principal and I agreed that something was off. I decided then, I was going to have an independent evaluation done.
When the teacher finally came in, as I was explaining to the principal my thoughts on the independent evaluation, she rolled her eyes, looked at me, and told me it was unnecessary, that they take measures to be sure of the accuracy of the tests.
The principal didn’t have time to react. I turned on the woman. I was not calm, sweet, or nice. I told her that even if those results were right, which they weren’t, what she had done constituted child abuse, and she would be the subject of an investigation. I told her my son would no longer be in her classroom, and that by the time I was done she would be looking at a career flipping burgers. I explained to her that the results were not enough to determine why he had scored so low, especially after what he had done to pull himself up so far. My wording was enough to make a sailor’s ears burn. She attempted to defend herself several times during my tirade, and I refused, there is absolutely no cause for a teacher to discuss anything like that with a child, without a parent, counselor, and other staff present for an IEP meeting. It was beyond inexcusable for a teacher to loudly announce to a child, in a classroom full of his peers that he is mentally disabled, no matter the reason.
Apparently, while I was speaking, the principal had left to make some arrangements. When I turned back, he was coming back into the meeting room. He looked at the teacher, and told her to return to her classroom and pack up, she would be on leave until an investigation was conducted, and her replacement was on the way. After she left, he told me my son could have the day off, and that I should go ahead and get the evaluation, and let him know what it said.
We got the evaluation, the results were much the same, a low score pointing to borderline mental disability. However, the notes pointed to boredom. My son was answering, correctly, the hardest questions first, and not touching the easier questions. They suspected that he just didn’t have time or possibly the inclination to bother with the age-appropriate questions. I talked to my son, and went over the results, he explained that he tried but got bored with them.
I took the papers to the principal, at first he laughed, then he copied them. We then talked to my son about it. We explained that there are going to be a lot of times when he was going to have to do things he didn’t like, just get them done, and then he will have time to do fun stuff.
As for the teacher, she was fired. During the investigation, they found that my son wasn’t the only one she had treated like this, I was just the first to bring it to the school’s attention. I did report her to children’s services, but I’m not sure what happened with any of it. We had to move not long afterward because the damage had already been done, the kids in that school all had heard that he was mentally disabled and there was no end to the bullying.
If you feel like your child is being mistreated by anyone, you need to be the one to address it. I’m not talking about your child getting an F on an assignment they didn’t do. I’m talking about your child coming home in tears or acting oddly. There is usually a problem.”
It’s A Spelling Test Not A Sermon
“I have a child who is extremely smart, always read well above his grade level, and school work just came easy to him.
He would finish his classwork far ahead of the rest of the class, and would then pull out a book, or write or draw in a notebook.
His 4th-grade long-term substitute did not like him, said he finished his work too quickly (even though his answers were correct, and his penmanship good), read books above his level, and that it was disturbing for him to sit and read, draw, write when the other kids were still working.
Anyhow, one day we got the spelling list and this teacher had added the word God to the 4th-grade spelling list. My son thought it was weird to add a proper noun to a spelling list, and purposely spelled it, god, with an undercase g and she marked it wrong.
He asked why, and she went on a rant about how that was the name of the only god. My son recited the names of countless Norse, Greek, and Hindu gods. This woman had a fit and made my son sit in the hallway for 2 days.
When I found out, I wrote the school board and superintendent then went to the principal and asked for an explanation of why this woman would first even put God on a 4th-grade spelling test, a three-letter word, and why she used her class time to explain that there is only one god.
It turns out she willingly told the principal she had heard my son tell another child that we have no religion in our home, and she wanted to drive the point home.
She was removed from the classroom immediately.”
Smack My Kid With A Ruler And See What Happens
“My mother is 5 feet tall on a good day. She’s also an Italian woman. I was in 5th grade when my teacher yelled at me and hit my hand with a ruler. She then told me that I was flunking penmanship because I was left-handed and didn’t hold my hand right (I hook my hand) nor did I tip the paper the correct way.
I was so upset that I ran down the hall to the pay phone and got out my emergency dime and called my mother at home. I ride the bus and it was a 20–25 minute ride to the school, I was at the last stop.
