Searching For Answers
It had been happening for a while now when Tomas Valero arrived at the school to pick his daughter up, only to find that she was crying. There was obviously something upsetting her, but he had no idea what.
He would eventually find the reason behind the tears, but he is surprised by what he finds. But before that, he had to find a way to get his needed answers. He would get to the bottom of it no matter what it took.
When children start going to school, they need all the support their parents have to offer. Starting school can become daunting to them, and the adjustment is rarely easy.
The teacher could be kind and the children sweet, but that didn’t make the experience scary. They had new faces, environments, and routines to adjust to. It was not something they would get the hang of overnight.
Wanting To Help
As difficult as it was to grow accustomed to the new environment, it didn’t help if they didn’t get along with the teacher. It’s a time of their lives when they are unsure of other people’s tempers.
Over time, Tomas realized that his daughter had been having a hard time since starting school, and he wanted to help her. However, to do that, he had to find out what was upsetting her.
Life As A Parent
Any parent would know that their child is their pride and joy and that they would do anything for their baby to be happy. They know the feeling of heartache whenever their child is hurting, and Tomas is the same.
It broke his heart to see how much his daughter started struggling, and he couldn’t help growing concerned. He was alarmed by how his daughter had started behaving.
It Was The Nerves
The change in his daughter had happened so suddenly that it wasn’t difficult for him to notice. She had just started at her new school and had become more emotional than usual.
Tomas tried to put himself in her shoes and figured she was nervous about meeting people and doing her best in school. But he was proven wrong when things only got worse. What wasn’t he seeing?
Tomas’ daughter started coming to him with tears shining in her eyes and asking if she could stay at home. It wasn’t long before the Valero family heard her begging to stay home every day.
He dreaded waking up in the mornings to find his little girl sobbing. It worried him to see her like this, but things didn’t get any better. Tomas eventually decided he needed to get a handle on the situation.
Terrified Of School
Her crying went on for weeks, and it eventually continued for months. It was like his daughter had changed entirely, and he found no happiness in her anymore.
What he found more worrying was her fear of going to school. It looked as though she was battling herself to school, and he knew something was seriously wrong when she said she never wanted to go to school again.
He Had To Do Something
Tomas did what any father in his position would do and asked his daughter was wrong. But he got no answers from her – she would shut down entirely and stay silent.
Tomas couldn’t sit by and do nothing about seeing his daughter this upset. His heart couldn’t handle it. That’s when he decided there had to be something he could do.
A Lovely Little Girl
Tomas’ daughter had just been enrolled in the Pine Grove Elementary kindergarten, and Tomas thought she would be happy there. But his thoughts changed when he noticed the change in her behavior after starting there.
Tomas knew his daughter to be a friendly, happy, and healthy girl with a creative mind who made friends with everyone around her. It seemed as though she had lost those traits, and he couldn’t help but wonder why.
When Had It Started?
It became apparent to him that the behavior change he noticed in his daughter had begun when she started at her new school.
His mind zoned in on time, and he realized how quickly she went from a little girl who smiled almost every second to someone who cried. Tomas wondered if it was because of the children, the school, or perhaps the teacher.
She Used To Do Well In School
Until this all happened, his daughter had been doing well in school. She got good grades, not to mention, the detailed feedback reports about her had all been positive, for the most part.
All the same, only a few months after she had started going to this school, her grades, as well as her demeanor, started to slip.
Feeling So Powerless
To top it off, she would get emotional before as well as after school. What was happening? It became too much for Tomas to see his little girl act like this.
He felt so powerless. However, he knew all the same that it was time to get to the bottom of the situation. He had reached a breaking point.
The Concerned Father
We’re sure any parent would feel worried about the well-being of their child. It was hard seeing his daughter unhappy every day.
He was beginning to get more and more worried about her. The more he tried finding out what was wrong, the more the little girl shrank away. That’s when he realized what could really be going on.
A Stable, Happy Life
He thought about it a lot. Then, he came to the conclusion that she must be getting bullied by one of her classmates or even by one of her teachers.
