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Bullying, Discipline, & Confidentiality: Who’s the Victim?

11/12/08
by Wrightslaw

A special education teacher asked a question about a student’s right to confidentiality after being disciplined by the school.

It is a good example of how changing the facts in a particular situation can give you a clearer perspective on the issue.

“…a child with disabilities was a victim of bullies. How much is too much information to share with another parent regarding other students..before turning the bullies into victims?”

Here’s the complete scenario:

We had a situation this year with a child with disabilities who was a victim of bullies. The bullies faced consequences including parents being called.

The parent of the child with disabilities wanted to know who the bullies were, what consequences were given, and what the meeting entailed with the parents of the bullies. Is this allowed? It felt like the bullies were now being turned into victims.

We have a clear and zero policy in our school regarding bullies. I was satisfied with the consequences given. How much is too much information to share with another parent regarding other students?

Let’s change the facts in this case. The child with disabilities who was bullied is your child. What’s your perspective, now?

  • It is your child who attended a summer camp and was severely beaten up and hospitalized by another camper.

Camp officials decline to release info about the aggressor and what steps, if any, were taken.

What is your position as the parent?

Change the facts again:

  • Your child attends a private school and was assaulted by another child at the school and is now in the hospital.

You want to press charges against the aggressor, but the private school cites confidentiality and refuses to release any information about the aggressor, including his identity.

Change the facts again:

  • Your child was assaulted at the local mall and local mall security were involved.

Should you be notified?

In those scenarios and with a public school, when any entity refuses to release information to a parent, what does the parent automatically assume? They assume that the other child is being protected, despite being the bully.

Parents have a right to know who did what to their child and what steps, if any, the school took to prevent a repetition of it. Anything less is viewed as a cover-up and opens school up to the appearance of a policy of “doing nothing” to protect children from bullies.

In Bullying, Confidentiality, & the Parents’ Need to Know, Pete and Pam answer questions about confidentiality and the parents’ need to have information about their child. Pam suggests a strategy to help the teacher understand the parent’s perceptions, concerns, and fears.

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93 Comments on "Bullying, Discipline, & Confidentiality: Who’s the Victim?"


Carolyn
06/20/2015

Marion County has a very long history for records violations they even gave a child ‘s records to an attorney without consent and for non educational purposes but for ligation against a parent. The child was not named as either the plaintiff or the defendant and the school district attorney detailed the child confidential school records in open court in front of TV stations. This is the violations that Marion County schools has been allowed to violate for years. The school district attorney even admitted under deposition that the use of a parent’s email to the school district were not for the educational benefits of the child but for litigation in a lawsuit for the benefit of the school district. This event occurred after the child was injured at school and the child’s MD reported county schools to the child protective agency for endangerment of the child. The parent had just gotten a state law judge order for the school district to abide by the child MD orders instead the school system attacked the parent when the child was harmed. This is invasion of privacy does anyone have an attorney willing to make a stand?

Anonymous
05/14/2015

My son has ADHD and has had an ongoing problem with 3 students at his school. This same thing has happend where I have asked what has been done and the school is telling me because of confidentiality they cannot tell me if the children have been suspended or what other actions have been taken. I have gone in to the school 3 times so far. AND it always seems like when an incident happens, just so happens the teacher “has her back turned” and doesn’t see what happened. Also, one of the children my son has had problems with told the teacher my son said a cuss word….teacher didn’t hear him (of course her back was turned) but my son still got suspended. Another indident that happened with this child was when he told another child to “smack the white” off of my child. If MY child had made a comment regarding the other child’s color, again he would have been suspended. I just don’t understand why these children are being protected. I am confused with this process. There is a lot more to this.

Alicia
03/26/2015

My son is handicapped and attends highschool. He was bullied for the past 6 months. The principal was made aware in December. The school said they would look into it. Wednesday my son was threatened, so he wrote a threat back to the boy on the wall. He’s suspended. The cop threatened my son with felony charges, juvy and other stuff. Is that legal? I have a meeting on Friday. The cop was intent on threatening my son but not the bully. What can I do?

