Friday, April 16, 2010

I'll Try to Keep this Light

My life has been turned inside out and upside down since March 24.

To make a very long story as short as possible, I will just explain enough to say that Hannah (my 15 year old) was attacked at school by 3 girls. Not jumped in some secluded area, but in full view of the on-staff police officer and the school resource officer (a man who could easily moonlight as a bar bouncer) right in front of the main office of the school. The school resource officer jumped in and took the hit intended for Hannah and was given a bloody lip. Yeah. Scary. Unbelievable these girls - no respect for authority, let alone fellow students.

Luckily the school surveillance camera caught the entire incident. The offenders have been charged with disorderly conduct and I have been to court to fight for orders of protection, which were granted.

The school principal, on the other hand, doesn't seem to think this incident is something he needs to be bothered with. Just another fight, one of many throughout the school day. Although I have presented him with a mountain of evidence that this is the result of months of bullying and harrassment by these girls, he continued to blame Hannah. Regardless of the fact that Hannah had been down 3 times to the office that week alone trying to get help, it is easier for him to take the stand that she must have deserved it somehow and now it's over. Not.

I don't use the word "hate" in speaking of other people very often. But, I will say I hate this man. I won't go into detail just because it is a very ugly story, but in keeping with my 'look on the bright side' attitude, I have to sing the praises of Michelle Bradley, the Assistant Superintendent, and Terry Ann Carbone, our Superindent of the school district.

Mrs. Bradley and I became acquainted with each other when she was a teacher at the elementary school my daughters attended. I was there a lot volunteering and, although Mrs. Bradley wasn't a teacher to any of my girls, we just hit it off. She eventually became the principal of the school and is now the Assistant Superintendent. I hadn't spoken to her in years, our paths just never crossed anymore, other than at some district school functions and it was simply a warm "hello how are you" kind of conversation. I continued to admire her and was always happy to see her.

A few months ago she contacted me because she had heard I was having difficulty with one of Hannah's teachers (another ugly story - some teachers just shouldn't be teachers) and at that time she told me if there was anything she could ever do for me, to let her know. I was so touched that she would get involved in such a minor incident (and don't even know how she found out) and I was again reminded of how much I like Mrs. Bradley. She is truly a Good Woman.

Well, after running into a dead end in trying to get the school to address the bullying and harrassment of Hannah, I was at my wit's end. In desperation, I called Mrs. Bradley to see what, if anything, the school district should be doing about the attack. She immediately got the Superintendent involved. Mrs. Carbone is one tough woman, let me tell you. She forced the principal to meet with Pete and I that very day to discuss the problem. I wish I had a tape of that meeting. She was wonderful! To see and hear her put this ignorant bastard in his place was so encouraging. Through her, Hannah has now been assigned a sort of "bodyguard" to escort her (discreetly) to her classes until Hannah feels safe. And if she never feels safe, the school would provide an at-home tutor. Anytime Hannah feels threatened she should come to the main office and seek his help.

This battle is far from over. Just last Friday, 3 different girls threatened Hannah and were getting ready to fight (taking out earrings and putting up their hair). She sought refuge in a classroom of a caring teacher until they passed and then went to the office to report the incident. The principal's response? To accuse her of being the problem and sent her home for the day! Let me again mention that I hate this man.

Needless to say, I am a nervous wreck when she leaves for school. I am now taking a prescription tranquilizer. I worry every second of the day she is there. I am sick to think that her memories of high school will be nothing she will want to remember. The school is completely useless in addressing the bullying problem. It's too big. The administration is too overwhelmed. Hannah wants to go to school and I put on my brave face and send her. She's stronger than me. I want to move, send her somewhere else, but from what I hear, that's not the answer - bullies are everywhere.

So what does any of this have to do with beading? Well, as a thank you to Mrs. Bradley and Mrs. Carbone, I made them post-it-note holders for their desk!

When I went with my mom to the stamp store a few weeks back, I picked up this tube of papery-fabric flowers. They are such fun to work with!

Here is the inside fabric for Mrs. Bradley's.
And the back:I used the same velvet, but made my favorite motif on Mrs. Carbone's. I added a hint of purple to match the fabric liner.

Today I'm going to the school (again). This time to meet with all of Hannah's teachers to set up a game plan to help her refocus on school work. Wish me luck. I will try to "Keep Calm and Carry On"


Carol said...

God Lynn, its such a sad situation and one that is repeated through out the country. We live in a rural area. Our grandkids would be going to a large school...5000 plus kids. The principal thinks its more important to maintain a school image than to admit there are bully, drug and racial problems. Luckily, my grandkids are in a smaller school that we are able to send them to. Its a whole different atmosphere and attitude.

I sincerely hope you get this situation worked out. Kids have way too many other pressures and should not be subjected to this lack of action.

On the brighter side...OMG!! You thank you gifts of appreciation are fantastic. I am sure that you will brighten their day!!
xx, Carol

Kells said...


