I’ve been supposed to write about this for a while, but each time I do I get too upset… But I need to write everything out to send to the school and do a formal report to to the bus company, so I might as well write it out here. So here we go….
For anyone who is reading this who doesn’t know, Liam is 8 and in 3rd grade at Environmental Charter School. He rides a mini-bus with other kids who go to charter schools in the city who live in Penn Hills. Some of the kids are also from ECS and some aren’t. The age range on the bus is Kindergarten to middle school. Penn Hills hires out to First Student for the transportation company. The bus is pretty packed — at least 2 kids per seat is what Liam’s reported before.
When I first posted to FB, I did post full names, but since I’m posting to my blog, I’ll be nice and only post initials of the other kids.
On Thursday the 15th, Ethan and I were sitting in the house, waiting for Liam to get home from school. We heard the bus pull up and Ethan ran over to the door to open it for him. As he did that I heard “Run home to your Mom, sissy boy!” At that point, I got up, ran past Ethan and ran outside to see what was up.
As I was running to the bus I heard “Gay”, “Fag”, and other random shouting that I couldn’t make out words coming from the bus. The kids were leaning out the windows and laughing at him and pointing. I recognized one kid, M (6th grader, ECS), hanging out of the bus. His mouth was open, but I don’t know what he said.
I found Liam getting off the bus bawling. His face was bright red. He was completely hysterical.
I ran up to the bus driver and asked what was going on. The driver shrugged, said that they were fighting the whole way home. She told me “don’t worry, they are all getting written up”. I asked if she meant Liam too. She said yes, of course, he was fighting right along with the rest of them. I asked why in the heck would an Autistic kid who was obviously the one who was being attacked since the entire bus was hanging out the window pointing and laughing at him was being written up?! She got all defensive and said “Oh I didn’t know anything was WRONG with him. You never told me anything was WRONG with him. You really should tell his school something is WRONG with him. You should tell the district that something is WRONG with him.” (as a side note, Karl said he could tell I was really mad when I didn’t even tell her that there is nothing “wrong” with an Autistic child) Anyways, I told her that the school and bus company is aware of his diagnosis. (His bus stop was changed in the afternoon because of it since the crossing guard leaves 30-45 mins before their bus arrives and I didn’t want him walking along Frankstown Road when the bus has to go past our house anyways). I also pointed out that even if SHE didn’t know, the other students from ECS knew. I pointed at M and said that HE knew and I told him I was very disappointed that he was acting like that (he’s a 6th grader!!) when I was STANDING RIGHT THERE and I knew who he was, not to mention that they are taught better at ECS.
The bus driver then claimed she had to pull over three times to get them to stop.
As I spoke with the driver, the kids continued to giggle at Liam out the window. M laughed at him out the window along with another boy (I’m guessing it was P, but I don’t know him), and they continued to tease him. M and the other boy, were leaning out the window, looked at me and made a face at Liam.
We went into the house and I called ECS and left a (very very hysterical) message on Mr McCann’s voice mail, then I called ECS’s transportation line and talked to her, who sent me to Ms Frye’s line. I left a message there for her.
Liam’s shoulders, side of his neck, back of his neck, and around his ears (infront of and behind) had red marks on it (I didn’t take pictures since I was afraid of freaking him out more. Wish I would have now….)
I let Liam calm down for a little bit and stop hyperventilating and then asked him what happened.
This is what he told me:
- P (2nd grader from ECS) was teasing him that he liked Justin Beiber and liked boys. (Liam didn’t know what he meant by “you like boys”, which apparently made P and the others tease him even more).
- P and M kept giggling and teasing Liam, making him very upset. Liam said he asked them to stop and they wouldn’t stop.
- P started kicking Liam, Liam tried to put his feet up to defend himself, but claims it didn’t help.
- C (not from ECS, 5th or 6th grader) hit the back of Liam’s seat, but Liam was able to duck down and C only hit the back of Liam’s seat repeatedly.
- M hit Liam.
- Ca (female, 6th grader from ECS) threw stuff at Liam (Liam says it looked like she tore off a piece of the seat patch).
- Liam did hit back in defense. He also says he hit C with his (soft side) lunch box at one point when C was attacking him.
