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My daughter goes to Middle School. She had an incident today with her chorus teacher. The chorus teacher said “Life would be easier without you in it”. I had to pick up my daughter early because she was in tears when she called me. I was steaming hot and hurt because I know the words hurt. I attempted removing my daughter from the class but now I want her out of the school. She only has five weeks left for school and I just don’t know what to do. A parent conference is only reasonable for them. I have to make my daughter live with these feelings. I have to let my daughter know she is worth everything in life. I want to know is this right? What should I do? I think you are overreacting. Should that teacher have said that? No. Should you complain? Yes. You should ask for a parent conference with the principal present and make your complaints very clear. Leaving town because a middle school chorus teacher said this is a little extreme. You want to show your daughter how important she is, but you do not want her to think that just because someone says something, it can destroy her. The teacher should be disciplined. If this is an exact quote, I am still sure more was said surrounding the comment. Have the school investigate it, but then sit your daughter down and tell her that other people do not decide what she is worth. Coming into junior high with only high school left before she is an adult, she will learn that people will make mistakes, people will say hurtful things, but she should also learn that she gets to decide who matters.


Junior High Child with a brain tumor being Bullied

My grandson has an inoperable cancerous brain tumor and, although he is doing well, has an uncertain future. He started middle school in Huntington Beach and has been bullied by another student almost daily for several months.
This other student has punched, threatened and harassed him daily. He also uses profane and demeaning language to ridicule my grandson when in a group. My grandson had always liked school and was unhappy last year when he had to miss school while completing radiation treatments. However, because of this bully's actions, he no longer likes going to school. His oncologist has told us that stress is bad for his condition so we are at a loss as to how to stop this other child.
My grandson’s parents have met with the school on three different occasions asking for protection but we have not seen any changes and the boy has not been suspended. The principal tells us that this is a very important issue but she can't tell us what actions they have taken to ameliorate the situation or resolve it. At the last recent meeting, she indicated that they have spoken to the parents and "laid out a plan to improve his behavior both socially and scholastically". We have no idea what this means since the bully is still in school and terrorizing more than just our grandson. Other boys are also afraid of him.
Before the Christmas break, my grandson got punched and he pushed the boy away. The teacher who saw the altercation, reprimanded both boys and told my grandson that any more complaints or whining from him and he would be the one suspended. Now he is afraid of both the bully and the teacher.
Their solution was to keep my grandson in the classroom during recess, and they have shown us their lack of willingness to stop this.
Do schools have the tools or resources necessary to stop a bully's behavior? Do we have a better chance by contacting the district and demonstrate to them that we are serious about protecting our grandson? We would like to handle this without causing more stress for him. He is still receiving treatments for his condition and would prefer to make things easier for him and not create a more chaotic situation.
We would appreciate your input and advice.
Stories like these send a chill down my spine. I would like to say all schools are doing all things to help all kids, but a situation as unique as this one calls for unique and specific actions.
I would say it is time to get the district involved. This needs to stop and there is more the school can do to help him.
The district and school should work to protect him and his health. He can actually have a 504 plan, I believe, and this can be a way to accommodate him physically with specific support from teachers and the school.
It would be hard to believe that another child would want to continually harm someone who is already dealing with a brain tumor, and it makes me wonder if the school has truly informed the boy and the parents of the boy of the serious nature of his actions.
Talk to the district, and do not stop until your grandson feels better and safe.


Seniors Need to Apply for Financial Aid NOW

I am a high school counselor and I am telling all my students how important it is to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on January 1st and I cannot tell you how many of them will not do this. I want to get the word out. Maybe if you put something in print for ALL HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS some of them will listen and if I post a newspaper column telling the kids it is necessary, more might do it.
High school seniors need to fill out their FAFSA on January 1st if at all possible. Seniors will not receive any of these grants or loans without filling out this form first. Families should visit the website right away to gather the tax forms and information they will need to supply so that they can fill the form out as soon as possible. The website is http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ and you can fill it all online. They make this as easy as possible. There is no excuse for not doing this on the first day.
When I was a senior in high school, my counselor Mr. Tsuji made me fill out these forms and helped me turn them in on time. He insisted college was possible and he made it possible for me. I put myself through college with the help of the grants I got all because he helped me with this process. College is possible and there are grants and loans out there, but they are first come, first served, so if kids want a shot at any of this money, they need to fill out the form January 1st.