I'm also a parent (though of a much younger daughter) and my heart broke for you as I read your post and thinking about how you must feel when your daughter leaves for school. However, that said, I am highly impressed at your dealings with it (as well as those COOL post it note holders, I have never seen anything like that!)

So while my heart broke when I heard the word bullying and your daughter, it's mended with your advocacy for your child and follow-up. Many parents would not have spoken up, many students would not have spoken up - just remind your daughter that this is about the bullies' issues and NOT about her.

Thank you for sharing this and I so hope things settle down for you and your daughter. Wishing you all the best!

Lariata said...

What the terrible stories! Sincerely wishing you good luck!

Lisa Criswell / Indigo's Beads said...

oh, lynn. this brought tears to my eyes. it's so sad that this continues to happen everywhere and what a terrifying situation for hanna to be in. that ass needs to be fired. i do hope you are keeping good records of all your meetings! hopefully if things continue you can continue to call on the ass't to help you out until it comes to an end that remedies the situation. i pray for her safety. kids should not be afraid to go to school. i was bullied in jr. high, and it made my life hell. i'd cry and beg my mom not to make me go. but back then it "wasn't an issue" like it is today. i admire her strength in carrying on and not giving in to these bullies. but i do want her to be safe. i am so sorry that you and your daughter are going through this.

on the beading side, what beautiful gifts! you continue to astound me with your creativity, beautiful work, choice of colors, patterns of beading, etc. i hope they appreciate the work and thought that went into these wonderful gifts!

Joyce said...

So sorry to hear about this situation. There are a lot of horrendous teachers and principals out there. Moving and sending her to a new school is not that bad of an idea. Whatever provoked those bullies may not provoke people at another school. I am glad you have people on your side though. Love those post it note covers!

Plays with Needles said...

This post has me so pissed off yet scared at the same time. I can see why you've had to take tranquilizers -- I commend you for fighting...for going to the superintendent and asst. super-- for making them those awesome notepads...

But I also wouldn't rule out moving Hannah altogether to another school. Life is hard enough some days without having to live in fear of being beaten up.

Tell Hannah she's tougher than those bullies will ever be. I admire her courage...and yours. I think it's worse to be in your position...

My husband Jim is a second-degree black belt and he says he's happy to give Hannah some lessons. We're actually thinking of heading North this Summer in August...maybe he'll get the chance...

I'm praying for you both. Much love, Susan

peggy aplSEEDS said...

it is terrible that some adults who work with children don't know how to deal with these matters, even making the bad situation worse. i think the suggestion for lessons in self defense may be a good idea, not teaching the child to fight but just to defend herself. may you have the wisdom to know what is the best thing to do and to help your child become stronger because of this challenge.

*~tabby~* crooked heart art said...

this is terrible lynn!!!
and i hope you can get more support in letting people know that this is not right!!!!
have you tried contacting your local news station?? i would-it would help bring attention to people who don't know that this is being accepted at you daughters school and the principals attitude in doing nothing to stop this kind of senseless violence
i have you and your family in my prayers
x's & o's tabby

Beadwright said...

I know I am late with my comments. However, what you are describing is happening in schools all over the country. I am so sorry Hanna is a victim of what we call schools. My nephew goes to one of the worse high schools in Sacramento. Everyday there are fights, stabbings, and just general chaos. If you are taking meds to calm down I can't imagine what Hanny must be feeling having to go to school everyday.
The post it holders are beautiful and I will keep Hanna in my safe thoughts.

Whimsical Creations said...

How scary!! What is wrong with people?! I am so sorry your daughter and family have to go through this.

{I was attacked in school by another girl when I was about 13. It was a nightmare. My parents ended up getting the police involved.}

GraceBeading said...

Hi Lynn, I came to see your BFAC project and saw a quick not about your daughter, I had to leave that post and come here to read it. My heart breaks for you and for your daughter. God damn that principal and anyone that just shoves this kind of stuff aside - they should be fired and stoned. And God bless Mrs. Bradley and Mrs. Carbone for stepping up and stepping in and doing what's right for your daughter. I am left wondering what kind of parenting these other girls have been subjected to that let's them think this is acceptable behavior. I cried for you, your daughter and even for the misguided girls that think this was okay as I don't imagine their lives will ever amount to much.

The thank you gifts are obviously heart felt and absolutely beautiful. Bless you Lynn and your daughter, I hope it's all just a bad memory ... soon!

beadbabe49 said...

so sorry to hear the trials you and your daughter are going through...I was also surprised that the charge against the other girls was disorderly conduct instead of assault!

dochoamom said...

Hi Lynn, wow a lot of response on this one. I agree that moving her could possibly be an option. And my first thought was self-defense/martial arts lessons, but with 3 on one that might not help much. High school is so scary these days. And that principal is just taking the easy way out. Good for you that you are fighting for her though. What else would we do as parents. But some don't possibly the parents of those girls... who knows the story there.

I have Missy in a smaller school that she doesn't like, but the alternative is one with over 2,000 kids. Scary being a parent these day...

Prayers and coping energy coming your way. Stay up!

Love, Deb