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Parents Spark Backlash After Circulating Petition To Have Problematic Child Removed From Classroom

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It’s in our instincts to protect our children.  Every being in the animal kingdom fiercely defends its young when they feel their babies are under threat.

That extends to the human race.  We are very reactive when we feel our kids are being threatened.  As such, we tend to take strong action to protect them.

So ReadFrozen did.  But after their strong action, ReadFrozen didn’t know if they’d overstepped.

They came to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to receive some clarification.

They asked:

“AITA for circulating a petition to have a child removed from my kid’s class?”

The Original Poster, or OP, set the scene for us.

“My daughter’s third grade class has a kid in it who has something gravely wrong with her. I don’t know if she’s chemically imbalanced or what the deal is, that part isn’t really my business, I just know that how it manifests is the child is highly disruptive to the learning environment.”

“This girl will throw fits in the middle of class, total melt downs with cursing and shouting, that grinds instruction to a halt. And worse, she’ll be very mean (beyond cliquey. Like, needling into kids deepest insecurities and making them not want to come to school.)”

As a concerned parent, OP approached the teacher in order to find an actionable solution.

“I brought my concerns to the teacher after my daughter outlined her initial few encounters with her and the teacher suggested some conflict management strategies for my daughter to try, which led me to believe it was an issue between the two of them personally (my child and this other one.)”

“But then I found out from other parents that their kids reported identical issues with the girl. We all got together and spoke to the teacher and she said that while she really wanted to help us that she was bound by certain privacy laws about exactly what she could and could not say.”

So, without a clear path forward, OP tried to approach the child’s mother.

“So we went to the mother of the girl (specifically I and one of the dad’s did, so she wouldn’t feel bombarded but wouldn’t be able to brush it off as one rude parent’s misplaced blame.)”

“She vaguely said that yes her daughter is ‘dealing with some things.’ But that experts have recommended it would be best for her to work through them in a regular classroom environment and to learn norms being surrounded by her same aged peers.”

Unfortunately, the child’s mother was not as receptive as they’d hoped.

“We tried to delicately communicate that her learning whatever she is was coming at the expense of all the other kids learning their academics and feeling socially safe.”

“But she more or less said, in a kind but firm way, ‘Welcome to public school. Your kids are going to have to get along with all kinds of people.’”

OP and other parents tried other solutions, to no avail.

“We first approached higher ups trying to instigate them to offer them an IEP [Individualized Education Program).

We were eventually able to find out they had been extended services and turned them down (and I don’t think we were even supposed to know that much.)”

And so arose the petition.

“We are now petitioning to have the child removed from the classroom. There is a camp that feels as though this is against the foundational principles of the education system.”

“That everyone should be able to partake who wants to and if we don’t like it we should take our kids out instead of forcing them somewhere they don’t want to be or don’t feel is best for their child.”

And OP doesn’t know how to reconcile personal philosophy with the needs of their child.

“Before this instance I would have completely agreed. So, now I’m wondering, am I the a**hole for doing this?”

Redditors helped OP by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Reddit was somewhat divided in their responses to OP.

“As someone who has been on multiple sides of this type of equation; first as a teacher and now as a therapist you are absolutely the a**hole. I get your concern for your child but she needs exposure to ‘difficult’ people or she’s going to grow up with a very altered, unrealistic perception of the world.”

“The teacher is right to recommend conflict management skills, but what you’re doing is wildly inappropriate. It adds to the stigma of mental health and developmental issues, and it’s absolutely unethical for a group of parents to be basically harassing the school into trying to force a family into accepting an IEP plan.”

“There is only so much the school can legally do here and you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. Also – these people are teaching during a pandemic. They have enough stress.”

“You have absolutely no idea what this family could be going through and you’re 100% likely adding to their pain. Why would you want to make this situation worse for these people?”

“This is a time to talk to your daughter about differences, conflict and empathy – which it sounds like all you parents need to foster a bit yourself. God forbid your child develops a mental health or developmental issue in her teen years.”

“You would never want parents ganging up on you and your kid if you were in this family’s position.”~Pandaswife95

“You’re Glossing over the fact that the parents were offered professional help by the school for their child which they turned down.”

“That puts it firm in NTA for me. There’s difficult people and there’s people who need mental professional help to function.”

“This child is not being difficult, she needs serious help and if the parents won’t accept it then the child needs some kind of CPS intervention.”

“Now If the parents of the child have done their absolute best to get them help then I would see an issue with attempting to get the child removed as it would be more like parents bullying a kid and being entitled.”

