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dcruz218
(@dcruz218)
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September 5, 2010 11:57 am  

I need some advice from fellow moms and dads with young children. Here's my story: my 5 yr old started his first day of kindergarten this past Thursday, he's attending Alexander Henderson. This is NOT his first time being away from my husband and I, he's been in preschool 2 years and he just finished summer camp @ St. Marys' (which was wonderful for him, he never cried or clung on to me any of these times). After I picked him up on Thursday, I proceded to ask the typical "how was your day" questions, to which he replied, "my teacher hit me" and he made the exact physical action that the teacher apparently used on him. I was shocked, angry, sad, and I felt violated that this person could have possible tramatized my child!
The following morning my husband goes to drop off our son at school and according to him, he saw a side of N that he'd never seen before. N cried, and clung on to his pants for dear life while pleading for his daddy not to leave him. This is not my chld. N is one of the most social, outgoing and adventurous little boys you will ever meet!

I did go to the school and spoke with the asst. principal, and was again surprised when I voiced to her what happened and she seemed completely unsurprised! Is this normal practice here in the VI's?? I mean, up stateside it's completely unacceptable for a teacher to be physical towards a student! I also spoke briefly with the teacher, who confirmed she had been physical with him, and it was the same reaction. There was no apology at all. Needless to say I requested a meeting with her on Tuesday morning (I DID advise her that her actions are completely unacceptable and I expect it to never repeat itself!)
has anyone ever experienced this issue here in a public, or private school?? I rushed out to get an info packet for Country Day and plan on doing the same for Good Hope. Should I just give the teacher the opportunity with my boy? At this point I don't trust the school, PERIOD!


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dougtamjj
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September 5, 2010 12:13 pm  

TAKE HIM OUT OF SCHOOL NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My son had a bad first experience in K4 and it traumatized so bad that it took us a year to get him back in school. He is now a happy 1st grader at CDS. Your child trusts you to protect him. If you do not he will lose trust in you.


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popflops
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September 5, 2010 12:13 pm  

While I have no personal experience with the public schools here, I can say that the teaching staff at Country Day is extremely warm and caring. You can tell that they genuinely love their jobs! The cost is quite high, but there's never an excuse for a child -- especially a young child -- to be physically abused by a teacher. A tap on the back of the hand after having repeatedly touched something they were told not to in the toddler class, maybe... but nothing else. If it were me, there wouldn't be the possibility of a "next time". I would yank the child from the school, file whatever legal paperwork is appropriate and never look back.

I am SO sorry this happened to your little guy! The bright side is, children are very resilient and I'm sure that this will have little to no affect on him as time wears on. If you have any questions at all about Country Day, please feel free to PM me. I have two there, and I volunteer and sub, so I've met a lot of the staff. Good luck!


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meowruff
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September 5, 2010 12:16 pm  

As a teacher in the public school system, I can tell you that I have seen A LOT of physical discpline. It's definitely wrong!

First of all, it's still early in the year. Since this teacher admitted that she was physical, she obviously believes it's OK and will continue to discipline this way. So, I would get my child OUT of that class IMMEDIATELY! There are other first grade teachers and your child should be able to go to another classroom - especially because it's so early in the school year.

Also, put everything in writing and have it put in that child's school file. On that paper, be sure to indicate that your child is not to be touched in anyway. Be sure to spell it out. Bring it to the principal and have it signed by him/her and the classroom teacher. I've seen other parents do this and it has worked.

I'm sorry for your bad experience. But remember that there are many other teachers out there that are not like the one your son got. Good luck!


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Neil
 Neil
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September 5, 2010 12:20 pm  

A teacher hitting a child should be immediate grounds for firing.
Please keep us posted about how the school system handles it.

Unfortunately, striking children doesn't seem to be as frowned upon down here as it is elsewhere in the US.


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roadrunner
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September 5, 2010 2:07 pm  

So sorry to hear this happened. Please do let us know how things turn out. Hope your little guy is doing okay.

Neil, I agree about the firing. Too bad it's not like that here.


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Linda J
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September 5, 2010 2:34 pm  

We often compare life here to life in the states in the 50's & 60's. This is another unfortunate example.

I agree with everyone else, you cannot allow your son to continue under this teacher. Even if she never hits him again, he will see her physically disiciple other children and he will be afraid of her, afraid that this will happen to him again.

I would give the school the opportunity of correcting this situation. But if you feel it is not being handled appropriately, you have no choice but to remove him.

Country Day and Good Hope are wonderful schools, but I think you can find a less expensive private options for kindergarten, if necessary.


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dntw8up
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September 5, 2010 8:52 pm  

I did go to the school and spoke with the asst. principal, and was again surprised when I voiced to her what happened and she seemed completely unsurprised! Is this normal practice here in the VI's?? I mean, up stateside it's completely unacceptable for a teacher to be physical towards a student! I also spoke briefly with the teacher, who confirmed she had been physical with him, and it was the same reaction. There was no apology at all. Needless to say I requested a meeting with her on Tuesday morning (I DID advise her that her actions are completely unacceptable and I expect it to never repeat itself!) has anyone ever experienced this issue here in a public, or private school??