La Quitta
03/19/2015

I am attempting to get my child’s disciplinary record from a previous school district. They failed to forward the records to the new school, but now they are telling me that they won’t give me the disciplinary records, can they do that? The current district didn’t have a problem giving them to us, and it’s extremely important because he is having a psychiatric evaluation and his history of discipline will help they psychiatrist in his evaluation. Again, can a school refuse to release our sons disciplinary records to us?

Lesley
03/02/2015

My son is in a wheelchair. Went to the school, and told the school, but basically the principal is saying he doesn’t believe my son. He doesn’t think the other boy is doing anything. So what do I do?

Sand
03/01/2015

EVERYONE PLEASE! ! If your child has been threatened or harmed physically email or call the school district and tell them your complaint on the school and that your child doesn’t feel safe! PLEASE also call police and try to file charges. What is the worst thing they will tell you, no? Fight for your children fight! I waited and my child paid because of it. Its never too late but please stand up for your kids. If this was a workplace people wouldn’t have to put up with it. WHY SHOULD OUR CHILDREN have to? Bullies need to know that they can’t get away with this. PLEASE help your children.

Connie
02/24/2015

My 8yr old daughter has been being bullied by her classmates they are all part of the special day class. Yesterday 3 of the boys held her down & started to choke her then when she called for help they covered her mouth. This all happen on the playground. I spoke with the principal & once again all she said is that they speak with the parents & try to keep them apart! Nobody called us either. I found about 3 hours later. What more has to happened to my daughter before anyone does something?? They’ve already punched her several times before now they’re holding her down, covering her mouth & choking her. I don’t know what to do anymore. She’s is afraid to go to school. Every time something happens between my daughter & them it seems to more & more aggressive. My husband & I are worry shell ended up in the hospital next time.

lupe
02/18/2015

My daughter is on special ed. she was being bullied at school. he reported several times, the school ignored. She was physically assaulted by other student. I was never notified, went to school to ask for video. They refuse to show it to me. Personal emails from the pshycology was exposed on from a whole class on a projector. How long legally do I have to file charges on that school?

Jackie
01/28/2015

Do you deal with Special Ed. only? I hope this is not the case. This concerns a regular good kid and student almost in your backyard.

Sirmedra
01/28/2015

My 12 yr old son was attacked by a 18 yr 10 th grader. The school has since gave my son 45 days in the alternative to school. Policy states 5 days for a fight. They said that since my niece and nephew getting involved was a gang and my son should have not have defended himself.

Nancy
01/13/2015

Just wondering. My 2 sons are bullied on their bus ride home. The kid would tell my boys to say bad words, and or he would cough in their faces and such. I told my sons to ignore him and don’t say those bad words even if the kid is telling them to. So this past week they stood up by saying NO, but now the kid got physical and put his hands around my sons neck and was telling them, say it say it.. the bad word. Still my kids said no. So then he said he was going to kill them, bring a knife on the bus with him and such. I called the principal right away and was only told she would look into it and request the video from the bus. Do I have the right to watch it and see what happened? My kids wouldn’t lie. Can I request the kids name? And what they plan on doing? Can I request that he no longer rides this bus?

Nora
01/12/2015

Why there are not more laws that can protect our kids from the teachers that are bullying our kids. My son was to a point of asking us for sleeping pills because his special education teacher was bullying and threatened him. The school and District didn’t do anything so we removed our son from the teacher. Why there is no punishment for those teachers?

kim
01/11/2015

My daughter was being bullied the 2nd day of school. A boy threatened to kill her and he sent a picture of himself to her without a shirt. After she contacted administration the boy accused her of bullying him. In front of the boy without my knowledge they made my daughter sign a contract that said she would behave better in the future. The principal told my daughter that the paper she signed would protect her. The bullying did not stop. then his friends that are girls are harassing my daughter, spreading rumors that my daughter cuts herself. The principal came to my house uninvited-I was not home. They believe the bullies again. My daughter is now having anxiety attacks and sees a therapist. The police were involved and they told me I should be a better parent. I was told by the school…I have no parent rights once I leave my child at school.

