We had a great first quarter. Movie Boy made honor roll! Three A’s, and three B’s. He also got a perfect score on his first quarter city-wide math exam. I credit a lot of this success to the fact that we removed him from PE. Without worrying about that environment, he can relax and concentrate on his studies. In the meantime, we keep him physically active and in positive social situations by involving him in football and swim team.
But, yesterday, at 3:30, I got a call from the Assistant Principal. She told me that he had been involved in an incident in the cafeteria, where he “discharged” his inhaler at two girls. I asked what prompted it — she did not know. She said an investigation would be conducted. I told her that Movie Boy does not initiate conflict. There is more to the story than just he did this in a vacuum. She didn’t know. She didn’t know much. She told me she was going to have Movie Boy write a statement, to which I replied “No, you won’t. He is not to write or sign anything without me present.” She said she would send the form home.
I called his case manager. By now, it was around 4 p.m. He was not aware of the situation. Really? I mean, this is his CASE MANAGER. The case manager’s explanation? “The APs are my bosses, I don’t tell them what to do. If they don’t want to include me in the loop, then they don’t.
I talked to Movie Boy. And then the pieces started falling together. I sent this note to his AP in lieu of filling out the form she sent home:
Dear Ms. AP,
This is in response to the request for an Incident Report. I am submitting this e-mail in lieu of the form, as a parent’s statement. I have instructed Movie Boy is not to sign any paperwork.
I spoke with Movie Boy this evening. Movie Boy explained that he was in line in the cafeteria, behind a girl named A—- and her friend (he does not know the friend’s name). He says A—- turned and noticed that he was behind her, and threw up her hands and yelled very loudly, “Oh come on!!”, meaning that she was irritated that Movie Boy was in line next to her. She made it clear to him that she did not like him being behind her.
Movie Boy has endured bullying from A—- in the past. He responded by saying, “We are only going to be in line together for a few minutes, Can you just put up with that?” After that, Movie Boy says he is not clear about what she said, because her voice got screechy and mean. At that point, she pushed him in the stomach. The two girls were laughing at him. Movie Boy did not leave the line, because he was afraid to lose his place in line. He got his food and went to his seat, away from her, and with his friends. The girls went to their seats.
Then he was approached by Miss G, who asked to talk to him. She took his inhaler. He returned to his lunch.
There have been a series of problems with A—-. Last year, in 6th grade, A—- smacked Movie Boy in the face. Another time, in PE, she jumped on him and scratched him when he picked up her ping pong ball. I communicated my concerns about repeated bullying last year. Movie Boy also communicated his concerns about A—- to his teachers this year – he asked his 7th grade subject teachers not to seat him near A—-, because he knows she will bully him. He finds her behavior to be aggressive and unpredictable. He says she bullies him, and then runs to the teacher and tries to get him in trouble.
Movie Boy also explained to me that he is not at all sure how to handle female bullies. He did not realize until we spoke this evening that girls can also be bullies. He does not know what to do when a girl is this mean to him. He is worried that because he is bigger and a boy, people won’t believe him. He says A—- has made it clear to him that she hates him, through her continued actions and words.
In addition to Movie Boy enduring continued bullying from this student, I am also concerned that he was without his inhaler for several hours. He is in the aftermath of a bout of bronchitis, he is under doctor’s orders to use his inhaler throughout the day whenever he coughs. He is coughing a lot, so needs the inhaler on a continual basis. As you know from his IEP, he is not proficient at asking for help or requesting visits to the nurse. In fact, we documented last year that he was resistant to visiting the clinic as he found it to be an intimidating environment. In light of this, and because he suffered a blow to his stomach, I find it concerning that he was never referred to the clinic for treatment, and that I was not contacted for several hours after the incident. Regardless of what else happened, I should have been notified immediately if he is injured or if he is separated from his inhaler.
As you know, Movie Boy has autism. Many children, including Movie Boy, have difficulty in loud and busy environments such as school cafeterias, and also with negative peer interactions. Both of these deficit areas are addressed in his IEP. In this particular situation, Movie Boy did not have access to his case manager, and his case manager was not informed of this situation.
Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss your strategy for protecting my child from continued aggression from this bully, proper management of his asthma care plan, and strategies to help him work on the relevant goals and objectives in his IEP to be successful in the cafeteria environment.