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Dealing with a Verbally Abusive Teacher

04/18/11
by Pete Wright

My son has a sensory processing disorder but did not qualify for special ed or OT.  His teacher is militaristic, verbally harsh, and impatient.  My son comes home crying and upset frequently, though the teacher denies this.

I attached a small recording device to my son’s backpack and learned that the teacher does frequently yell at my son in in front of the other students.

I will meet with the principal to get my son switched to another classroom.  Should I show him the recording?  I’m afraid that the principal will not believe me without proof.

This is a very touchy issue because of the recording. I don’t know what state you live in. State laws about recording someone without their knowledge and consent vary.

Before you reveal the existence of the recording, I suggest that you:

  • Go to our www.yellowpagesforkids.com. Click on your state.
  • Find the listings of attorneys in your state who specialize in special education.
  • Create a list, then google each one of their names.
  • Talk to leading individuals of some of the special education parent groups in your area to find out which lawyer of those listed is the best.
  • Schedule a consultation with that person.

Per attorney client privilege, you can share that recording with the attorney.  But, until you know your state law, share it with no one else.

The attorney may find other reasons (sensory processing disorder) to change your son’s class. He may be able to keep the recording as the “hole” card if things get ugly (subject to your own state’s laws re such recordings).

Request a comprehensive evaluation for your son. The odds are also good that he should qualify for an IEP.

Don’t Shoot From the Hip

Go slow.  Make the right decision based on good information, instead of acting quickly and shooting from the hip.

Change tactics with that teacher.  Record a conversation with your son about what happens at school. If your child sobs and cries during your ‘interview’, don’t discourage this. Request a meeting with the teacher. Play the recording for her. Sharing a recording of your discussion with your child is okay.  Advise the teacher that the issue is not whether what your son is saying is or is not true, but this is your child’s perception of what is happening at school.

Ask how you, the parent, and the teacher can do, working together, to change your child’s perceptions of what is happening in school.

If you can help the teacher to see the problem through your son’s eyes, without feeling defensive because you are attacking her, you, your son and the teacher will all benefit from the experience.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Adrienne 05/02/11 at 3:05 pm

    I have to say that it really doesn’t matter what the parent or teacher has to say about the issue, the fact is how the child feels about the situation. I believe the best place to start is to have the teacher see and understand what the child is feeling. He/she may have no idea of the effect that it is having on the child. I believe that is the place to start. Many times the problem can be corrected without going any farther. We all do things sometimes without realizing the effects that it can have upon others. If the teacher is sincere, and the kind of teacher he/she should be, then he/sh will appreciate the information and do everything they can to correct the problem.

  • 2 Shawnee 04/22/11 at 10:57 am

    I have friend in similar situation. She has disability discrimination complaints with ORS. They substantiated her claims. School hasn’t followed up on actions ordered to take.

    Her son’s teacher is abusive -he picks on LD students in front of class, makes fun of them for their disabilities and dares them to “tattle”.

    OCR acknowledged that they found her son was shut in closet as punishment for not completing an in-class assignment that he couldn’t read due to dyslexia. My question is, What are her recourse options? There is a similar complaint currently at Federal level and 7 more locally against same school district. Her son developed mental and physical symptoms dieagnosed by his pediatrition as direct result of ongoing turmoil at school- he vomited daily, became uncharacteristically withdrawn.

  • 3 Sue 04/21/11 at 9:37 pm

    The teacher is a bully, a liar, and got caught on tape. Most likely, the teacher is protected by law. The parent has to pay an attorney to protect her son from a person who went into teaching because she loves kids! The boy is still vulnerable to this bullying, lying teacher.

    Take the boy out of the class now. Emotional abuse damages children. If school staff witnessed the parent emotionally abusing the child, they would call social services. The parent should call DSS to report the teacher.Teachers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect. These reports are often based on observation of physical injury/illness and behavioral changes. This boy’s behavior is proof of abuse. Since his cognitive level is normal, his reports should be sufficient.

  • 4 Jane 04/21/11 at 11:25 am

    I feel the frustration of this mom. I too would love to put a recording device in my sons back pack to prove the neglect of my son in the “resource room”. Unfortunately I realize it would just make more problems as it is not legal. I have been fighting to get my son back into inclusive education . It’s a battle.

    don’t give up. You are not alone.

  • 5 JennaMac 04/18/11 at 3:32 pm

    I am so happy to read Mr. Wright’s reply “that the issue is not whether what your son is saying is or is not true, but this is your child’s perception of what is happening at school.” The school personnel can deny something happened all they want, but they can’t dispute your son’s “perception” of what is happening. We fought this battle repeatedly with our son’s school.