Tammy
12/30/2014

I have a 13 year old grandson that was punched in the face at school. we have just found out that both sides of his jaw is broken and they are going to have to wire it shut. this is not the first time for this kid that did this. what and who can I get to help us in this case?

Jackie
12/23/2014

12Christy I did something similar to what you did. I was very quiet and knew the layout of the school well, so I acted like a spy escaping the teachers who were upset with me for no good reason.

I’ve learned schools now call bullies emotionally disturbed and claim they are disabled. Every child has the right to an education, even sociopaths who will do nothing with it. Students should be able to get cops involved if the school does nothing. It took me 20 years to stop blaming myself as my school victim blamed me saying I made myself a target. A student should be able to say no and have it respected an heard. No student should be threatened with punishment or blamed by teachers for being a victim. Our schools are not safe as long as being a bully is considered a disability.

Rogers
10/08/2014

We live outside of Houston, TX. My son was stabbed in the back by a student with scissors. The school nurse contacted me of the incident. The boy has been attacking my son all year. We requested for the attacker to be removed from the classroom but they want my son to be removed. In this same school district our older son was choked by a teacher. We called the Police and their investigation was she had no prior incidences. We also called ISD police, arrived today and made a report but I feel that this school district has a racism for black children. We need your help and fast.

RLC
09/23/2014

My ADHD son was assaulted by a special education teacher on May 2,2014. He had multiple fingerprint bruises on his back and sides. I was never called and it was not reported to police or CPS by the school. I did both immediately! The teacher resigned in July. Unfortunately, charges against him were “no billed” by the Grand Jury, even though he opening admitted to causing the bruises on my child. So, this teacher gets away with seriously harming my child? This can’t be seriously happening!!!

caroline
07/05/2014

I think that when a crime is committed the criminal, regardless of age and location forfeits confidentiality. With maybe exemption or rather consideration of the circumstances, ex. Kids has had been bullied by the “victim” and possibly “snapped”. By the way regardless of confidentiality policy when a crime is committed that goes out the window, even quicker when the child has to go to the hospital to be treated. I’m not talking about a bruise or scratch , however if those are or become chronic should also be considered a hard crime and just as bad. My son has adhd and he has been bullied and has also bully other kids out of frustration and as a consequence of his adhd. So I do understand both sides. I’ve been in school to be told what my son had done and to see his legs full of bruises. Stop protecting criminals, it stops NOW!

rainieb
06/13/2014

my daughter currently has a 504 plan for an anxiety disorder. In March she told us that she was bullied by verbal abuse. This included name calling and harassment in the hallways. When she would go to math class (intro to algebra) she had elevated levels of anxiety, along with recurring thoughts about the insults. After almost a whole year of school, she lost vital classroom instruction, and was blamed for failing and not going in for extra help. We told the school about the bullying and even told them she failed in spite of the tutors. They did not care of the circumstances and could not do anything about the bullying because my daughter is refusing to give names, she only gave lunch tables. I have been asking the school for two years for an IEP, but they refused. now everyone is celebrating and my daughter has to go to summer school.

Nicole
04/24/2014

My 9 year old daughter was attacked on the school bus yesterday. Apparently, I am not allowed to know WHO they are, or HOW they will be disciplined. This privacy law needs to change. I can partially understand withholding names…but why on earth am I NOT allowed to know how these kids were disciplined?

linda
04/07/2014

My child talked in class & yelled at by the teacher in the class, hallway & not taken to the office as students in general education, but is taken outside the Special Ed. office. Teacher pulls case manager out & complains about student & calls her a jerk. Student has never been in trouble in the class. I am told she is treated differently because she is in S.E., but has no behavioral issues per teachers or indicated in her IEP. She is treated differently because of both disability & race? What laws pertain to this? A routine parent teacher/adm. meeting was set up. Teacher brought Union Rep.(atypical) & without parent consent & has no relevance to my child & is not known to parent & refuses to leave or state y he is there. Is this a violation of privacy confidentiality &harassment? She was bullied & staff told her of the meeting. Help!