They had a stable and happy family life back at home, so he knew that couldn’t be the root of his daughter’s unhappiness. But how could he find out the truth?
Patience Is A Virtue
It’s very important to be patient. It might even be one of the most important virtues we can all learn, even if it’s difficult to practice.
When it comes to teaching small kids, this becomes that much more valuable. If you ever had to deal with kids, then you know how hard they can be to handle. As an educator, patience is part of the job requirement.
Her Formative Years
Even more concerning was that his daughter was still so young. She was in her formative years, meaning that she was going through a crucial and important time of her life.
What happens during this time of her life will mold her into the adult she will be in the future. That’s why it was so important that Tomas got to the bottom of it.
Tomas and his wife raised their two daughters and one son with a certain mindset, always making sure to surround them with positivity and encouraging them to be their best selves.
They know how important it is to develop a strong sense of self in kids to prepare them for what the future holds. Tomas wasn’t going to let all his hard work be for nothing.
The Tip Of The Iceberg
Keeping Tomas and his wife’s family values in mind, it makes sense that a harsh, mean teacher can seriously harm the children she cares for in the classroom.
Tomas and his wife definitely didn’t want that for their little girl. They started suspecting that they were only just discovering the tip of the iceberg — and uncovering a much bigger and ongoing problem.
Taking Matters Into His Own Hands
Being a resourceful person, Tomas decided he needed to figure out what was going on with his daughter.
He was having a hard time since his daughter was too young and shy to tell him about what was going on with her. It was time for the worried dad to take matters into his own hands.
Being the father that he is, he couldn’t just let his daughter get sadder and sadder with each passing day. He had enough and decided he was going to be the one to do something about it.
The only question was how? He thought about it for a while. Then he finally came up with the perfect plan.
Catching Her In The Act
But how could Tomas hear what was happening at school without having to be there at the time?
He knew that if he asked to sit in on the class one day, the teacher would just change her behavior. He needed a more creative solution to make sure he was catching her in the act.
And so, Tomas decided to ‘listen in’ – literally. He planned and built a tiny hearing device. The next morning, he carefully placed it in his daughter’s hair.
This would allow him to listen to exactly what was going on at her school. Hopefully, it would allow him to understand what she was experiencing there.
He knew this was a very drastic way to go about it, but it was important to him. It was important not only to know what was going on but to have proof on hand as well.
He didn’t tell his daughter what he was putting in her hair since he thought it might distract her throughout the day.
Tomas couldn’t wait to see what would happen over the course of the school day. He waited for his daughter at the door and smiled at her as she ran up the driveway.
He was excited to finally get that smile he knows and loves back on her face again. And soon, he’d know exactly what had been troubling her.
When Tomas started listening to the recording when she came home, he was shell-shocked about what he heard.
After listening to the whole thing, he was absolutely livid. He couldn’t believe that this had been going on for so long! But, even though he was furious, he was still glad that he finally knew what was going on.
Listening To The Recording
From the recording, it sounded like the teacher was being very mean to the students in her class.
Tomas continued listening to the recording and realized this must be the reason for his daughter’s problems. He knew there was no time to waste. It was time for him to do something about it. He had to act fast.
He could tell that the teacher was taking advantage of her position in power. It hurt and infuriated Tomas to hear the person they had paid to care for their daughter behaving so callously.
But why? He really couldn’t wrap his head around it at first. Why would she do this to her young students?
Tone And Words
As he was listening, he found out that the teacher not only said offensive things to her students,, but her condescending tone was also unnecessarily mean.
The recording allowed Tomas to hear just how much she screamed and yelled at the kids in her care over the most trivial things. What should he do now?
It sickened Tomas to see that a teacher would behave in such a way, so he decided it was time to raise the issue with the public school district.
When things like this happen to your children, it’s usually easier to take it up with someone who has the power to do something about it.
Taking Action Against Her
He knew that approaching the teacher in question would get him nowhere. So, Instead of talking to the teacher directly, Tomas decided there was a much better chance of changing things if he turned to the state school board instead.
So that’s what he did. He set up an appointment to tell his and his daughter’s side of the story.