She was there in about 10 minutes. She asked me to tell her exactly what happened and so I told her and showed her my hand which had a huge red welt on it. My mother was livid, she grabbed my right hand and we went down to my classroom.
I don’t know where the other kids were but the classroom was empty except for my teacher. My mom asked the teacher what happened and why she felt inclined to smack my left hand hard enough to leave a welt on my hand. The teacher gave her the same answer she gave to me, which was the wrong answer.
My mother went up to the chalkboard at the front of the classroom and told the teacher to turn around. The poor lady by this time wasn’t sure what my mom was going to do. My mom repeated herself again so the teacher turned around. My mom then proceeded to write her name up on the chalkboard. It was all pretty, and loopy, the total opposite of my chicken scratch. My mom then preceded to tell the teacher to turn back around and look at her writing. She asked her if it looked like a left or right-handed person writing it.
The teacher said that because I was left-handed, she could only assume that my mother is left-handed also. My mom then asked her if it looked like a left-handed person’s handwriting. The teacher said no it looked like a right-handed person.
My mom said exactly. She then proceeded to tell the teacher that it was not 1950 and that if she ever hit my hand again she would make sure she lost her job and would never work as a teacher again. She took me out of school that day, after signing me out, to get ice cream. I never had any more problems with that teacher again.”
How Was That Ever Allowed In Schools?
“I grew up in India in the 90s where corporal punishment by teachers (either kneeling down with bare knees or being hit on the palm with a wooden ruler) at schools was not only prevalent but it would in most cases also lead to follow-up punishment back home. So here I was in my 3rd grade, walking into my class one fine morning when I realize, to my utter horror, that I had worn the wrong kind of shoes (On days when we had PE classes, we were supposed to wear white canvas shoes, instead of the black dressy ones we wore on other days).
So, of course, the PE class comes around and I’m very nervous, but my mind was thinking, ‘The teacher is not going to let me play with the other kids because of not having the white canvas shoe and that is going to suck.’
But as we all lined up and our female PE teacher walked by us, she noticed my shoe and pulled me aside. Head hanging in shame, I was told to look up at her. I did immediately and started mumbling my sorry and that I’d messed up the day of the week when out of nowhere, smack! Her open hand had landed flush on my cheek and it was rapidly starting to sting bad and she was chewing me out for my mistake.
I made it to the end of the day and walked back home with my older sister, telling her multiple times, not to mention what had happened back home, so I can avoid further punishment. We went home (my parents both worked and were not yet home), I changed out of my school uniform and go next door to my grandparents’ home for my evening snack. My grandfather takes one look at me and immediately bristles. Turns out, the teacher’s smack had left marks for 3 of her fingers on my cheek (you could have drawn an outline of her hand) that I could not see but he obviously had.
He asked me what happened and of course, I narrated everything from my point of view. Again, I’m narrating this to him from a point of view of ‘I messed up, I’m sorry’ without even thinking that there was more to the story. He asked me to get ready and that we were heading back to school right now. Still unclear why, I complied, he put me on the backseat of his bicycle, and off we went to the school.
The school was mostly empty and we went straight to the Principal’s office. My granddad points at my cheek and tells the Principal that the PE teacher did that and asked if that is how they deal with kids who make mistakes. He was really angry by that point and demanded to see the PE teacher right away.
So the Principal sends for her and my grandfather asked her, ‘If you slap him on his cheek and he loses his hearing, will you be at his side throughout his life helping him hear right? He made a mistake, yes but how dare you slap him so hard that I can see your handprint on his face! You apologize to him right now.’
The PE teacher realized the folly of her action and apologized to me. There I was, standing inside the Principal’s office hearing the teacher say ‘I’m sorry’ and I had no idea how to react. I mumbled something in response and went even nearer to my grandfather and he took me back home.
It took me a few more years to realize the seriousness of the issue (I had gotten to know kids who had hearing issues from repeatedly being smacked on the cheek by that point). But just creating a fuss about it and criticizing the teacher at home was one issue. But my grandfather taking me straight to the Principal’s office and making the PE teacher apologize stuck with me. I miss my grandfather a lot now!”
