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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Falling Through the Cracks

There’s a frustrating situation that arises once in a while in a school. Special interest is taken in a child who appears consistently unbathed or with mysterious marks on their arms, or he may only come to school once a week or so... So steps are taken to investigate. “Home” is sometimes determined to be a single motel room where the mother inevitably has a less than stellar boyfriend saying with them. Then if the authorities are involved, there’s the threat of the parent being sent to jail and the parent views the school as a meddling entity since none of the kid’s issues would have been brought to light had it not been for us. So we fight the good fight, making calls, writing letters, asking questions, lending a shoulder, and then you get the notice: “Withdrawn”.

The student you fought for, worried about long after the working day is over, endured all sorts of added complications you really could have done without, but went through anyway, has been pulled out of your school by the parent. Chances are good that if the kid is put back into any school at all, the same thing will happen all over again. You know it will, because when you looked into the kid’s file you saw three different schools in the space of two years. Once they’re withdrawn, there’s really nothing that can be done but cast a thought in their direction once in a while, wonder what they’re doing now, and wonder what kind of life their own kids will have. There are some cycles that are near impossible to break, and I admire those who can when this is the only type of childhood they’ve ever known.

To the student whose mother chose her violent ex-con of a boyfriend over her own abused daughters and told the school she wished we would just take her daughter off her hands and that she wished she had never been born, I’m sorry we couldn’t do more. To the student who barely came to school, then didn’t come at all, then got withdrawn to avoid having the mother sent to jail, I’m sorry we didn’t even have you half of the time your last two schools had you.

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