Despite the fact that Tomas had a valid complaint as well as proof to back it up, the school district did nothing to help him in any way.
He couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the response he got from them. To him, it was absolutely sickening that the teacher had been tearing down children on a daily basis.
Can you imagine just how upsetting it must be to hear they weren’t willing to do anything about this problem?
They did say they disciplined the teacher for what she did, but that wasn’t enough for Tomas. And what would happen when his daughter went back to school? He wanted them to do more than that.
Taking It Upon Himself
Tomas wasn’t happy at all about the response he received from the authorities. The teacher was still teaching the class his daughter was in.
He couldn’t help but feel like it was time for retribution. Soon enough, he made the decision to take it upon himself to do something about Mrs. Duncan, the mean kindergarten teacher.
What About The Other Kids?
The school offered to move his daughter to another class, but this wasn’t just about his daughter anymore.
Tomas was worried about the safety and well-being of the other kids in her class as well. As a parent, he knew he had to stand up for his child, but also for all the other children.
Never Giving Up
He was upset the school didn’t offer much in the sense of support or change. It was a problem that would greatly affect the lives of all these kids.
As long as Mrs. Duncan was teaching, there will be children affected by her anger. Even though he and the other parents protested together, the school didn’t budge. However, he and the parents refused to give up.
Word got out about what was happening in the school. Everyone heard about how Mrs. Duncan treated the little girls in her class.
Tomas didn’t get a lot of support after his initial attempts to get justice, but things started turning around when he made a petition on Change.org. Soon, parents everywhere were outraged.
The petition that Tomas started was titled “Remove Mrs. Duncan from Classrooms.” It explains how he had approached the issue with the principal but they had done nothing about the situation.
“We went to the school the next day to speak to the principal. When we explained what was happening, the principal told us that the teacher was just naturally loud and our daughter just needed to get used to her. “Kids get to an age where they shouldn’t be sheltered” is what they told us.”
Hoping She Would Adjust
“So, we continued to send our daughter to school, hoping she would adjust. She never did. Every day, she would come home crying about school and every morning she would cry about going,” the petition continues.
“…This really hit my wife hard, though. She would cry every night as well. We were too late in the year to do school choice, so we were pretty much stuck at this school.”
The petition explains how Tomas and his wife had made sure that what they were about to do was legal before building the recording device.
They had checked beforehand that everything was above-board before going ahead with the plan. Apparently, the recording device was also Tomas’ wife’s idea.
A Public Setting
“My wife got the idea to place a recorder on our daughter to see what was going on. I told her she was insane and paranoid. I was wrong,” Tomas wrote.
“After checking with the sheriff’s office, we found that it was perfectly legal to place a recording device on our daughter in school, as schools and classrooms are seen as public settings. So we did.”
Even Worse Than They Thought
“When our daughter came home, we listened to the recording. What we heard was worse than I thought. I expected to hear some yelling here and there, as this was a room full of 5-year-olds,” Tomas continued.
“Instead, the teacher spent the entire day screaming at, bullying, and belittling the little kids. This is not how kindergartners should be treated. They come to school to learn. For some, this is their first experience with school. They should feel safe to learn. Not scared to ask questions because the teacher will bully them.”
Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Happen
“I captured some of the clips that show the way this teacher treats her students. Some might say that the clips are out of context. I can assure you that they are not,” Tomas’ petition continues.
“We have the full 6-hour school day recorded and it is filled with this screaming and bullying from the teacher. This should not be allowed to happen.”
“I know that this happens all the time in schools and nobody knows about it. I also know that much worse things happen in classrooms,” Tomas continues.
“That being said, we have 100% definitive proof that this is happening. Just because it could be worse, or it happens all the time, does not mean it should be accepted.”
They Refused To Listen
“Anyway, we took the recording to the principal. We informed other parents and they joined us in the meeting. The school refused to listen to the recordings,” Tomas continued angrily.
“The entire meeting was spent with them defending the teacher. They informed us that an investigation was going to be held. The recordings, however, ARE NOT PART OF THE INVESTIGATION.”
