I teach special education in California. A big part of my job involves working with kids who have been hurt in the past, and the adults who take care of them. Sometimes, these adults are extended family members who get custody of the children after some pretty rugged stuff--sometimes, these adults were initially part of or complicit in the rugged stuff. They're often very (understandably) ill prepared to deal with the numerous struggles and challenges of these very troubled children.
My current issue: I've had a very troubled child in my class this year, have worked hard with grandma to help the child. Grandma is exceedingly hypervigilant and has a history of accusing teachers and care providers (falsely) of abuse.
I'm the third person I know of that she's done this to--she's filed a formal complaint at the district level against me, making allegations that will NOT hold up against what all witnesses have to say about my teaching in general and interactions with her child in particular.
Yeah, I'm annoyed. Fundamentally, though, I know the facts back me up and I have principal support. My main concern is NOT what this complaint's gonna do to my career and reputation--it's that this child's care provider has a documented history of lashing out against people attempting to help her child, and that this causes her to take drastic and unhelpful actions (she's pulled her kid from my class without giving the girl a chance to say goodbye to anyone--this is a child with reactive attachment disorder, for God's sake.)
My question--does anyone know if there's anything in the system which allows TEACHERS to file complaints against parents? Her complaint fits the definition of slander, and I'd like it to be addressed as such. I don't want to go to court over this, but I really feel that this woman needs to be calmly but firmly confronted over what she has a history of doing and how it affects her child's continued access to help, support, and education.
Cheers for any information any of you can throw my way!
Keep this conversation going. I think the first time there is national news that a teacher sues a parent for slander we might see some people reconsider what they say! Teachers can be whipping boys for the problems of society. Administrators just move the kid and the parent spend the rest of their lives badmouthing the teacher instead of looking at themselves.
If it is any help, I'm going to become a different person my year before retirement. I am going to tell it like it is at conferences and any time a parent mouths off! I might even let a rumor out that I'm going to write a "novel" about the affairs and scandals in our lovely community!
you could probably bring suit in a civil court against her trying to defame your character and hurt your reputation. After all, what else does a teacher have except their reputation? But she sounds insane and probably has no money to pay any damages. But then again, just this one lawsuit might make her stop and think about what she's doing.
You say you teach in CA? So do I. I think whether or not you go forward with this depends on a lot of things. Is your Union going to do anything? Will a civil suit cost you anything? Will your district try to stop you or hold it against you if you file this lawsuit? In my district, If a teacher filed a lawsuit like this against a parent, I'm sure they would not be on the teacher's side. They come down on the parent's side every time, even if it's an insane parent.
I wish you luck.
Anon4This I hope to see you on the Today show or Good Morning America! I am so tired of people treating us as though we are powerless and incompetent. It feels as though we are so beaten down, in so many aspects, that teachers have forgotten how to stand up for themselves, or view the fight as hopeless. Take a stand! You know we will support you.
You might start by reading up about slander/libel/defamation laws before you mention the possibility to your union or anyone in your district. You might also seek confidential advice from a local attorney. I do think that a teacher should have legal recourse when someone falsely tries to damage their reputation, but before you take any action I would certainly seek legal advice to find out if there really is the possibility of a valid case against this parent and, if you do decide to file a suit against her, whether your employment is protected or if the school corporation would be within their rights to terminate or reprimand you because you have filed a suit. It's an interesting question! Perhaps you are the one who is meant to take action against this parent that will prevent the same thing from happening to other teachers in the future...teachers who may not be as strong and supported as you are!
what about when the teacher is altering information on a kids iep to make it look like their doing better than they are. some parents have legitimate complaints. districts dont always support parents if they fear the parents have a legit gripe, they try to beat them into submission to keep them silent. thats me. districts can be nasty to parents too and I work for the district!
I am a principal and I am researching the same thing. I had a parent this week defame myself and one of my best teachers and frankly I am ticked. I want to know if we each have legal recourse. I am tired of parents thinking they can run around to the superintendent and the community making up stories about my teachers and myself. Enough is enough. We should all have rights in this area. Our reputations are our career.
I just had to appear before the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing EVEN THOUGH my principal, my colleagues and my district all agreed that I did NOTHING WRONG in reporting a male caregiver for suspected abuse! To date, I am out $5000 in attorney fees, plane tickets, missed work, etc. This doesn't include the effect this has had on my health and well being.
I've consulted with different lawyers and unfortunately, there is really nothing we can do. Recovering my money is secondary. What I really want is a formal written apology from this care giver as well as some assurance that he will not do this to anyone else. (Yeah right...)
Like you, I teach special education and like your situation, this lunatic used to brag to me about all the people "he had brought down". He has made a career out of suing districts, private schools and bus companies for harming his "daughter". I never dreamed I would also fall prey. By the way, he is not related to the female student and she is completely non-verbal and severely retarded. All of this transpired because my assistant and I filed suspected abuse as mandated reporters. He had been reported in the past. He went ballistic and it's been 3 years of non-stop stress for me. I would love to chat with you further. I'm going to bookmark this page. If I find out anything that might help you, I will let you know immediately.
I know exactly what you are saying! Our classroom experienced some bull too! We reported a parent and of course it pissed them off and all of a sudden they went to the district and the district had to perform an entire investigation! Keep in mind these parents had 1st degree charges in child abuse and abondonment and their kids were in and out of foster care their entire lives!!!. I cant even believe these people are even allowed to be taken seriously. Mom being bipolar and dad being schitzo. They have a history of the same bull in the previous school district. and GET THIS! The courts require the students to attend our sped early childhood programs as part of their reunification plan. This has been by far one of the worst experiences I have ever had. So many tears over evil. Would you believe that the kids are still in my program!?!? and one isnt toilet trained! It is a total nightmare! What is OUR protection in being mandated reporters!?!? poor kids! ahhh! Thank god #### has finally calmed down but I still have the other kiddo in my class next year! I cant believe I make NOTHING to endure such bull! I know exactly why people leave the teaching profession. I guess 1 out of 4 teachers deal with this stuff! and I am certain it is much more in sped because at times it is the PARENT drug use or abuse/neglect that contibute to the childs placement!!! and of course if my assistant is out im all alone with these students! Unbelievable!