CIF Transfer question

My husband took a new job and we just moved to south Orange County (we were in Bakersfield before) and my son is livid and telling me he will not be eligible to play football or basketball for a whole year. A friend of his transferred to our last high school and had to sit out a whole year and my son thinks the same will happen to him. Can you help us in some way? Is there a way to transfer and have your child eligible to play sports? He played both football and basketball at his last school when he was a freshman. He will start this year as a sophomore and he has dreams of trying out for varsity. Do you have any suggestions?

Your son should be fine. A residential move for a child with his parents is not considered a transfer under California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules. When he enrolls in his school, he will be immediately eligible to play all of the sports he played at his last school. Those transfer rules that he knew about are in effect only for children who are transferring schools without a residential move. If a child does not move, or if one parent moves, but the other parent continues to reside in the home for which they enrolled their child, that child needs to fill out transfer paperwork to be eligible to attend a new high school. Your son, however, is simply going to a new school, so tell him to get ready to try out for his new team.

Failing kids sometimes have parents to blame

Be careful when advising people to simply "blame" their kid’s problems on "learning problems". My kids is having much of the same issues [as the mom in your column last week], he's the same age and grade. But I see it as my lack of involvement is the real problem.

People have suggested that my son may have some learning problems, but I know this is nonsense due to his complete ability to do other things in life that "he wants to". He can operate a computer in the dark, if he needs to find the latest clothes or the latest skateboard, he has no "problem" then. My kid can do anything he wants when it is in "his" favor.

I suggest you tell that lady to be more active in the learning process, and not buy into the "learning problem” thing. Ask her if her kid gets things done when it's in the kid’s best interest? I bet you her kid has no problem then! Kids aren't dumb either. They pick up on this "learning problem" thing and use it as an excuse. One more sign that kids are "smart."

You make an excellent point and I thought I was clear last week. Last week, my words were, “If a child fails, it is an indication of either a learning problem or an active attempt to do nothing.” You have to rule out the learning problem because there are parents out there looking for excuses. Once you take away the excuse, you make more progress.

There are good parents out there with rules, expectations, and an understanding of their own children, yet their children are still failing. You sound like one of these parents. You have your child’s number, and you are not giving him wiggle room; yet he is not performing. There has to be a constant pursuit for change. Your child, and all children, cannot be allowed to fail. Failing an assignment is much different than failing a class. You cannot let a child flounder for whole semesters or years and still say they are learning from this method. I hope your child has no computer, fashionable clothes, or skateboards to turn to while he is turning away from books. Also (and this comes back to giving an excuse to kids, so you might not want to show him this comment), if your child excels at hands-on technical experiences but is not reading or writing on grade level, there can be learning deficits that should be explored. This does not mean that he should get away with it. His interests may have helped him build skills in one area while ignoring another, but he still needs to read and write. We all need that skill. If he needs remediation, find it for him while he is still in school.

High Schooler failing - what should we do?

What should I make my failing son do over the summer? He is in high school. He failed a lot of classes. He is not special ed. He is lazy.

First, he should attend summer school. If he is failing now, he is mapping a tough route for himself after high school. Focus on making him graduate. Before school is out, make an appointment with his high school counselor to see what he needs to do to graduate. At this point, you might need to explore the school district’s alternative high school. The kids that fail in high school sometimes need to go here to get the credits to graduate. Also, make him get a job, the tougher the better. If he can do any manual labor, hauling, loading, digging, outdoor physical work, sign him up. You need to show him that by failing classes, he is not destined for an office job. No one will hire a child to run an office if he cannot pass high school English or Math. Check to see if any grocery stores need cart retrievers. This is a tough job and it may open a door for a career for him later since grocery stores have positions he might be able to move into if he gets his act together.