“The undeniable proof of what is occurring is not going to be used in the investigation. Instead, they will talk to students and other teachers. That’s it,” Tomas’ wrote.
“I still do not understand how a principal can claim to care about the students and say this behavior is not tolerated, but then completely ignore the one thing that proves it is happening.”
Soon enough, the public arrived to rally around his house. He had over 2,000 signatures for the dismissal of Mrs. Duncan in no time.
It was an even bigger surprise when Tomas found himself in the middle of the media spotlight. Local news channels heard about what was going on at Pine Grave and they admired Tomas for his determination to get justice.
Far And Wide
It didn’t take long for the story to pop up all across the country. It meant that people all over the nation would hear about what this teacher did to the kids in her class.
Even if Tomas wasn’t able to have Mrs. Duncan fired, this gave him a small sense of hope that things could still change.
By far, the worst thing about what the teacher did to Tomas’ daughter is that it was going to have a lasting effect on the child — and the other kids in her class.
Things that kids pick up when they’re so young tend to stay with them for a very long time, if not for the rest of their lives.
Putting A Stop To It
Had Tomas not noticed his daughter’s strange and uncharacteristic behavior and not worked hard to get to the bottom of things, she might have been traumatized for the rest of her life.
He was glad he had tried to put a stop to it. But it was a serious thing that also affected the other kids there, too.
A Good Mentor
Anyone who has kids knows how challenging it is to be a good mentor by leading by example. A lot of times, one will first have to scrutinize and criticize their own actions and behaviors.
This isn’t easy to get done, but it’s essential if you want to be a good role model for your kids.
Tomas did learn from this experience that there would be times when things are out of his control no matter how much he tried to be the best parent he could be.
Despite this, he would go through hell and back to ensure the safety of his daughter. He also wanted to keep this from happening to other kids.
A Teacher’s Responsibility
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to impart lessons that go further than the set curriculum. They should help improve the imaginations and minds of the kids they teach.
These are things that will leave a massive impact on the lives of the kids as they grow older. A teacher is meant to inspire the kids they teach.
Did It Work?
It’s never a good idea for teachers to display abusive behaviors and assert their dominance by instilling fear in their students.
All this does is stifle the progress of the kids and make them more anxious and fearful overall, and make them scared to go to school. Did Tomas’ efforts to fix the problem work? We’ll have to find out.
While Mrs. Duncan continues teaching at the school, we hope she’s at least come to the realization of how harsh she’d been to the kids in her class and how detrimental it’s been for them all.
Tomas is still hoping against hope that the necessary changes will happen since he knows he’s in the right.
Standing Up For The Kids
It felt to Tomas like the school had been putting the lives of the kids at stake all thanks to the short temper of one teacher.
He learned it would be impossible to make changes if he didn’t take a stand. He desperately hopes his actions change the school system even just a little to make sure other kids wouldn’t be harmed.
Stronger Than Ever
This entire ordeal had been hard on him and his daughter, but eventually, Tomas admitted that it made their family that much stronger.
He never would have found out that something like this was happening if he didn’t go the extra mile and take extra steps to get to the bottom of his child’s strange behavior.
By this point, his daughter is attending a class taught by a different teacher. If anything, Tomas learned how important it is to pay attention to his daughter and how she’s acting.
This has made him a better dad thanks to what happened — even though he had to face some hard truths along the way.
No matter what happens, Tomas will always be there for his daughters and son. He and his wife will stand up for their kids whenever and however they need to.
Without great, attentive parents who recognized the problem and did something about it, their little daughter would still be getting bullied relentlessly by her teacher.
Setting An Example
Since the very day their little daughter left the hospital, her parents have always had her best interests at heart and have always been concerned about her health and well-being.
Even more importantly, they know their daughter so well that they know when something is wrong. This is what makes them good parents. Tomas and Laici always make sure to care for the needs of all three kids they have.
Supporting Our Kids
In order for kids to grow up and mature into productive and balanced members of society, having at least one parent with a good head on their shoulders and a good heart always helps.
A stable home life prepares the child for other things later in life. Aliya is truly lucky to have such a great support system!
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental