Mar 31, 2014

Allentown Student Victimized By Bullying

Good evening Mr. Molovinsky,
      I have read some of your blogs and am reaching out to you that maybe you would be able to write a blog on how bullying is handled in the Allentown School District. I have a 7th grade daughter who attends (redacted) Middle School. She was a Honor Roll student until she started getting bullied in October. Not only has she been bullied, but the Assistant Principal claims to have lost all of the incident reports that she and her witnesses have turned in, with no kind of explanation of how this could happen. Then instead of dealing with the two children who were bullying her in class, and out of class, they moved her in the middle of the semester from basic classes to Advanced Honors classes. In this move they gave her no support at all to learn the lessons. Well of course her grades went from Straight A's to 2 D's, 2 B's and a C. I have had meetings with the old and new principal, and even sent emails to Mr. (redacted) at the district office. My daughter has worked so hard to make sure she had honor roll 6 marking periods so she could make National Jr.Honor Society and to keep a promise that she made to a teacher from last year. And this was taken from her. The school has not even given her any type of Restorative Justice. My daughter is now saying that if it was to happen now, she knows the children will have other students come after her. I can't afford to put her in private school, and shouldn't have to. The District has a policy 249 that they didn't follow at all in this case. It is time for someone to stand up and advocate for the children of the ASD. If this could happen to my child, with me being involved and going to Board Meetings, PGA meeting, and school programs, then I can only imagine what is happening to other students?

I wish the above note was a hypothetical situation, but it's very real. I spoke to the woman this evening, both she and her daughter are very distraught by the school's inaction on this situation. She would like her daughter to have the opportunity for scholastic credit recovery, and most importantly, to feel safe at school.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is very sad. I will say, it's not at all uncommon, been going on for years. It's continually becoming 'survival of the fittest' for the kids. It truly IS based on a decline in morality among families.

Unfortunately, all the reductions in teaching staff will create more of this. There's too much stress now in classroom management, even more outside the classroom, all around the building. This is one downside to these cuts. The kids have too much "free time," so to speak.

If the child's mother can homeschool her daughter, for now, that would be the best solution. I suggest she speaks with homeschooling groups who can explain this move.

ASD should look into creating more self-contained classrooms to reduce the amount of time kids interact with little or no supervision. Self-contained classrooms are no longer just a good idea for behavioral problem kids (partly to protect other kids) but can now be a solution for "regular" students, too.

These are difficult times. It serves no purpose to deny this, or whitewash the downside of where we are.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I make a point to identify myself when posting. I often forget to sign at the bottom. The first post was prepared by me.

I will further add, parents absolutely NEED to speak out publicly. ASD has to know the extent of such occurrences to prioritize the need for change. At least for whatever change they can make.

This mother is doing the right thing. I congratulate her.

Fred Windish

Marc Duval said...

I disagree that failure of an institution to structure a safe environment for learning means that the responsibility now should fall on the parents. Although homeschooling as well as alternative/cyber teaching has its merit in many instances, it should not be the answer based on convenience just to remove someone from being bullied. As long as this mentality exists, the institutions will have an excuse to not face the real individuals who are causing this inability to learn and progress. Taxpayers pay dearly for education, and should be entitled to a better solution than just removing the achieving student from the bullies.

Anonymous said...

Marc -

Thank you for contributing to this necessary discussion. As I read the mother, her daughter has an IMMEDIATE problem. She does not have the time to wait several years for enough significant change to go through the bureaucracy.

Yes, taxpayers should be entitled to a better environment for the child, but what's best for the child NOW, is the most important choice. That can mean finding a different environment for the time being. I am less concerned with protecting the choices ASD adults make.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Innocence Lost
MM,
put the blame were it belongs Political Parasite and the new industry that is now becomming the ruling factor?
Healthcare and federal insurance monies allocated for the very innocent children of this article?
sackintact
redd
patent pending

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is terrible. If the mother is accurate, the principal responsible should be fired. This is simply outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, here is ASD's future, as reported in Philly.com:

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140331_Climate_at_Bartram_High_raises_concerns_about_safety__education.html

Anonymous said...

That philly.com article about Bartram is reminiscent of many scenes I witnessed at ASD over the years. ASD is not too far removed from this.

