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Unsent Letters: Politically Correct Edition

Dear High School Secretary,

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for humiliating my son in front of his peers this morning. It was bad enough that he missed the memo and wore his JROTC uniform to school on the wrong day. It was even worse that I had to rush home, grab some clothes for him, and come back to the school looking like a drug addict with my yoga pants and bedhead. But you went out of your way to escalate the situation, and I really appreciate your efforts.

If you’ll recall, I told you when I came into the office that Jayden would need help changing out of his uniform. That’s why I waited 20 minutes for him to finish a test instead of just dropping off the bag of clothes. That’s why I was willing to sit there in the office making small talk with half the people I graduated with even though I looked terrible.

When Jayden came into the office, though, you chose to ignore everything I said. When I asked if there was a place I could take him to help him get changed, you opted to ask, loudly, “YOU MEAN HE CAN’T CHANGE CLOTHES BY HIMSELF?” And when I informed you (quietly) that he is autistic and in occupational therapy, thus┬ánot┬ábeing able to deal with all the buckles and buttons, you decided that would be a great time to shout, “OH, I DIDN’T REALIZE HE WAS A SPECIAL ED KID,” in front of all the other kids in the office.

I’m not a huge stickler for politically correct language, but there are some things you just don’t say. And there are some issues that you don’t need to draw attention to, especially when the kid in question is 14 and becoming acutely aware of how different he is. I know you can’t be expected to know the life story of every student in the school, but that’s why I made the effort to explain things. YOU made the choice not to listen.

I didn’t say anything this time. After all, you probably have all kinds of opinions about me and my parenting skills after the way I looked this morning. But the next time my child has a wardrobe malfunction, I’ll look like a normal human. I will let you know again that he will need help changing. And so help me, woman, if you make one comment that draws even more attention to my son’s disability, especially in front of other kids, YOU might be the one who needs help.

Thanks again for your ignorance. It made me feel better to know that, while I might have looked like crap, at least I have the decency to treat other people like people.

Love,

Andrea

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. Christi Frederick says:

    Andrea,
    You need to call this to the attention of the Special Education Director or Principal of the school. It is a confidentiality problem, and they need to get their secretary under control or they will get sued for breech of confidentiality, not to mention how insensitive it is. Why don't you email me the number of the school, and I'll give them a call myself and let them know what the LAW is regarding this kind of behavior. I am appalled!!! Thanks for letting me rant on your blog ;) and I'm serious, I will call them myself since I'm in the field, just let me know.

    • Thanks, Christi. I emailed his case manager as soon as I got home and she is addressing the issue with the secretary and the principal. I'm sure she's a nice lady and didn't mean to be as inconsiderate as she was, but I'm not having it. That was absolutey ridiculous! Jayden is embarrassed enough that he still needs help getting dressed sometimes, and I can't believe she wouldn't realize that I wouldn't bring it up if it wasn't necessary. She acted like I was making it up or something. People drive me insane!

      • seedebtrun says:

        I think you must be right that she's not "mean" but just wasn't thinking. She probably just needs help adjusting her filter a bit. I'm being hopeful that this is what happened anyway! Otherwise, if she really is just mean and thoughtless, she shouldn't be working with children and teenagers! Good for you for letting his case manager know what's going on. This could keep things like this from happening again anyway.

      • I hope something significant happens with this because this is completely absurd. If anyone should be extra sensitive to the language (and kids!), it is someone who works in a school, no matter what their position. I seriously can't believe this and I don't have kids, and I am far from politically correct.

        Going to the case manager was good – and polite – but I probably would've sent a version of this letter to the Superintendent, Board of Education and Principal. They are the people that can get things done! Good luck and I'm so sorry that you and your son had to go through this at all.

  2. oh man. Thats horrible. Do you want me to call her and yell? I would really like to do that.

  3. Hey, if you give me your school's number and the name of the person, I'm sure Vonnie would take great pleasure in pointing out to the school secretary the error of his/her ways. She's good at that kind of thing.

  4. I don't know that I wouldn't go ahead and send a letter to the secretary. She may never learn to act differently unless it's brought to her attention. I might also send one to the principal. I had troubles with teachers when my daughter was in school. I did send an email to one of them. I'm including what I wrote (thank goodness for Gmail archives, LOL) and I changed the names to protect the guilty.

    Ms (Inconsiderate Teacher,

    (My daugher) told me that upon giving out the report cards, you read her
    grades aloud while other students were standing there. This is very
    troubling to me and was near devastating to her. You then proceeded to
    scold her and make some kind of comment about you wishing to be there
    when I saw her report card. (My daughter) and I are well aware that her
    grades are not where they need to be. It is very hard for her, and
    quite frankly, you are not helping matters much. I feel quite confident
    that you would not want your own children treated that way.

    The ADD child typically has very low self esteem, and a very high level
    of frustration with themselves anyway. You add to this by saying those
    types of things. You can not scold (my daughter) into doing right, this only
    helps to convince her that she is unable to succeed or achieve. I have
    included a couple of links to articles that give teachers suggestions on
    working with children with ADD, I hope you will use them.

    Please see her the way I see her.

    • I have a reputation as one of "those" parents because I am so fond of sending emails and copying the principal when something is wrong. I'm not dumb about it – I wait for real issues, not petty stuff – but unfortunately it seems that there is a LOT of dumb stuff going on in public schools. Generally, if a situation doesn't bother Jayden, I let it go. But when he's upset or scared or doesn't want to go to school anymore, that's when I have a problem. This year has been going SOOOO well; I'll be damned if some idiot is going to ruin that for him.

  5. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    Gross situation! Poor Jayden, I can't imagine anyone being cool with that situation! I hope some appropriate conversations come as a result of your case worker!

  6. moneybeagle says:

    You really need to send that to the principal and the superintendant with actual names.

  7. Wow, some people can be so insensitive! I hope you go ahead and alert the proper people to what happened because it is not fair to your son that she is a mumbling idiot. Good luck!

  8. plantingourpennies says:

    I hope this does get addressed with the secretary, because she needs to understand that she's privy to confidential information in her position, and she needs to not scream it across the office lobby. Common sense and decency goes a long way.

  9. Oh Andrea … you're one of "those" parents who actually care about their kids enough to stand up and demand they be treated with respect and consideration? I totally agree with the first commenter about bringing this situation to the attention of the appropriate higher-ups and that it IS a confidentiality issue. There is no reason for her to be demeaning or to publicly humiliate you or your son.

  10. Very insensitive of that person… that goes way past being rude. I do hope the secretary takes this seriously and goes through with it. No teacher, admin, and certainly no principal should be that thoughtless in regards to their students.

  11. Christ on a cracker, no wonder your son has no interest i the school system and is eager to get out.

  12. It makes no difference how you looked. You could've walked in dressed in a paper bag and it doesnt' matter. Even if you didnt' explain the situation but just asked for a private place to change, that shoudl be enough! People ask so many questions sometimes, as though it's even their business! And then people can be ignorantly unobservant about what their actions are doing to others…it's ridiculous. Espcially for any person who works in the school system…. they should always be extra observant because there's so much stuff going on with kids all the time! Jeez. Idiots. Next time, no matter what you're wearing or wahtever, you tell people what they need to hear! Your appearance doesn't matter! Years ago, one of my daughter's teachers did something similar, and even though I was in my work clothes (torn jeans, old tshirt, dirty boots), I told that teacher what she needed to hear. I like what commenter #1 said and others, but you know what? I think you shouldn't send this letter. I think you should make an appointment with the principal to discuss it.

  13. momoneymohouses says:

    Urrgghhh that is so frustrating! Some people are so ignorant!

  14. she needs to be reported to the principal so this can be dealt with properly, there is NO excuse for her behaviour. If your school has disability consultants I'd contact them as well.

  15. Why would any human being say “OH, I DIDN’T REALIZE HE WAS A SPECIAL ED KID”? She seems more juvenile than the kids at the high school. No adult says that, ever. Like who cares why you are saying you want to help him with his clothes, maybe you want to fix his hair or something. What an @33! I probably would have lost it and said some very mean things.

  16. Insurancegal says:

    Andrea, sending you a hug via cyberspace. ((hug))

  17. Hi Andrea,

    I've been a "So Over This" creeper for a while. This post just made my heart ache. The insensitivity of some people is just astounding. I'm so sorry that this happened to you and Jayden :(

  18. WOW. I'm with everyone else. File a complaint. Even if she was being unintentionally insensitive, she needs to go to some type of training or something. As an administrative professional in education, that behavior is totally unacceptable.

  19. He's really luck to have you as a mama.

  20. A student would have been disciplined for saying that. She should be too. And then have her arse kicked across the parking lot. Kudos to you, I would not have been able to restrain myself!

  21. Seriously – there are some people who just shouldn't work with children. She is obviously one of them! You had more grace than I would have to not say anything to her. I'm glad you let someone at the school know what happened. My daughter is always telling me how rude the front office ladies are at her school – and she's an honor student who gets treated rudely if she goes in and asks a question about something. If they hate kids or their jobs that bad, find something else.

  22. Want me to beat her up?

  23. I am sorry for you pain, and Jayden's. (Now, correct me if that
    is an improper use of an apostrophe.) :)

    How did Jayden handle this situation?

    My daughter has/had two children with special needs.

    The oldest child has been healed of autism. (Diet, supplements, OT, speech) She is 5.
    The youngest is currently in classes to help him. I think he will pull through too. He is 3.

    My daughter too has been through similar experiences. Thankfully the kids are so young
    they didn't seem to notice. Jayden being much older I worry it will stay with him. I hope
    many good things happen this week to offset this event.

    My mother wasn't a very verbal/affectionate woman. Yet, I know she loved her kids.
    I was mistreated by two teachers in my ninth grade year. This event was very
    painful. However, that very week my mother bought me a card to encourage me.
    In the card was a lovely necklace. This was a huge cover up of the prior event.
    Gifts were not even given on birthdays at our home. So every time this memory
    surfaces, I am always reminded of the love my mother showed me. :)

  24. Yeah, for you, mom, for sticking up for him. I agree that you might want to notify a supervisor about this.

    My brother had cerebral palsy and required assistance to use the bathroom. Imagine my mom's rage when she found out they were bringing him into the girl's bathroom to help him! There were a few irate calls from my mom, and eventually the school district built him his own special bathroom.

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