Kay
03/13/2014

MY SON IS BULLIED AND ATTACKED

My son is 15 and he was attending a drivers education class at the local High school. He does not attend this school, that is where the classes were being held. While waiting for the instructor to come int ot he class he was attacked by another student who was a student at that particular school. He has been bullied in the public school system since elementary and he is very quiet as not to draw attention to himself now. The other student attacked him and he defended himself. No one was seriously injured but now the school that he went to for the drivers education has kicked him out of the class and the deputy that was at the school is filing a juvenile petition against my son. I feel helpless in this situation. I want to know how I can fight for my son who has been a victim of bullies for years.

Schennia
11/26/2013

my son was recently injured at school. No one knew anything and we weren’t called. I addressed my concerns through e-mail and a followup IEP meeting. During the meeting I was told that my son had bitten 2 or 3 adults prior to. Supposedly, he bit one person so bad their skin broke and they had to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot! Yet, I was never told! When I asked for the specifics (names and what happened) I was told I could not have the information due to HIPPA laws. But I was given the dates these incidents occurred. However, I keep just about all of my sons daily reports. On two of the days in question, my son had “great” and “very good” days. Notes were written at the bottom of each report but did not suggest that any biting occurred. So my question is, can the school deny me this information? And is there such a HIPPA law?

Rachel
05/09/2013

What about when I asked to view the video that the principal said they have of my son but won’t show me and my son said its because they deleted it and my son was expelled 9 days, long-term/expulsion has been put on hold due to my withdrawing my son. Is this allowed?

Joanie
04/21/2013

My son has had problems at his school. Last year he was beat in the face while others were watching! After that there were threats on facebook from others we took it all to School the Assistant principle said he didn’t think it was serious we came home and saw more stuff and this time went to the Principle and he put a stop to it!! This year he has had a boy threating him and he goes to the office and tells them they do nothing ! Well last Friday he and his girlfriend were sitting in the Library at School and the one that beat him up last year and the one that’s messing with him this year the one came by him and handed him something and said hold this don’t tell anyone when he looked down and saw it he turned to hand it back to him and he was gone the other boy went out and right after that the principle came in it had Marijuna in it! They did nothing to the other boys they said they couldn’t prove anything but now my son and his girlfriend are at an Alternative School!! If they are in special ed do they have any options on what Schools they want to go to. I had gotten a letter one time that said they could go to a different one because the special Ed. at this one wasn’t up to par or something!

Latrisha
12/08/2012

Hello yesturday I got a call from our school stating the my 7 year old son was attacked by another fellow student. He was punched in the face and knocked to the ground and kicked in the face/repeatedly kicked in the back. The school has it on security video. The School Recsourse officer was involved as well. I was told that they could not tell me anything other than what the child did to mine and that this will never happen again. I am at a loss of what to do. What are my sons rights? What are my rights as a parent? Please help.

Christy
11/15/2012

I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I am bipolar. I was harassed by not only the kids at school, but by the teachers as well. I remember one day I got put into ISS (In School Suspension) and I didn’t want to be there so I hid in the girls bathroom, but I left my bag on accident in the classroom and the teachers told me that they will take my bag if I don’t come out of the bathroom, knowing that i would try and get my bag from them. Plus, one of the counselors decided to take my head phones from me and break them then tell my parents that he didn’t and that they are in his office, because I wasn’t allowed to have my IPOD out during school hours even though music was the only thing that calmed me. Do I need to say any more?

angry parent
07/06/2012

My child is a minority, and was bullied and harassed for over five years; every year became worse. The school assured that the other parents were involved and it was taken care of. Finally things came to a head in the Spring of this year in which this kid scratched a chunk out of my childs face. This kid was taunting my child on a daily basis. The school staff reported to me that my child was crying every day. I have recently learned from the mother of that child, that the school never made her informed of this bullying or harassment. The mother states that she provided free services for the school with her printing buisness. The school has takent the position that the mothers statements are hear say and that she is not credible. The school never took any responsibility. Monitary gain truley out weighed my childs rights!

Sharon L.
05/28/2012

Yolanda. Only a physician can diagnosis that.