“But it seems to me like the parents of that kid are NOT utilizing the schools resources and are making every other child suffer.”

“The parents of every other kid have been having issues and are trying to help and have hit the end of what they feel is possible.”

“It is not at all fair to have multiple kids suffer because of one. I feel for her because she’s struggling but her parents must step up and accept help not just have everyone else cater to their kid and have everyone else figure out how to cope when they should be taking care of their kids mental health.”~Taliasimmy69

“NTA. Teacher here. Kids deserve the opportunity to learn — that’s what they are in school for — and if a child is preventing that from happening, the child needs to be put in a different environment.”

“It’s also unfair to the troubled child who is not in an environment with the resources to support her needs — as is evidenced by the behavior.”~Tigerkitty50

“NTA. It is reasonable for you to expect that your kid can learn uninterrupted in a classroom without being insulted.”

“It boggles me that there are so many YTA…”

“Its basically saying you are TA for trying to make sure your kids learns and is not insulted everyday in school.”

“I fully expect to be downvoted.”

“This kid OP is talking about is not normal. Trying to give them a normal environment with normal classmates has made the other kids class life abnormal.”

“Being insulted and constantly interrupted by the same person is not normal nor should it go undisciplined.”~Order66-Cody

In a complicated situation where several people have failed all of the children involved, it’s no wonder this is a polarizing topic.

“A group of adults is ganging up to essentially drive an eight year old out of a public school classroom. Does that really sound reasonable? Kind?”

“ESH. This girl obviously needs help that her parents aren’t getting her. But she’s a child in a public school and your actions as a group to try to bully her out of school aren’t the way to handle this, either.”~milee30

“NTA! NTA! Ive always thought that if someone is destructive to the classes learning environment they need to be dealt with, ideally having an aid who can be there to assist them or remove the child in case of a melt down is a good balance.”

“If the parents are refusing then the problem child should be removed. This kid is bullying others so she should be in a solo class until she gets over it. Having rejected the IEP is problematic to the rest of the class and the one parent shouldn’t get to mess up the rest of the classes education.”

“As the rest of the parents you can petition all you want but it may not work. Good luck.”

“However this is an up hill battle. You’re better off aiming to switch your kid to another class without a problem student. NTA for also looking out for the other kids though.”

“I’ve been in the role of classmate. I had to deal with a kid like this all through elementary. It was nearly impossible to get through a single lesson without a meltdown.”

“These meltdowns caused all learning for the day to stop so teacher could handle the one student. Unfortunately because first grade went so badly it was easier for the school to stick the students who fell behind in one class together through 6th grade to try playing catch up together.”

“We all stayed dumb. I got bullied by the rest of the grade for being in the stupid class. Everyone knew it was the stupid class. In 7th grade when we split up I and half the original class failed our main subjects.”

“Because of one student the district couldn’t deal with they handicapped 18 other kids.”

“All through middle school I needed tutors and summer school pretty much redo grades 1-6 and catch up to my peers. Please take your kid to another class before she ends up stunted like I was.”~Luna-Strange

“Gonna probably go against the grain and say YTA.”

“Look, I was that problem child once and instead of people trying to understand me, I got shunted off with an IEP to a classroom full of other disruptive kids. We didn’t learn anything. We weren’t taught anything.”

“We were badly punished if we had even a toe out of line. We couldn’t make friends in that classroom as we weren’t allowed to interact with other and we hated each other because the IEP teachers pitted us against one another.”

“We were talked down to, told we would be in jail before we finished school, that none of us would amount to anything. SO MUCH abuse goes on in those classrooms. So much neglect.”

“I’m 24 years old and I never learned anything above basic math. I can’t succeed in college because no one taught me any of the base material and I have problems learning myself. I have actual PTSD from it all.”

“She’s a child. In third grade. That’s like 7/8. If she is going through things, she might soon grow out of it. But sticking her in those classrooms is only going to make her worse. They do not help you in them.”

“They neglect you and treat you like you’re worthless and this kid might be trouble but she deserves to at least turn 10 before she’s shoved off to the side and considered worthless and a problem child who is going to end up in jail.”

“It’s not an ideal situation. It’s terrible she’s being like that especially to other kids. But abandoning kids in those sh***y IEP ‘classrooms’ is not the answer.”~5koalasinatrenchcoat

“Tricky one.”

“I feel like given that they turned down the extra services they were offered, they are making it more everybody else’s problem to deal with their daughter, rather than focussing on helping her deal with the world around her.”