Corporal punishment is legal and liberally practiced in the USVI.


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dcruz218
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September 5, 2010 10:19 pm  

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I have learned that it IS accepted in the VI's to use physical discipline (which I absolutely do not agree with). I am definitely going to take "meowruff's" advice in typing up a letter and I promise to keep everyone updated on how the meeting goes. I have always been one to support the public school system, but this event has completely changed my opinion. Unfortunately, not everyone has good judgement and would know when enough is enough. I do not want my child to be an unfortunate case of a teacher who lost her patience with a child and went too far!
CDS is looking like my boys' best option now, no one can put a price on my sons future!


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Juanita
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September 6, 2010 12:58 am  

WOW! Dcruz, sorry to hear of your child's misfortune, but thank you for posting. Many, many parents ask about the schools when deciding whether to make the move, and this is exactly what many members of this board try to, politically correctly, caution against. There have been posters with a positive outlook on the public schools, but really not many. Go private.


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newarrival
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September 6, 2010 5:30 pm  

Wow - I am so sorry. Good luck with everything. Corporal punishment is also legal in a bunch of states in the mainland but you don't hear about it actually happening in public schools (maybe in parochial sometimes? I don't know. My husband went to an all-boys private school and the male teachers there were physical with them.).

I think you are right that this will keep happening in his class since it is obviously a standard discipline strategy for this teacher. If you just switch his class that would be great, but if you want to switch schools, good luck with that too. I am glad you caught it right at the beginning.

Poor little guy. Hugs to him.


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roadrunner
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September 6, 2010 6:20 pm  

I remember kids being "paddled" when I was in public elementary school in Georgia for 3 years (before moving to another state). My parents told the school that under no circumstances was I ever to be physically punished, and I wasn't, but I certainly remember other kids being taken out of class by a teacher with paddle in hand. I hope things turn out well for you, however you end up choosing to solve the problem. Hope your little guy is doing okay!


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arson340
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September 6, 2010 7:09 pm  

Corporal punishment doesn't work, and violence just breeds more violence.......the cycle is unchanging and some people just need to not be responsible for children.


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Linda J
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September 6, 2010 7:41 pm  

I too remember corporal punishment when I was in school. That was, of course, some time ago, the 1950's - early 60's. It was pretty much the accepted practice. I think that's the real difference. Of course it is not acceptable for any child for many reasons. Children coming from the states, for the most part, do not expect to be disciplined in this way and it is scary for them.

One more thing to consider when choosing a school for your child.


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dcruz218
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September 7, 2010 8:19 pm  

UPDATE: I met with Nayden's teacher today. I am not satisfied with the outcome. We spoke briefly because she was in the middle of snack time and the children were about ready to resume lessons again.

Basically, after I again made it crystal clear that she nor anyone else is to strike my child, she advised me that he is not an easy child and basically dosent follow rules (as if I, his mother, don't already know this!), and because he wouldn't return to his seat she decided the best way to handle the situation was to smack him on the arm. She then continued to say that the principal will paddle the children at her discretion!! Are you serious lady, we're living in a world where a parent can't even so much as tug a child too hard, before someone's calling Child Protective services to investigate them!

I mean, are they not qualified enough to deal with a slightly problematic child? Aren't they supposed to be trained for these things? What do they do with a child with ADD/ADHD who won't sit still for a second? Or a mentally challenged child who needs that extra love and patience? The whole thing scares and infuriates me...

Needless to say I have another meeting with the teacher, counselor and principal on Thursday. I hope, for their sake, they respect my request and do not lay another finger on my boy!

I'll keep you'all posted....


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dntw8up
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September 7, 2010 9:28 pm  

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's meeting, you can never be certain that a public school teacher in the USVI will not hit your child. It is an acceptable response to an unruly child here, and in the heat of the moment your child will always be vulnerable.


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Edward
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September 8, 2010 2:12 pm  

Corporal punishment is legal and liberally practiced in the USVI.

Can anyone cite the statute that accords corporal punishment a legal status?

Unless there is a statutory immunity, there are always civil remedies. In this case, N (and his parents) have standing to sue the teacher, the principal, and the school district for the torts of assault and battery. If the teacher used any instrument other than her hand, it's aggravated assault.

The teacher also committed the crimes of assault and battery, but given the state of criminal prosecution in the Territory, hitting the offenders in their pocketbooks may be a more effective deterrent.

Perhaps it's time to bring this practice of brutality against children to an end. Someone has to take a stand.


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Linda J
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September 8, 2010 2:36 pm  

Perhaps someone should. But the fight is only winnable if waged by people who use the public schools and are directly affected. Okay, I know this affects everybody, but corporal punishment is not unique to the USVI, it is probably not illegal, and why would the school system care what people who have been here "5 minutes" and don't have kids in school think?

dcruz,, you really need to follow through on this, not for the good of the whole, but for your child. IMO unless you want to make this your personal, full time battle and keep you child on the front lines of a war, I don't think you're going to have much luck. After fighting and probably loosing, you'll wind up pulling him out of school anyway.


