Where do I start on school complaint?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Where do I start on school complaint?
Mon, 06-28-2010 - 12:22am

Here is the very short version of what happened. First, my son had an IEP in grade school. Then in 5th grade, he tested and got in to the gifted program. The very abusive principal who would always punish him for things that didn't matter or did not happen and would name call him and whatever else said no way would she allow a "sped" to be in the gifted program at HER school. She held an ARD meeting, behind my back, and claimed I gave verbal permission over the phone for the meeting. She cancelled his IEP at that meeting. I pulled my son out the next day. The school made it clear I was up against a huge fight. She was swearing I gave verbal permission for everything and the district made it clear that they were taking her word for it and I called TEA and they told me I had to deal with the district who would tell me I had to deal with the principal. It was hell. I hate this school district.

I pulled him out to homeschool for the remainder of the time at that level, which was all of 14 weeks. I should have pulled him out sooner. He went off to 6th grade the next year. The next year, we moved. I wanted to move out of the district very badly but my DH only liked the houses and such where we live. So, we purchased in the same district, just different schools. The middle school seemed ok. (but then switched principals at the end and turned to hell, but not while my son was there. it was fine while my son was there). BUT, in 8th grade, we were having issues with some uncertified teachers doing things how they were not supposed to. (in Texas, you do not have to be certified to teach in the public schools). I fought tooth and nail and got my son's IEP back in to place that year. Almost as soon as it was in place, I was called in by two teachers who were proclaiming that children with disabilites cannot handle gifted classes and that they wanted my son OUT of their classes. I got the one teacher switched and the other one to tone down. During this time, I was told to contact the high school regarding some questions about the transcript as my son was taking algebra 1 in 8th grade which would be on his high school transcript. When I called the high school, someone blew up at me and hung up. I called back and someone at the school told me to tell the principal. I left a message for the principal. He called back and blew up at me and informed me that I deserved this treatment because I was a homeschooler. At the time, I was homeschooling my daughter who was younger than my son.

Months later, I was sent to the school to talk to them about registration. The principal said he wanted to talk to me personally and I got in there and he said he was recording the entire meeting. He was as nice as possibly could be during this recorded meeting. He also claimed to not recall that conversation where he said that about homeschooling. I thought all would be fine, but doubted that he forgot that blow up at me. I have heard from many people that this principal is awful and ruining the school, so I know I am not the only one with a problem. However, with the way public schools work in Texas, there is no entity really to complain about this who will do anything about it. Texas law says all schools are run on the local level (school board) and our local school board decided to make all the schools run on the campus level by the principals and will do nothing to interfere. AND, they have a 5 step process of complaining in the district which takes a couple years just to get at a higher level than the district.

SO, my son started in the fall and right away, I had a baby. The birth went poorly and I had an extended stay in the hospital. My son needed some papers turned in as soon as I got back from the hospital. I met him after school one day and gave him the signed papers to take to his gifted English teacher. This was about a half hour after school let out. I had all the children with me. We went to his classroom where he was just supposed to turn in the papers so we could leave. But the teacher just kept talking on and on to him. The baby started to cry, he was 4 weeks old at the time. I sat in the back of the classroom and breastfed him, completely covered. No other children were around but my own. But in reality, the law in Texas is that I have the right to breastfeed anywhere. A couple days later, I got a call from the principal calling me a pervert and saying I am not allowed in the building again. If I ever have business at the school, I am to sign in at the front office and he will direct me to a bathroom where I can feed my baby. I posted about it on a local area parenting board and then the district got tons of emails about what they did and how illegal it was. The superintendents office called me to apologize. They also told me I was welcome to breastfeed at the school, in the middle of the day, in the cafeteria if I wanted. However, the principal never apologized. The teacher made it clear she did not want my son in her class. But she was the only gifted English teacher and if I took my son out of her class, I had to take him out of the entire gifted program. Then, every time I walked in the front door at the school, I was ambushed by one of 2 different assistant principals who would tell me I am not welcome there.

In the end, the teacher refused to accept my son's final paper. She gave him a zero, claiming to have never received it. My son turned it in multiple times, I turned it in (emailed it and took it up where the assistant principal took it from me and said she was turning it in) and the special ed teacher had it turned in. Yet, the GT English teacher claimed to never get it. It was worth 35% of the final grade. He ended up with a 58 or 63 in the class for his final grade, both of which are F's (there was a 58 on the report card, but a 63 on the transcript, so unsure which is correct) SO, even if she only gave him a 25% on that paper, he would have passed the class. The whole thing at the end went down fighting with me begging for conferences and them being refused, everything.

I pulled my son out and enrolled him in a private school home study program. He did fine. He is lonely and wants to go back to school. I am unsure where to start on all that went wrong. I am not sure if it was the homeschooling, breastfeeding, or IEP. I belong to a homeschool legal defense association, but they deal with the legal right to homeschool, not the legal right to public school. If the breastfeeding is why things went like this, I would have to pay thousands of dollars to an attorney likely to take civil action. If it is the IEP, I am not positive, but I am thinking there are legal routes through the federal government that I can take.

Reason I think it could still be the IEP is because the gt teacher at the middle school so badly did not want my son in her class once he got his IEP. She claimed kids like him cannot handle classes like hers. She also told me she had trained the gifted English teacher who would be my son's teacher in 9th grade and informed me that my son would never be able to handle her class. I saw that 8th grade teacher in public the other day and she turned quickly and went the other way. I suspect the IEP may be the cause of this behavior because this behavior was going on before the breastfeeding. I think it is possible that the breastfeeding incident was just used as an excuse to mistreat my son. Not sure.

OK..my son would like to go back to school. What would you do? Just tell him sorry, this is where you are stuck, no public school, just homeschool? Or would you fight this, and if so, how? Where would you start?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-28-2010 - 1:32am

I apologize, I don't have time to read the entire post. I will try tomorrow.

however, your question at the end stuck with me. Your son has a right to "Free Appropriate Public Education". That is the short answer but if he does want to attend school he does have a right to appropriate public education. So the short of it is he can go to school but the decision I think really depends on you and your specific situation. I can't speak to that since I admittedly skimmed ;-0. Sorry.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-2006
Mon, 06-28-2010 - 2:41am

You also need to document EVERYTHING from now on! Don't talk to anyone on the phone. And if you do, follow it up in email (or better a letter) to document what they say. Get a calender and document what happened on what day. And then write down what was said.

If I were you I would do a search on pro-bono sped atty's texas and see what comes up. They would hear it and then decide whether they would take action or not.