- Kids in back (older kids from other schools) were “cheering” on and yelling “fight fight fight” the whole time.
I decided right then that Liam is going to be driven to and from school until this is dealt with. The mention of “bus” is pretty much sending the kid into a fit complete with a rash. Not to mention what it’s doing to me.
Friday morning they had a half day:
I drove Liam into school and talked to the Heads of School. They, of course, were appalled that this happened. They told me they would look into it. They weren’t sure what they would find out since it was a half day and Penn Hills doesn’t pick up the kids on half days (so there would be no way to talk to the driver that afternoon) and it would be harder to get ahold of all of the kids to discuss things with them.
They did tell me that Liam probably would get written up since ECS has a “no hands” policy and Liam did hit, but there wouldn’t be a punishment since it seems Liam was pretty much ganged up on.
They also said that they thought someone else must be the “ring leader”, probably M, since P, who is a 2nd grader, wouldn’t know what the homophobic slurs meant. They said that P’s sisters are on the bus and they have apparently confirmed issues before when they have had trouble with him.
Friday at pick up (half day):
Head of School K-3 (Ms Frye) said she did some digging and talked to other kids on the bus and they confirmed C was the one who started the trouble. She couldn’t get everyone together due to the short day, but it seems everything has been matching up to what Liam has been saying.
Girls did report that M was trying to comfort Liam, not pick on him. Liam says that he wasn’t trying to comfort him, and I know that when I went to the bus he was also teasing and making faces out the window at Liam, so if he did start out trying to calm him down, he apparently changed at some point.
Our weekend pretty much sucked after that. I was sick from this that entire weekend. Spent most of the weekend crying. Found myself not wanting Liam to pick anything that might be considered not “boy” enough or that could be picked on by the idiots at school or on the bus. Liam admitted that prior to this incident the kids on the bus made fun of him because his boots are Women’s size (Liam isn’t able to NOT mention that they are Womens’ size. That’s just not possible for him — not to mention it shouldn’t MATTER.).
I’ve always let the boys get pink stuff, or dolls, or “girl” stuff… but that weekend when Liam looked at a pink bathrobe, I freaked and wouldn’t let him buy it. It really really bothered me. All because of these kids. *sigh*
Anyways, Monday Liam had a psych eval. We had talked about a bunch of options, including pulling him from school. I had said I wasn’t sure and wanted to think about my options, so after I dropped him off from that appt, I asked Mr McCann about pulling Liam for rest of year and what would that do with his eligibility for 4th grade next year at ECS. He said we could pull him for rest of 2011 (so for the rest of the week when they are doing parties) with no penalties, but if he is out for more than 10 days, he loses his seat for next year. He said Liam could take the week off if he’d like and they wouldn’t mark him absent if he needed time to calm down.
Ms Frye happened to walk in at that time and she said she had just left me a voice mail. She told me she did some more research. From what she said it seems she thinks Liam was mostly at fault and she said Liam started it by not being able to stop screaming and just calm down after they stopped teasing him. Kids were picking on Liam and teasing, but Liam was screaming. She kept repeating that Liam kept screaming even after the kids stopped. The bus driver had to stop to change seats, but Liam kept screaming. They might have kept teasing and giggling at him, but there were no confirmations on it.
One of the comments was something like “You know how Liam gets worked up and keeps screaming and can’t calm down.” and “he does that at school a lot”.
I left the school and sat in the car outside the school and cried. On Friday she said that others confirmed that Liam was attacked, and then there she said that yes, they were teasing him (she refused to say it was anything about “gay”, but I heard that myself), but he should have been able to control himself. With how everyone was screaming and yelling when that bus pulled outside our house, even a typical child without sensory issues would have freaked. Liam isn’t a typical child without sensory issues. I also SAW and HEARD that they were still teasing and giggling at him when they pulled up infront of our house, so there WAS confirmation. If the first thing I hear is “Run home to your Mom, Sissy Boy”, then yeah, I’m pretty damned sure they continued to tease the whole way.
