Surprise! Casey’s out of town again and I’m a single parent for what feels like the umpteenth time this year. My stint as a single parent will last for nearly two weeks this time around and it didn’t get off to a very good start.
Before Casey headed off to Florida for a conference, she arranged for Addie to go to a few friends’ houses on certain school days. Some of those friends live in our neighborhood and only require Addie to walk a few houses away from her bus stop with her friends. Other friends require Addie to ride a different bus. Whenever Addie has to ride a different bus, we have to make sure we’ve either called the school to let them know or we have to send Addie to school with a note.
This time around nobody called the school and nobody gave Addie a note so she could ride a different bus home from school–oops.
There’s no question we as parents screwed up. Casey usually takes care of the notes or the calling of the school before she heads out of town. I usually ask Addie the morning she is supposed to take a different bus whether she has a note. Unfortunately for Addie, neither of us did our job and we have to make sure that never happens again.
Even though Casey and I screwed up, I’m furious becasue the school failed too.
When Addie got to school she realized that she didn’t have a note to ride a different bus. Knowing that nobody was going to be at our house if she had to ride her regular bus home, she decided to forge a note and sign my name to it. She handed the forged note to her teacher and her teacher recognized that the note was a forgery. Addie was pulled aside and lectured about how dangerous it is to forge notes in order to ride a different bus home. Addie was then told to sit in a corner with her head down on the desk for a certain period of time. Addie said she was crying pretty much from that time on until she arrived home.
Addie didn’t just sit there and give the teacher a blank stare when she was confronted about the note. Addie explained to her teacher that nobody would be home if she rode her bus home. She explained to her teacher that her mom was out of town and that I was at work fully expecting Addie to ride home with her friend—something Addie has down many times this school year. Addie made it crystal clear to her teacher that nobody was going to be at home.
I don’t expect the teacher to believe everything Addie tells her. After all, Addie is a child. But, hey, Addie’s a child. She’s an 8 year-old girl. She’s not a 20 year-old who may have to sit on a porch for a few hours or who may have to walk to my office after finding the house empty. She’s an 8 year-old girl being sent to an empty house. The school even has my phone number and it has Casey’s phone number, and I know it has my number because they call me about the stupidest things at the stupidest times of the day on a weekly basis.
At the very least Addie gave enough information to the school to give rise to a suspicion that a child may be going to an empty home. In the legal world, we would argue that once Addie turned in the forged note and explained why she needed to ride a different bus that there was enough of a red flag there that the school had a duty to investigate. But the school didn’t investigate. Instead, it sent Addie home on her regular bus. I got calls from a panicked parent who was expecting to watch Addie after school letting me know that Addie didn’t show up and from a panicked neighbor to let me know that she had Addie. I screwed up and sent Addie to school without a note, but that doesn’t absolve the school from acting like a responsible entity and I’m pretty furious with the school right now over this whole incident.
Addie thinks she’s in big trouble for forging a note and getting in trouble at school. Truth is, when I first found out all this was happening I had hoped Addie was clever enough to forge a note. I won’t tell Addie she’s not in trouble, but I may tell the school it’s in a bit of trouble. I had to sign off on Addie’s behavior card which included a paragraph about how Addie forged a note and why that was dangerous followed by a frowny face and a C mark on behavior. Well, I may create my own behavior card for the school and send it with Addie with a little note included that lists the dangers of what the school did and request the principal to sign the card.
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