So there the principal was, on my voicemail telling me I had been accused of hitting a student. My mind raced in disbelief, I did what?!
I immediately called her and went back over the events of the day, trying to wonder, how any actions I took could be perceived as hitting.
The principal listened and told me to be calm and write just the facts, as they are, and be prepared to speak to parents.
Something she said though, was quite confusing. “The students both agreed you hit C, in good fun.”
What, in the world? “In good fun?!” Both students said I hit him or her in fun?!
I’m sitting there feeling aghast. I am someone who went through child abuse. To be accused of violence, of any kind, towards a child…. It shakes me. I’m some kind of monster to these kids that they think they can tell others this?
I call a fellow from C’s last school, another music teacher, and ask if they knew anything about this child. I learned a lot. I broke down and cried, here I am, telling the truth. I’m going to get fired.
The last person who upset C’s family was smeared across the local papers. Lost their position. No idea how they will ever teach again.
Fired or suspended. For breaking up a fight and writing up students who needed to be written up.
How could both say such a thing?! Wait… How can both say that? Like say the same thing?
“Well did you leave them alone at all?”
The office, the library, the hallway.
“Rookie mistake G, really. You’re more clever than that! Don’t worry, you’ll see, it’ll be fine.”
I hang up feeling worse, and my parents call. Suddenly it’s “how could this happen to me?” The river of tears version.
My father, blessed with good old English sense, logically tells me to calm down. He goes through the facts I’ve presented, tells me to write it all out in my best handwriting. “The truth will come out in the meeting, it always does.”
I sniffle into the phone my thanks and tearfully text my best bud, M. He calls me back, which I am completely grateful that he does. M has lots of HR experience, he gave me a new perspective on the whole business. I learned people will do anything to bring another person down with them. Redirect from the real problem. He also agreed the truth would come to light.
I hung up with him thinking “How could they do this to me!” Angry version.
I have never, and will never hit a child. Never.
I am able to get to sleep, it doesn’t matter what may happen in the morning; I’ve done nothing wrong. I keep saying this as I drift off.
We leave early the next day, statement in navy ink in hand. Drop off was uneventful. I arrive, copy my statement, and wait for my Principal.
Principal M arrives, and with some difficulty deflects, delegates, and assures us into her office. This must be a principal skill. I always get stuck in parental quagmire.
She reads my statement and seems to recognize some student behavior in my account, I see her eyebrow raise at the “we were just playing,” part. If I had a nickel…
She explains to me the process, I go do my job, the parent(s) arrive with or without the student, when the parent asks I am brought up or I may be offered to be included for testimony.
The parents may refuse to see me at all or demand my presence right away.
The principal is not one for patting people on the back in sympathy, but I was assured if I was truly that type of individual, she’d have discovered it by now. I’d be gone. That made me feel good, she believed me.
So for the next 3 hours I worked, I even got into what I was doing. I admit, every time someone knocked at my door, I tensed up.
Finally, lunch bell rings. I have to go. Are they still talking? Is it too late? Am I going to be taken in front of the board? Did they want a full day from me before I got the news?
I fast teacher walk to the front. I swear everyone stopped me on my way up! Can’t you see I’m on the way to discover my fate!?
I walk in, the principal is speaking with community members and I hang back. I think oh please don’t be here about me!
They leave and the principal bestows upon me the most wonderful smile.
Apparently C’s parents are not concerned about my actions because I was “playing around.” They were much more worried about the fight and ways to prevent fights in the future. The principal kept telling them I did not strike C though, but the parent’s countered it didn’t matter, they know I was playing. I was offered to meet them, if they wished to question me, but again it didn’t matter because I was “just playing.”
It was…. my face people. I must have looked like a carp.
The principal looked at me and said “I know,” and that no formal anything would be brought against me. It was suggested I watch out for C in the future.
I was in shock and walked back to my room thinking….. “What just happened?”
Like a balloon being prepared to be popped by a needle and accidentally let go at the last second. Woosh!
A supervisor of mine said it best, “Maybe some parents know their kids exaggerate, embellish in order to get the heat off them. In admitting one way or another who is correct may make them admit their child does lie or act up. Sometimes people don’t want to admit that.”
Maybe so. C is not in my classes anymore, which will keep C and D apart. I’ll be seeing him or her in the spring.
All I know is, I’m lucky. This could have been worse. I’m very glad the parents did not want my blood for this.
Nowadays, it really doesn’t matter if a teacher is innocent, the child is always right. 11 to 15 year olds with basic math, reading, and reasoning skills, with partially developed frontal lobes control my fate. It got real that day folks. All for doing my job honestly and fairly. Too real.