WARNING, rant about Public School to follow.
OK, you’ve been warned.
When picking Wyatt up from school 2 days ago, this is what I immediately saw from 20ft away.
It was pouring down rain so we ran to the car and got him and all his medical gear loaded up in record speed. Once buckled up, I texted his one on one nurse asking what had happened to his leg. It’s a 3inch red scrape on his chin so I assumed he probably slipped and slid down the side of the playground equipment or something. It’s no big deal, I just wanted clarification. She replied saying she didn’t see him get hurt and also didn’t notice the scrape. Alright, again, no big deal, could have happened to anyone at any time. Kids play and bump into things without an adult noticing. I followed up by sending her a picture of his leg just to make sure she’s aware.
The next morning at car rider drop off, I’m greeted by his nurse, his teacher and the Assistant Principal which is out of the norm. Drop off went as usual but with just slight tension in the air. Then the Assistant Principal approached me and explained that she doesn’t know what happened to his leg and therefore she has to follow policy and call in a report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). I reiterated that Wyatt didn’t have the scrape when I dropped him off and that it was immediately visible when I picked him up so obviously it happened during school hours. Meanwhile my blood pressure is rising thinking you’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve heard about this policy before that the school now has to report everything when it is not clear how the bump, bruise or scrape happened. And while I totally understand the reasoning behind that policy for the kids who really are in bag home situations and also so the school can cover their behinds in questionable situations by having a third party investigation, DCF, that can provide objective documentation. It is a business after all and liability is the number one concern. But as a reasonable human being and parent, I’m standing there boiling inside thinking, this is a freaking simple scrape. Let’s not take a minor incident and completely blow it out of proportion. But, the - keep the peace and open lines of communication - side of me simply responded, “I understand you have to follow protocol”.
And then the dominoes started falling.
Not even an hour later I get a call from the Sherriff’s office saying a report was made and they along with DCF are on the way to the school to investigate. He also explained that afterward the DCF investigator would be coming to our house to interview every family member. “OK, I understand. Thank you!” was my ever polite response. So at this point you have the school following policy, the Sherriff’s office following their protocol and DCF following their checklist. Quite a few choice words came to mind on how ridiculous this is over a simple scrape but in this lawsuit happy world we live in, this scenario is just the consequence of helicopter parenting and finger pointing. The poor DCF guy, who btw also stated that this is silly but now that a report was filed he had to follow through, had to add to his case load a 2 hour interview with my family just to talk about a 3 inch scrape. He was a very nice guy and it went as smoothly as it could but man, I’m sure he has more important cases that could have benefited from his immediate attention.
After he left, I asked for a sit down meeting with the school Principal and Assistant Principal. For my own peace of mind, I could not just let this go without talking face to face so we could all move forward without bruised egos and walking on egg shells. I restated that I am not upset about the scrape or that they had to follow policy. But I also made sure to point out that even though according to their definition Wyatt is non-verbal, that does not mean he cannot tell us what happened (THANK YOU SIGN LANGUAGE!). If there is one thing Wyatt is obsessively good about, it’s telling us every single time he gets hurt just the slightest bit and he’ll continue to tell that story a hundred times for the next weeks. Evidence #1:
After showing that video to school administration, I voiced my concern that I do not appreciate the way this situation was handled. I now have the issue of not knowing when to trust them whether I’m being told the truth about Wyatt’s school day. While it is plausible that no one saw the actual incident, although there are 4 adults in this self-contained classroom of 10 students, I do not believe for one second that A) no one saw this scrape after the fact and B) that Wyatt didn’t communicate this incident to anyone. If there is one thing I cannot stand for it’s dishonesty. I’m not upset about the scrape or the DCF investigation but I am upset that no one is willing to say, “We dropped the ball on this one”. If it were handled that way, it would have changed the whole undertone of this investigation. I was under the impression that student safety and open communication with the parents should come before covering our butts due to liability concerns. Apparently I was naïve about that. I do give the Assistant Principal props for giving me a heads up on the reporting requirement. However, this still could have been handled so much better. It’s just shameful that business decisions and worrying about answering to your boss’s boss now come before human relationships.
Rant over. (This is the toned down version after 2 days of dealing with this.)
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