Just in case friends with RAD kids read my blog, I'm sharing an email I sent to my son's new principal. I think it's empowering to advocate for our kids. I'll let you know how it turns out.
To Whom it may concern:
I am very apprehensive as a parent at the reports my son, Tater Vyne, is giving me about his experience at ________ Middle School. After asking for a meeting several times, I have finally been given a date in two weeks. I would prefer to be more proactive before things escalate further, so I'm writing to take swift action on his behalf.
Before Tater was born, he was exposed to cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and untold violence in the womb. His birthmother was in fostercare herself and gave birth to him at age 14. The trauma of this beginning has led Tater into having attachment issues which takes the form of not being able to trust. Our family was able to adopt him after some years, and he's in specialized therapy now with __________. Please call her if you need further insight (phone). We have also had intensive family therapy in 2008 for him with ___________ (phone) in North Carolina. _______is a wonderful resource for our family as well.
February 2009, after many years of homeschooling, our family decided to put Tater in school.
We met with __________ at North Middle in _____________ and met with his teachers regularly to check on his progress. His teachers and administrators gave glowing reports. He hit one rough patch one day that I know of in his time at North Middle. He struggled in pre-algebra but did well academically otherwise. The cooperation and communication with North Middle couldn't have been better.
When we moved here in October, Tater asked to transfer to your school though his North principal told him and us something like, “We don't want to lose you. We hope you will be able to finish this year with us!” __________, assistant principal, may also have input for you concerning Tater (phone). From what his teachers told us, Tater chose friends very well and was a good student.
Now that Tater has transferred to your school, it appears this is no longer the case. Tater reported to me that he was on some kind of “bad kid list”. He understands this to be a list of children the school is watching to fail or kick out. I'm also concerned that he said his “new best friend” was arrested for “being set up” with oregano in an Altoids can in his locker. I haven't met this young man, but I worry that Tater has suddenly started choosing friends poorly. Furthermore, if this “bad kid” list exists, why is the school asking to meet with us immediately? Wouldn't working with parents be the first step in helping children get on the right path? I haven't taken my son out of the chaos of fostercare to adopt him into our good home with a loving family, only to have him be walk into drugs and violence introduced at school. We have nothing of that in our home.
As you know, Tater's first introduction to ______ Middle was a bully on the bus who slapped him the first week and threatened him for several weeks after. Hopefully, this has all been dealt with, but all my children were terrified when the police came to our house asking for statements. Our family has never had any cause to have the police intervene. Imagine my eight year old daughter asking, “Is it safe in our new home? Will that boy bring a gun here tonight before the police can come back to help us?” Imagine what this experience does to a boy with trust and safety issues? When my husband followed the bus to school the day after the slapping, Buck was told at the office, “Just tell your son not to make friends with that boy.” Buck and I asked for meetings with teachers to open communication and were told more than once, “Wait until your son has some grades to discuss.”
This is what I consider a negative start, and my hopes in writing and meeting is to turn it around. I hope to start working together with you. I hope to let you know, as his parents, we see a trend developing which must be addressed right away. We are open to suggestions on how to proceed, and look forward to working through to a positive experience with you on behalf Tater at ______ Middle School.
**Update: The principal called me and chatted for quite awhile last night. I told her my concerns, and she asked how the school could help. She apologized for how the school has fallen short. I asked her to talk with her teachers about advocating for my son: putting him in the front in classes in which he's not succeeding, moving him away from people with whom he might make trouble, calling me when he's not choosing friends well, calling me when he's not living up to his potential academically. She told me to email her anytime and said she'd meet with me or any other parent when asked. She begged patience as this is her first year, and she needs time to learn and understand the culture. I'm impressed again with her humility and care for parents and children.