His heart felt heavy as he held his daughter in his arms as she cried uncontrollably.
She looked at him, face wet and nose runny and begged him, “Please, Daddy, I don’t want to go!” She refused to tell him why and that made him feel even heavier. This has become their usual morning routine and he had to find out why.
The Valerio family was very emotional on their daughter’s first day of kindergarten but she was bright-eyed and hopeful as she climbed on the bus and she returned home with a big smile and plenty stories.
Every single day was an adventure for her but as soon as she changed schools to Spring Hill, things started going downhill, fast.
Talk About It
In the beginning, their little girl was as happy as can be. But after a while, she seemed a lot less optimistic when they asked her how her day went.
Tomas and his wife gave each other a worried look as the family sat around the dining room table. They knew she was going through a difficult time, but how were they supposed to help her when she wasn’t talking to them.
Didn’t Make Sense
What if she was being bullied, or what if she had a hard time understanding what was going on at school?
Tomas didn’t like not knowing what was bothering his little girl, so he quickly phoned the school. But when he got the answers he wanted, he noticed that something didn’t make sense. He still felt uneasy about it all. What reason did the school have for lying?
It was claimed that their daughter had a hard time adjusting to her teacher’s loud voice. Mrs. Duncan’s voice often times surprised the children but they would eventually get used to it.
They said that the just “needed time” but the parents didn’t believe that was the truth.
Rather Be At Home
His daughter was the shell of who she used to be. She was tired and worn out and she dreaded waking up in the morning.
The situation turned so dire that she started to ask her parents if she could rather stay home. Asking turned into begging which turned into full-blown breakdowns. He held his child in his loving arms and tried his best not to breakdown in front of her. He knew this had to stop.
Something Had To Be Done
He didn’t know what to do. Nobody at the school wanted to help him and any attempt to monitor the teacher was fruitless because she made sure to be on her best behavior while others were watching…
He knew he had to take direct action to help his little girl. He did what he thought was the only thing he could do. He called the police.
Secret Recording Device
He made sure not to provide them with the details yet but he received adequate answers that made him confident in his plan.
As his daughter was getting ready for school the following day, he did what any reasonable father in his position would do. He hid a small recording device in his daughters ponytail. They were finally going to hear what Mrs. Duncan was like behind closed doors.
They did not inform their daughter about the device as they did not want to add on to her stress.
Tomas looked at the clock every 10 minutes, eagerly waiting for 3pm to come. He desperately needed answers. As soon as his daughter walked in he removed the device from her hair and plugged it in.
Tomas’s stomach turned when he listened to the recording. His daughter’s teacher was a bully.
She constantly belittled her students and yelled at them. The parents were red with rage. “No, you obviously don’t understand it”, “Zip it!”, “Are you deaf?”, “That’s common sense!”. These were the awful things his daughter had to listen to everyday. He knew it was time for the next step.
Up The Chain
No, they weren’t going to the teacher or principal. They would go directly to the school board.
After all, the headmaster’s attitude towards the situation was that they were “sheltering their daughter too much” and the girl just needed to toughen up. They stood before the board and presented their case.
Slap On The Wrist
What happened next, the Valerio family couldn’t believe.
The final decision was to discipline the teacher and move their child to another classroom. But what about the other kids? And if a teacher had been a 13-year bully, one slap on the wrist wouldn’t change anything. No, they wanted her out of the classroom.
Tomas gripped his phone tight as the school board said the recordings were inadmissible because it “went against their policies and rules”.
The cops told him they should have given more details beforehand but now they couldn’t help. No one would do anything. Had the world gone crazy?!
However, word had spread around the school and to other parents.
Next was to start a petition to have the teacher fired, or, at minimum, removed from any front-facing positions around children. The page ended up with over 2000 signatures. Was it going to be enough?
Sadly, the school board stayed firm in their position. They weren’t interested in any arguments of educator responsibilities and adaptation to student’s needs.
Kindergarten and early grades are huge in the formation of kid’s socialization skills, problem-solving, and so many other facets of their lives. Mrs. Duncan was failing as a teacher.
Tomas argued there was “being loud but being loud with the right tone”.
Kindergarten should be a place of fun and excitement as well as a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them – and not be punished for them. The end result wasn’t what they hoped for but it was better than nothing…
First, their daughter was transferred to a new classroom, and the change was almost immediate.
The bright smile returned and Tomas could finally breathe easily again. The creative streak returned and dinner conversations were full of joy. As for Mrs. Duncan?
I’m From New York
She gave every manner of excuse, including that she was “from New York” and had always done things that way when she taught there – including word choices of “are you deaf?” (which the administration did say they were not happy with).
Her reprimand wasn’t much either.
Keep It Down
The punishment was just a reminder to keep her “loudness down a bit” and watch her tone.
Some parents have come to the woman’s defense, but there are at least 2000 who disagreed with the woman’s sense of compassion, patience, and handling of more delicate kids. The Valerio family also has their own updates.
Tomas looks at the ordeal as something that has made their family stronger.
Their children know their parents will always be there for them and fight for them. They’ve also found better ways to communicate about what’s happening at school. Their daughter is now happy, and that’s all they want.