Home > FAQs > How to Deal with a Hostile Environment at School
Lynne writes, "We are having great difficulty with a 'hostile environment' at the school. Our child is three years old and has an aide. The teacher and teacher's assistant are angry at the aid because she informed us that our son, who has feeding problems, was force fed during his first week in the school."
"After she told us what happened, we questioned the school and the teacher. From that point on, the environment has become unbearable for the aide and is having a negative impact on our son."
"The district informed our aide that she is not to tell us about anything that goes on in the classroom. They say the aide is not following the direction of the teacher and is too overprotective of our son. We've had several meetings and have written several letters to our school district regarding this situation."
"Does the aide have a right to tell us what is going on in the classroom? My guess is yes. Is there any caselaw or sections of the law that we can refer to?"
Pete & Pam Wright Answer
Pete: As a parent, your mission is to make the school want to help your child and your family. You will not succeed at this mission
by blaming, writing complaint letters, or waving caselaw at school
Pam: How do you react when another person - someone you do not know well - makes demands of you? If you are like most people, you dig in and hunker down for a fight. When a person makes demands on you, I doubt that you rethink your position. You prepare to defend yourself.
Your Relationship with the School
Pam: In our training programs, we tell parents, "Unless you are prepared to remove your child from public school forever, you need to view your relationship with the school as a marriage without the possibility of divorce. You need to focus on solving problems while protecting the relationship."
In Art of Writing Letters, you learn to use tactics and strategies when you write letters to the school. You learn about the Blame Approach and the Storytelling Approach; the sympathy factor; first impressions; pitfalls; and the powerful decision-making Stranger.
If you have a problem with the school or concerns about your child's program, you must document your concerns in writing. 12 Rules for Writing Great Letters includes rules for writing letters and editing tips.
Negotiation & Persuasion
Pete: I also recommend that you to read two books (assuming you have already read our book, From Emotions to Advocacy!)
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury will teach you how to negotiate "win-win" solutions to disputes without damaging your relationship with the school.
How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence will teach you how to persuade others to see things as you do, understand your perspective, and WANT to help. How to Argue includes great stories about how people dealt with situations similar to yours. Read the story in Chapter 8 about the mother who wanted her county to fix a dangerous road. After you read this story, you will understand what you need to do.
and Pam also do training programs about special education law and
advocacy. To see if they are coming to your area soon, visit their speaking schedule