Believe it, or not, about 10 years ago, I went outside to break up a fight between two students at dismissal time. The parking lot was full of parent cars waiting to pick-up their kids. There was gathering of about 50 kids watching. BUT - there were also about a dozen parents who exited their cars, NOT TO HELP ME, but to cheer on the combatants!

Yes, things can get this bad when people realize there is strength in mob behavior. Denying these ugly incidents does not help things.

Preventing all this will be difficult and costly. It can't be "wished away."

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

it has always been my preference to let a post speak for itself, and comment as little as possible. likewise, although this woman wanted me to write a post about her daughter's situation, i felt that her note said it well.
however, some observations on the dilemma: i must assume that she was moved to a higher tract with the thought that she would have less contact with problem students. that move discounted the reality that this girl must walk to and from school. her new placement has created a secondary problem; at least before she had the self esteem provided by good grades. her lost opportunity to achieve honor society after years of hard work was almost an undeserved punishment for being the victim of bullies. it appears that the solution has i=only complicated the problem, with no remedy offered.

monkey momma said...

This post went up this morning, and I know the ASD board reads this blog. And yet...no comments from them. Not one. It speaks volumes.

This mom has understandably lost confidence in the ASD. I admire her activism on behalf of her child. Her options are as follows:
1. Move to a better school district. (I know, I know, easier said than done.) But understand bullies are everywhere. People just seem more mean these days. However, it's just going to get worse as this girl gets older, and it's so easy to lose your way when no one around you is interested in learning.
2. Homeschool. Or cyber school, which I consider the same thing. This is assuming a responsible adult is home with the daughter. She should NOT be alone all day, that's for sure.
3. Charter school. (I'm thinking Lehigh Valley Academy. Run away from the other charters, especially the medical academy charter school.)

In the mean time, the child has to get through THIS school year in one piece. This is very difficult, and requires a lot of luck as well as love and guidance. The good news is, in 7th grade, her grades will not count towards college, so there is time to get her back on track. She'll want to solve this academic problem before grade 9. I wish them luck and hope to see a follow up one day with a resolution that benefits all.

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, you have forced my hand. i already hooked the mother up with one board member for advise. i know at least one other member is out of town, and yet another has a health situation. i will at some point post a followup post on this family, but right now i want to put their interests ahead of the blog.

monkey momma said...

Nobody can force your hand, MM. Thank you for an interesting story that really does get to the heart of the problem in the ASD.

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, there is nothing new about bullying, per se. the bullying in middle school, and the high school dropout gang member violence are two different issues. certainly the cyber bullying is a modern occurrence, and follows the kids home. bullying also happens to be the fashionable educational and workshop topic. from this family's experience, our educators apparently haven't learned that much new.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is the very reason why most 'locals' have fled to Parkland and East Penn. There are inexpensive housing options in both of these school districts. Move now.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:58, i can assure you that there are bullies at parkland and east penn

Anonymous said...

I would agree there are bullies elsewhere, but do they have machetes?

I think we need to admit that there's something fundamentally wrong at ASD and address it straight on. It is not like other school districts, at least the ones we'd want it to be like.

Waiting several years for the bureaucracy to change (as a previous comment stated) should be unacceptable to everyone - from the parent and child involved to the ASD Board to the taxpayers.

I know I'm fed up with paying top dollar for failure.

Anonymous said...

ASD Middle and Senior High Schools are not that better than Philly Public Schools. Warehousing a huge proportion of kids that simply don't have a chance. I would suggest that the bullied girl's family do whatever it needs to do to move to the Parkland or Emmaus School District. Rent an apartment or something. There she will have a legit shot making it. Stay in the ASD and it won't be good.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:11 and 10:33, the school system serves a large, poor urban population. it's no secret that such a demographic often doesn't have the home support that this particular girl receives. not all families can or should flee bullying. the school system must have effective policy in place to help these kids, although i realize it's much easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

Monkey Moma,

Situations such as described in this post are best remedied out of the glare of blog postings.
No one on the school board would turn their back on a parent who needs help in a circumstance such as this.As well I will state, from my experience, I have found that those who work for the district are here for all the right reasons. That however does not guarantee problems won't arise.When they do prudence dictates against rash judgements.