Typical Vice Principal Behavior
“Important to note that this happened a few months post-Columbine. I was called into the office where the principal, assistant principal, a police officer, and my son were sitting in the room. It was the fall of my first year teaching in the school as well as my son’s junior year in high school. The assistant principal told me that another student, a friend of my son’s, had been reported for having a ‘hit list.’ The AP had issues with my son’s friend and, to my way of thinking, bullied him. My son had always been on the periphery of this and I had had no real issue to address. Had I been the friend’s parents, I would have.
The friend came from a difficult family. The AP asked my son about the friend and him eating breakfast and lunch with the same few friends. What had the friend said? Where might the alleged list be? My son had no answers. The AP said, very clearly, that people might say there was no guilt by association but he knew full well that there really was. I felt my back stiffen.
Then the police officer asked my son if he went on the Internet. My son said yes. The officer asked if he looked at things that would make his mother upset. My son’s face burned scarlet. He was a 17-year-old boy what do you think? I told my son to be honest and that if what he was looking at was what most 17-year-old boys looked at, he should feel free to tell them. He gave a short, embarrassed answer. All the men in the room looked away from me.
The AP then swooped in and demanded that my son answer him about the hit list. My son said he couldn’t, he didn’t know of any list.
The AP then said something like this, ‘If it were up to me, I’d throw your sorry rear end in jail and let you think about this for a day or two.’
And that’s when I said, ‘I want a lawyer in this room. Right now. Not one more word until there is a lawyer.’
The room exploded, ‘No! no! We don’t need that,’ came from the officer and the principal. The AP remained silent and glaring.
I told them that if that was the case, they would let my son leave and if I heard one word, one look, one aside about my son, I would be bringing a lawyer.
My son’s friend was suspended and then expelled from school until he had a psych evaluation. At the time, the family would have had to pay for it. They didn’t and the friend drifted away. Last we heard, life wasn’t good for him. He wasn’t and isn’t violent, just a sad story.
To this day, however, my son will occasionally bring up the day that I stood up to my bosses (the principal and AP) and the police. He does so with pride and awe. He said he was truly afraid that they would put him in jail for what he really didn’t know. Me? I felt like a mother bear on steroids for my son. Had I been able to ‘save’ his friend, I would have. That is my only regret.”
That Feels A Little Unfair
“Yes, I did have to stand up for my then-girlfriend’s oldest son in Junior High. He and my son became best friends (still are, at age 40) and I often was at school events for one or both of them. Nathan had been struggling in school and getting into minor trouble. He complained that the assistant principal in particular was out to get him. I took that with a grain of salt until witnessing it myself.
We all went to a convocation, my son, Nathan, and I. I had been standing with a group of other adults before things got started but all the students were seated in the gym bleachers. One school rule was that hats and caps could not be worn inside the school, but typically, many of the boys would try to get away with wearing a ball cap during events in the gym; many had on caps this day. Suddenly the assistant principal’s voice rang out and everyone quieted down. She singled out Nathan, sitting high in the bleachers, and admonished him in front of all the students and parents for wearing his ball cap. There were dozens of other kids wearing their caps.
After the convocation, I sought out the principal. I explained I would like to hear an explanation for what had happened. I thought maybe I would find that Nathan had just been warned earlier about wearing a cap, although I thought the situation was handled inappropriately. The principal asked me to make a written complaint, which I thought was a bit unusual. I did so and sent it to the school.
A few days later I got a letter from the principal. He explained that the assistant principal admitted that she had become frustrated with Nathan’s little transgressions and had been overreacting to anything he did. She apologized to him in one of his classes in front of his fellow students for her action at the convocation.
At the same time, this seemed to call for me to intervene directly with Nathan; my girlfriend was Ok with me having a conversation with him about his situation at school. We talked about the big picture so to speak, and how even if he wanted to see the whole school experience as terrible and useless, he still needed to figure out how to get along in school and get through the experience. We continued having these talks and the incidents of misbehavior at school stopped. He went on to complete junior high and high school with no more incidents and is a successful husband, dad, and cop now.”