Thursday night, the night this happened, I had to take my finals, then I had the rest of my class stuff due on Saturday. I ended up failing my stuff miserably since I was so upset. I tried to contact school to see if I could get another extra credit paper or something because of this, and they asked for a report of what happened. I contacted the school on the 22nd to see if the bus company had filed an actual report yet or not. This is the email I received back:
This is what I have found out, the driver has not reported anything to this school, I wonder if he reported the other students to their school.
Student 1 was making noises, Liam didn’t like the noises and asked student 1 to stop.
Student 1 did not stop, Liam started yelling at him to stop, he did not stop, Liam kicked student 1. No one reported student 1 kicking back.
The bus driver pulled over and switched student 1′s seat with student 2, the noises stopped.
Liam continued to scream, yell, and cry.
Student 3 tried calming Liam by telling him to relax and to listen because the noises stopped.
Liam continued to cry/yell.
Student 4 said something along the lines of him being a baby for crying, student 3 still tried to calm Liam.
Students 1,2,3 are from ECS, and student 4 is from another school.
There were no reports of spitting, hitting, or throwing things only the kicking incident.
That’s quite a bit different than Liam’s story, the first report she told me, or even what the driver said (pulling over and changing seats three times).
I’m so frustrated. This mixed with the trouble with no IEP update since 1st grade (he’s in 3rd and legally it’s to be renewed each year), the fact he has been struggling in spelling and reading and I’ve asked about disability testing and it’s gone ignored, the fact that he was given In School Suspension for what was so obviously an anxiety attack, the fact that I had to yell to get the lunch lady to listen to Liam’s diet restrictions (and then found out that what I was told last year by the previous food service director was a bold face LIE) and a few things are still being ignored… I just want to cry (and have spent more time doing that in the last month than anything else I think).
I have a number for an advocate. I wanted to call her this week, but didn’t want to call when Liam was attached to my hip, and he was too sick to go to school Thursday or Friday. Hopefully I can call her on Monday (and possibly send her a link to this entry).
The doctor who did the eval is willing to support me with really anything I want. I’m just now waiting on her paper eval to make it to the office to set up the ISPT and see about getting everything in place. She told me she’d give me what I needed to keep him at ECS or to move him to PACyber if I decided to do that.
I talked to PACyber to see about transferring if we decided to do that. They said no problem. The IS even said that the end of the next semester is at the end of Jan, so that might even be a good transfer time.
Karl would like us to keep him at the school since he was forced to change a lot of times as a kid and it was rough. I was picked on and teased a lot as a kid — on the bus and in class. Thankfully not badly, but enough that I remember it. Karl’s other request is to make it a decision WITH Liam, not a decision FOR Liam, which I totally agree with. I think he can be given a list of the pros and cons for leaving ECS and going somewhere else and make a final decision. I have told him if he does leave, I will make sure he stays in touch with his friends (he’s told me there are about 5 kids in school that don’t tease him and are nice to him).
I just really feel like I’m being blown off by the school. Liam freaks out. Yes. He needs to learn to control that. Yes. But those kids did NOT STOP TEASING. I heard it. I mean, Ethan and I were inside, with the door closed and the TV on and I heard them screaming. There is NOTHING ELSE that “Sissy Boy” ”Gay” ”Fag” could have been. That’s not something I misheard. I didn’t hear them say “Bar” instead of “Car”. If they were screaming like that when a PARENT was standing there, what were they doing when Liam was there?
And if they were acting like that then, what are they going to do when Liam goes back on Monday? Probably beat the shit out of him? Let’s say I drive him back and forth each day this year. Those same kids are going to be there next year. If they haven’t learned right now to act like humans, they’re not going to have learned by next year. Especially if they didn’t get in trouble for this incident. As far as they know, Liam got in trouble, they didn’t, and they got him off of the bus. SCORE! WOO HOO! They got the whiny brat off the bus.
I need to reply back to the school and to the bus company. Give them Liam’s report. See what else has been done. Let them know I’m not going away on this.
Not only did this ruin Yule and Christmas (I could have cared less about the holiday this year, we never decorated, never did Yule stories, nothing.), it messed up my classes, made me sick, and upset the entire family. I bet the other kids had an awesome break. I bet their Moms haven’t puked twice today over this, not to mention another few dozen times over the last few weeks.