Friday, September 6, 2013

Why We Left the Charter School

I have been talking about our "new" school. I guess I should explain how this all came about. Six years ago we had moved to our community and Jordan was going into first grade. I had to choose a school and from everyone had told me our public school was no where near a good choice. I had a friend whose children attended a charter school that is very close to our home, and her kids loved it. Not knowing much at the time as to what to look for in a school, I enrolled Jordan. School has always come easily to Jordan so the higher expectations of the charter school were great for pushing him academically. A couple years later I enrolled Joey into kindergarten at the same school. That was the year the school suggested I have him tested for ADHD and he started getting his label as a "problem child".  First grade for Joey was rough because they had to keep switching out teachers therefor teaching styles, due to his teacher being diagnosed with breast cancer. His teachers diagnosis was difficult for Joey and so was the always changing teachers. Second grade wasn't much better; my child who has almost no organizational skills had a teacher he absolutely adored but the teacher was more disorganized then Joey. Joey started getting detentions more than I would have liked due to incomplete assignments or missing assignments (I honestly don't think this was solely because of Joey). Jacob had started at the school about this time, and he excelled in his class (another child that school comes easily to). There were a couple little hiccups but nothing that really go under my skin about the school, and halfway through the year I was hired in as a lunch aide.

Last year is when all the trouble started, mainly revolving around Joey. His label as a "problem child" had not only followed him but the list of reason had been added to. The school had switched their discipline policy and homework policy. So when a kid didn't complete all their assignments they would lose their lunch recess (their only recess). Lunch detention was now for making up assignments the children were sent to sit in the office for any behavioral discipline. Let me just say that Joey is a very active kid, so when he'd lose his recess he ended up with built up energy and had a hard time focusing in class. His not focusing in class lead to him distracting other student, and that landed him in the office for the day. I'm not saying that my child should not have been expected to sit quietly in class, but when my child spends more time in the office than the classroom there's a problem. It became a vicious cycle; Joey wasn't in the room to learn the material, the assignment was not completed, he'd lose recess, his built up energy distracted other students, he was sent to the office where he didn't have anyone teaching the class material. He tried extremely hard to do the assignments, but the school wasn't following his 504 plan; so if he wrote his 15 spelling words 3 times each but not the 5 times like they had asked he'd lose recess (in his 504 it states he needs shorten assignments). One day Joey was finally granted permission to go to recess and he had broken someone's snowball in the process of trying to help them make it smaller; he was given a 2 day in school suspension for destruction of property. I fought to have him placed back in class and the assistant principal literally yelled at me that I was raising my kids to be disrespectful brats. Later she called to apologize and ended up hanging up on me because I wouldn't back down on not having him suspended. I'm sorry, but snow isn't anyone's property (granted the students weren't allowed to make snowballs), and it had been an accident the student and Joey both had told her this.

I was not happy with the way things were being handled with Joey and know full well that there were other children who were not being held to the same disciplinary standards. My nephew was also label as a "problem child" until I brought in proof that he was autistic. Jordan had always been placed in the school's enrichment program, where he would have higher grade level work on top of his grade level work, just to help challenge him. The school started marking down his grades for wrong answers on his enrichment work. So my 6th grade honor roll student was now failing because he wasn't getting good grades on his 8th grade math. It started to feel like they were targeting my kids. I decided it was time to look into other schools.

The icing on the cake was 8 days before school was out for the summer, I had taken my boys for their summer hair cuts. This is the 3rd year they had mohawks for the last week of school. I was called into the principal's office and was told they were in noncompliance with the school dress code. Past years this had never been a problem, because technically they nether had carved or sculptured hair. I was told to either "fix" their hair or start our vacation early, that shaving them bald would work as "fixed". That basically left me with no options other to start our vacation. I told him that we'd start our vacation and I wouldn't be returning as a lunch aide. He informed me that he had just receive a request to transfer their records from the other school. He proceeded to inform me that even though I think I'm making the right choice by switching schools, that I'm really not. That my kids will still always be in trouble at their new school or any school I put them in. We had planned on leaving gracefully as of the last day of school, but that didn't look like it was going to happen. We started our vacation that day. I have no intentions of any of my boys being in trouble at any school and don't/won't label them as trouble makers. When he made that comment, I knew that me feeling of my boys being targeted were more founded than I had thought.

So, that's the reasoning behind why we switched. I have no ill feeling towards charter schools in general and I still won't talk poorly about the charter school we left, just the way my family had been treated there. The school does have very dedicated and fantastic teachers, but in my opinion the administration could do with updating.