“This makes it unfair on the rest of the kids and without knowing her special circumstance it’s hard to take any mitigating factor into account because you don’t know if there is one.”

“The suspicious side of me wonders if that’s the reason they won’t share what it is – not so much the privacy aspect but that, whatever it is, the condition doesn’t elicit sympathy.”

“Therefore, you have to put the needs and wellbeing of your daughter first.”

“If they were willing to take the extra help, it would be more difficult to call because they would be showing that they are doing their outmost to help their daughter cope in a regular setting.”

“So, NTA. Maybe it will also be the push the parents need to understand that if they want her to be in a regular setting, they’ve got to commit to doing everything possible to make that a viable option – first and foremost, for the benefit of their own child.”~LizardManelli

As education systems in the USA are deeply deeply flawed, even the resources offered by the school may not be enough to help this child.

“NTA, to me it seems like a lot of people focused on the child in question being kicked out. That child is struggling, if what OP is saying is true then the child is struggling and with them they are taking down the other kids.”

“The parents and the school should find a more personal setting for the child as a means to work on whatever is causing this behaviour. Condemning an entire class of kids to subpar education and bullying just because one child has a problem is not the answer.”

“Instead of letting 19 kids out of a class of 20 suffer just to keep the 20th kid happy why not find a solution that gives the 19 kids chance to do well in school without worrying about bullying and unnecessary meltdowns and the 20th child a chance to be in an atmosphere where they get more hands on attention.”

“The goal should be to work on improving the child’s behaviour and wellbeing so they can eventually rejoin a class, the goal shouldn’t be to try to improve the wellbeing and behaviour of 1 child at the expense of the wellbeing and behaviour of the rest of the class.”~sig_1

“You are not the AH for worrying about your child’s education.”

“You ARE the AH for petitioning for a specific child to be removed from a class, but lightly, because I understand where you’re coming from and how difficult the situation is and how powerless you probably feel over it.”

“Here’s the thing: the teacher and the school are limited in this situation. All students in the US are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) as upheld by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).”

“The same act requires students to be put into the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), which it sounds like she already is if the mother is saying experts have recommended it would be best for her daughter to be in a regular classroom.”

“There is probably very little the teacher or the school can do. On top of that, while and IEP can be offered, parents are well within their rights to refuse evaluations for an IEP, which sounds like what the parent is doing.”

“YTA because you are pushing for something that cannot be done. By asking for the school to take that child out of the classroom, you are asking them to go against several rights established in IDEA.” 

“This is, of course, based only in the information given in the post.”~rileytxt

“YTA. I am speechless. I am a teacher.”

“It’s the middle of a pandemic. You have no idea what is happening in that child’s life. Everyone is being pushed and stressed; students, teachers, parents, administration.”

“How would you feel if it was YOUR CHILD getting a petition circulated about them? I know, I know, you’re going to say ‘But MY child would never act like that.’ Well STFU.”

“Every kid deserves an opportunity at education and hands are (I don’t even want to say because even though its true YTA) but hands are tied in situations like this.”

“It’s public school. Teachers and administrators don’t get to pick and choose students in their class. If they could, I feel like you might be a parent that would cause teachers to say anyone but OPs kid in my class.”

“If you and these other parents are going to be such stuck up snotty assholes pull your own kids out and send them to private school.”

“Shut down the petition before you and these other parents get horrible reputations with staff for being uncaring, able-ist, judgemental, horrible bullies the next two years while your children are still at this school.”~sapphirekiera

“YTA. I’ll probably get downvoted for this but I gotta say it. Everyone deals with assholes in school. I personally have and I’ve been bullied till the day I left high school.”

“It wasn’t a walk in the park Believe me when I say I’ve seen my fair share of assholes. This kid doesn’t seem like a bully.”

“She’s an asshole who’s going through a hard time and you signing a petition to remove her is only gonna make it worse. You don’t even know what the problem is.”

“She might have a bad home life or she might have some mental illness. The school has no compelling reason to expel her so any number of petitions you sign are not gonna make it happen.”

“This will make her behavior more terrible. Your solution is to find what the problem with that kid is and solve it.”

“Talk to the principal and see if they can hire a counselor or a therapist for the kid. If she moves to another school, she’ll only make life miserable for other kids in other schools.”

“It’s not your job but it’s the right thing to do. Find the root of the problem and solve it.”~DildoFappings

The education system and the parents involved have created a difficult situation for the children.

Who knows the best way to resolve this?  But either way, we hope it gets resolved.

Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.