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sdove
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September 8, 2010 4:47 pm  

I live in a small Oklahoma town and corporal punishment is still practiced by many of the schools here. Of course, when I was in school corporal punishment was the standard practice, at least in regards to "paddling." (As far as I know, it has never been legal to just flat out strike a child.) It was procedure to contact a parent any time a child was paddled. Fortunately I never had to be paddled; I knew that any punishment I received at school would just be doubled when I got home and faced my parents. It kept me in line.

I have kids in those same school systems today and they still practice corporal punishment. However, parents are notified up front as to what the school's procedures are and have the opportunity to "opt out" of that means of discipline for their child. If a child commits some offense serious enough for paddling, but has been opted out by their parents, that child receives suspension instead. If parents choose to allow corporal punishment, they can insist that they be notified either before or after the punishment is administered. Paddlings must also be done in the presence of a witness to insure that the teacher/principal doesn't "go too far." Again, striking a child with a hand or fist is NEVER tolerated!

I, personally, don't have a problem with corporal punishment if it is done with consistency and according to a strict policy. (Although, I can think of very little that a 1st grader could do to justify it.) I believe, however, that it is most effective if it is supported and enforced by the parents. That being said, I certainly see why some parents do not believe in corporal punishment and I think they should have the right to make that decision for their own child(ren). The key is that there must be communication and cooperation between the parents and the schools so that each child is best served according to their own needs and the parents' beliefs.

Dcruz, I hope you and the school personnel can reach an understanding or that you can find a school who's policies are more in line with your own beliefs. Good luck!


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dntw8up
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September 8, 2010 7:25 pm  

Corporal punishment is legal and liberally practiced in the USVI.

Can anyone cite the statute that accords corporal punishment a legal status?

Virgin Islands Code states : “Nothing in this Chapter shall be interpreted to prevent a parent, guardian, or person acting at the direction of a child’s parent or guardian, from using reasonable and moderate physical discipline to correct, restrain or discipline a child.” (VIC 14.24.507, 1992)

Virgin Islands Code also states: “All principals and teachers in the public schools shall have the right to exercise the same authority, as to conduct, and behavior, over pupils attending their schools during the time they are in attendance, including the time required in going to and from their homes, as parents, guardians or persons in parental relations to such pupils.” (VIC 17.11.130, “Authority to discipline children”)

Thus, principals and teachers in USVI public schools have the same authority to physically discipline children as parents and guardians.


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East Ender
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September 8, 2010 9:20 pm  

One of the more difficult aspects of living here is running up against these "cultural" differences that just do not compute. I grew up in a no corporal punishment state and cannot fathom needing to hit children. But I also was educated under the "no prayer in school" era (okay, and before also) and am amazed at the amount of overt Christian prayer in government meetings here. Lots of these things come up and you just have to shake your head.


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roadrunner
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September 8, 2010 9:28 pm  

Seems like you could find a lot of gray area in "reasonable and moderate." Whose definition of those terms are we using, anyway? My definition of "reasonable" when it comes to physically disciplining a child would be NEVER touching a child with intent to harm. And "moderate" -- that could mean just about anything, depending on who's using the term.


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aussie
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September 8, 2010 9:50 pm  

My mileage varied.

I had a teacher pick me up by the shirt, lift me about 2 feet off the floor, and pin me to the wall. Damn she was a big woman 🙂 I had a home room teacher that would spin his alumni ring in toward his palm, come up behind ya, and cuff ya on the back of your skull. That puppy would leave a lump! Had a science teacher with an electric cattle prod that would zap your chair for talking. That thing hurt! Had an eraser throwing teacher that missed his calling as a major league pitcher - amazing accuracy! He'd be writing on the blackboard, hear ya talking, and spin around and land that puppy right between your eyes. LOL I remember cub scouts and - what the heck did they call it? Kangaroo court? If ya misbehaved, you had to walk down the center of the room and everyone got to take a shot at ya with these big ol', wooden, over-sized ping pong paddles.

It was a different time and I turned out OK...well...uh...functional...well...uh...not too screwed up! LOL

😀


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Bombi
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September 8, 2010 10:57 pm  

I'd kick their ass if anyone ever hit my kids or grandkids. Or at least make their life as miserable as possible.
Yeah my parents were physical and the Jesuits beat me regularly in high school but when someone hit me I lost all love and respect for them. A parent can give a swat on the butt when kids are out of control but that is it


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stiphy
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September 8, 2010 11:23 pm  

First I'm really sorry to hear of your situation.

While I don't agree that corporal punishment is always wrong the way so many here seem to think, I will say that this is my problem with public education in general. You are at the whim of the "public" to decide what is best for your child and cannot make those decisions for yourself since you can't easily pick the type of school you want your child to be in.

I think the alternative here is private school. I am really sorry that you can't get all that money you've spent in taxes over the years to fund public schools back so YOU could decide how YOU thought YOUR children should be educated.

I will be educating my children in a school of my choice which in most places means private school (there are a few progressive places that are doing school choice and charter schools). As soon as I moved to the VI and heard stories from friends who taught in the public schools that were shocking even to a graduate of a rough DC schooll district, I knew that the public schools here were not an option for me or my family.

Sean


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