Open letter to my son’s school principal:
There are no words to sum up what these past six months has been for us. How does one reason everything that happened to my son? I don’t know if you understand the depth of damage that this teacher, your administration, your school, that you yourself did to my son, to me, to my family. My son has attended your school since he was three years old. And all the beautiful memories we had have been erased by this act of violence against our son.
Since we began our autism journey, we have fought so much for my son. All therapies, the specialists, the long nights of research we have done for our son are too many to count. If you knew the amount of work we have put into simple things such as to get him to make eye contact, or follow simple instructions, or simply to be with us as opposed to in the corner by himself, you would understand why we treasure these little things so much.
And this teacher took everything away in an instant.
This man invaded my family; this man hurt my family through the most important thing in my life, my children. And the thought that I cannot understand is that he had done this before, to another child. And yet you allowed him to be in my son’s class. You made us believe he was trustworthy. You gave him the opportunity to violate another family. You gave him the access, and in turn, permission.
After our son was physically assaulted, he started acting out. Like most victims do, he started hitting, fighting, trying to escape, having constant meltdowns, etc. And instead of letting my husband and I focus on helping my son heal, our efforts were placed on you.
Our efforts were fighting you in trying to figure out what happened. Fighting you in trying to find out the details. Our son doesn’t speak. You were supposed to be his voice, you were supposed to be his defender. You were supposed to be there for him, for us. You job was to tell us who saw this. What exactly did they witness? What did this teacher say happened? How did my son react? All the questions and doubts we had were unanswered.
All we received from you was silence.
Instead, you hid behind protocols and policies. You made us go through all the three levels of complaints, and after all of this, you still gave us nothing. You and your administration fought to hide the details of what happened to our son. During this time, we were struggling to help our son find peace. We were desperately trying to assist our son feel safe. We needed information to know what changes to make.
And you gave us no information.
Our questions were simple. Tell us what our son went thru. And then, our questions changed to Tell us why you didn’t inform us when the witness reported this to you? We were asking the simple questions and you did everything in your power not to answer.
And yet you avoided us, you hid from us, you were not there for us.
I want to believe what you told me, that deep down inside you do care about my son. I want to believe that you did want to help us. But if this is the case and you really did want to, all of that ‘wanting’ is worthless if your actions were the opposite.
What you did was wrong. How you handled the situation was wrong. And how you reacted after the fact, all of that was wrong.
You should have assisted my son that same day. You should have informed us that someone laid their hands on my son. You should have apologized for not checking up on our son when you were supposed to. You should have told us what happened. You should have told us what you were doing in correcting this situation. You should have been there for us.
I know when you decided to become an educator, your goal was to be there for these kids. Your goal was to protect these kids and educate them. And yet when the time came, when it really mattered, you did the exact opposite.
I want to tell you that now, my son is doing great thanks to the love and support that he has. Because of us, he will overcome this. We will do everything in our power to help him.
He will be able to move on.
And so will us.
I want to warn you that this will probably not be the only time that you will be in a similar situation. Odds are, in your career, you will find yourself in a situation like this one. The fork in the road ahead of you will be the same one, with similar choices: to follow policies or to do the right thing and protect the student.
I know that when you talk to your management they have told you that you handled my son’s situation correctly. As I told you before, the reason for this is because their main focus is the liability of the school. And in the middle of this turmoil, you forgot that your main focus should have been the safety and security of my son. These children have been entrusted upon you and your staff to take care of them. These parents have placed all of their faith on you.
When you find yourself in this situation again, I ask you to think of me, I asked you to think of my monkey. I pray that you do not hide behind policies and procedures but to follow your instinct, to follow your gut, to do what’s right for the children, to do what’s right for the parents.
I know that what I’m asking you may jeopardize your career, your job your stability. I know that what I’m asking you to do is something very difficult. We are all faced with situations in life that define who we are. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
My monkey has shown me that he is ready to move on. And so will I. I am done fighting. I am done filing complaints, filing out forms, trying to force you to help us. I am done staying up all night looking for other legal options.
I am done.
I will not let you nor your school take another sleepless night from me. I will use my time and energy towards my son and helping him grow. We are moving on.
But I will end with this. I do not wish that this ever happens again to any other child nor parent. But if it ever does, I hope you will be a different person. I pray that you will assist your students, their parents. I hope you are there for them in every way they need you to be. I pray that you are not an obstacle in their healing, but the light to guide them in finding their peace.
Mom of a beautiful little boy who is going to be okay