Scott Armstrong


Anonymous said...

I have full confidence Board member Armstrong WILL address this matter and effect change that benefits both the mother and daughter.

BUT . . .

Let's not forget, whatever solution follows is happening BECAUSE this situation was brought into the open. More parents MUST get directly involved in supporting their child, even if it means causing waves.

Parents are a valuable and powerful resource. Sadly, many kids come from home situations that cannot/will not get involved.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I quickly sent off a post without my name. I'm sorry.

Michael, please have "Mom" provide an update when available. Thanks!

Fred Windish

gemoftheocean said...

The bullying is awful, and the admin's feet should be held to the fire and new reports shoved under their noses. The mom (and dad?) should also keep turning up at the school board meetings until this is addressed. There is NO excuse for it.

I'm also distressed to hear what one commentator said about PARENT witnessing a fight and cheering it on. What has HAPPENED that people have become socially dysfunctional? Kids having a fight is nothing new, but parents cheering it on? That means the rot has been going on far too long.

As for the daughter's academic issues....in a way, the daughter is aCTUALLY getting a much better education than if she had stayed in a "basic" class. What's more important? Getting a nice piece of paper that says "well done, for "basic not-too-hard-we-don't-really-challenge-you-classes" OR having to work harder and REALLY learning the material (sure it was hard the first semester - but "basic" classes, frankly, at that age, aren't very challenging.) I bet if she kept up hard work she'd soon catch up to standard. A "B" in an honors class will count as high as an A in a regular class as far as GPA goes these days. So the two Bs she got could be As this next semester. And the C and 2 Ds could be brought up to Bs or nearly so. IF she stayed with it in 8th then FOR SURE she could probably hit As again in most everything. Would you rather your budding chess player learns the game at age 10, but 5 years later is still playing kids of the same ability, who were younger and easier to beat? Or is it better, in the long run, to play BETTER players, get beaten hundreds of times, and through the process become a MUCH better player yourself. Because if the child wants to go to a REALLY good college, she will be up against kids who took "advanced" classes. Not the kids who took merely the "basic classes." If by the end of 8th grade, if it was just a string of continual C/D grades with the occasional B, then yes, she can drop back to "basic." But if she does go that route, realize she's probably not going to get into Harvard, Stanford or even necessarily one of the better state U's. She shows early promise but sometimes the tougher route in the long run pays off much better. Which is better? A certificate that says "congrats on making the Junior honor society?" Or 10 years later having a degree on your wall from a top notch university.

I know I talk mostly about the academic effect rather than the bullying business, but that's already been adequately address.

Self esteem, IS important, but it's better if it's for a REAL accomplishment, rather than a "you were the best of the participants who didn't get the top slots in life in the end" award.

But no fear. Because colleges don't really care what you got in 7th or 8th grade. NINTH grade and onwards are the only things that matter. So if the parent were wise she'd tell the child: Take this opportunity to see how far you can push yourself academically, do NOT worry about the letter grade at all but by how much you can actually LEARN and see what it really takes to be at the top of the game.

US students are NOT pushed at all at this age, VERY unlike the Asians and a lot of Europeans who are well educated. A little academic burn at age 12 or so won't hurt her at all in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Armstrong,
I have to disagree with you, what other choices does a person have when they have been contacting the school for 5+ months. And now 6 1/2 months the parent reaches out to make the public aware we judge the parents actions. I don't feel this attempt is about finger pointing but correcting and filling in gaps to help ASD students be educated in a safer environment.

Anonymous said...

Why and how long does it take for the asd to respond to a parent complaint?

When and if ther parent does not agree with the asd decision what is the next step for them to follow?

Why does it sometimes take other people to get involved to get a respond from asd?

There are alot of unresolved issues going on in the asd as we speak ?

We need to hold people accountable.
Bring in monitors in from the state to see what exactly is going on in our schools,.

the arrest rate? Drop out rates? Why ate children attending Vista going to school for 4 hours s day?

Why are children in ibeam for 1 2 3 year's?

Why have the schools bren in corrective actions for almost 10 year?
When was the last time they made AYP?

Who's the blame for this?