Yolanda
05/26/2012

Hello, my name is Yolanda, I have a 13 year old son, who had a malignant brain tumor, which caused a great deal of his intellectual disabilities. Also, my son has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Is his disability the same as a traumatic brain injury.

Sharon L.
04/29/2012

Belle – Try to get that child away from that teacher fast and report her to the administration right away. This should not be allowed.

Belle
04/25/2012

Do you think a substitute teacher who calls grade school children, whom she is suppose to educate, should call these children names like “Stupid” or “Retarded” is showing good judgement, especially in front of the other children in the class? The child by the way, has a glowing report card that she was proud of that same day. What would suggest the repercussions for the teacher/substitute teacher should be? Thanks for your participation.

Stephanie R
04/18/2012

My son is in 3rd grade and has adhd, autistic characteristics and stutters…he has a hard time expressing when he is upset so i have him role play. He has been bullyied since kindergarten by different kids over the last 4 years in a very small school (85 students). He has been choked with a rope, kicked in his privates, led off to hidden areas and beaten, been imitated and called stupid in the cafeteria. I questioned the teachers, principle, and the superintendent. Their solution was to ban me from school. Yesterday, he was attacked and started hyperventalating. He asked to call me. They tried to talk him out of it but he stood his ground. When they called me, They tried to prevent me from talking to him. When i insisted, he said pick me up. These bullies parents all work at the school. They protect them and my son has regressed now.

1charmed12
03/13/2012

My daugter is being bulied at her school, being called all sorts of names, being accused of stealing this girls stuff, they taunt her , laugh at her atc. I have been to the school several times, emailed and called. I have logged it all and have created the paper trail. Girls will be girls after my daughter was beat up. Since this tarted last yr, I have written the governor of our state, emailed the Dept of Ed, and now I am working with the attorney General’s office as I have had enough of the school doing nothing. I am meeting with an attorney next week. I tried the right avenues to have the door shut i y face, and what appears the school protecting the Bully. My daugter deserves better than this she is an honor student and has never had a discipline issue. I am fighting for her and for the others who cannot fight for themselves.!

marisela
11/29/2011

My child’s elementary school fails to call me when my six year old daughter is ill, and they keep her in the office. I’m concerned that this staff including the principal of the school are not doing what they are supposed too. I need to know what local Congress and legal government I can call?

Sharon L.
11/22/2011

TRINA – Yes you can sue. First get a copy of the school’s policy on bullying, harassment. Then get together with them to discuss before you tell them you are going to press charges. Everything will need to be put in writing. I would press charges if it were me.

TRINA
11/18/2011

My son has been bullied for the past three years. I have notified the school and it only got worse. Last night at a basketball game he was assaulted. can I sue? Would rather get ahold of the bullies, but what can I do???

Esther
10/17/2011

My child was in a sped autism room last year. We just learned that the child assigned to sit next to our son hit children on a regular basis (21 times in a single week). We were never notified that he was EVER hit by anyone and only found out because even after changing schools, my son continues to obsess over that boy and I found his father’s blog…

The aggressor has autism. My son has autism. The school has so far refused to answer any of my questions about was was done to my child. They cite confidentiality. What right do I have to information and what law backs that up?

Sharon L.
05/27/2011

Theresa – This is not good. Your son is only in first grade.If he is on an IEP, ask for an IEP meeting and request a functional behavior assessment. Be sure to sign the school’s paper so they complete the eval in 60 days unless your state has different timelines. The school should complete the assessment and provide you with the test results and a positive behavior intervention plan that those who interact with him at school will have to follow, including the principal.
The behavior assessment will help school staff to understand his issues and what “triggers” the behavior issues. This will help you as well. Don’t let the team talk you out of this or say “we can do this without an IEP” – because if it a service is in the IEP, the school has to provide it.

Theresa
05/18/2011

my son 7yr. old son has adhd and the school principle is constantly picking on him. he takes recess away, makes him eat lunch alone, all field trips are taken away….his desk is taken away and he has to sit on the floor numerous things have happend and i need to know how i can protect my child at school there has to be some way he is only in the 1st grade and this is the second year it has happend and i am tired of him coming home crying everyday……if you have any info please pass it on… thanks!!!!