When mainstream teachers attack: The crossing-guard, part two

Children crossing

Image by gingerbeardman via Flickr

You’ll remember (or can look up) the initial confrontation I had with a local mainstream school teacher on Friday, who decided she was the enforcer of the road rules against the driver of my son’s special needs school van. Essentially, the taxi driver is forced to park – very briefly – on yellow dotted lines outside our home, for the safety of my own son and the other special needs children he takes to and from school. This local teacher was on the crossing guard that day and took it upon herself to threaten me and the taxi driver with police intervention (and she did so in an exceedingly and un-necessarily rude and inconsiderate way).

This morning the taxi driver tells me a teacher from that school (he thinks it may have been the principal), confronted him and told him he was not to stop outside our home. He tried to explain why he does, and went further to make a very important point: If he did what he is legally entitled to do – which is pull into the footpath area of our drive-way – he would be an objective and serious hazard to their own mainstream students. Stopping on the footpath portion of our driveway not only places him in the direct path of their students, it also requires him to back into the very crossing they are so concerned about. But this is what they force him to do if they continue to threaten him with police action for stopping on yellow lines outside our own home.

So I sent an email to the principal this morning (who – completely incidentally – happens to be a friend of my parents), explaining why the driver stops where he must, going into detail about the safety concerns for the special needs children including my own son (I outlined most of those in that original post on Friday). I haven’t heard back from him, as drop-off time rolled around.

Drop-off time, 20 minutes after the local school has finished, and my son’s taxi van pulls up. There is only one student from the local school still present; everyone else, as usual, has left for home. That student is across the road, standing beside someone who suspiciously looks like the teacher Claire who started this whole situation (over something which has been going on since the start of the year, but wasn’t an issue until she decided she was the local enforcement officer). I figure I’m been paranoid – why would she wait 20 minutes after school ends just to watch for our son’s taxi van?

As the van pulls up though – away from the yellow lines since it is a Wednesday and the taxi driver never parks on the yellow lines on Wednesday since the rubbish bins block the van door (again, because he puts safety first at all times) – and this suspiciously familiar lady watches us, then walks away. The taxi driver himself tells me that he thinks that’s the lady who harassed him last time, and also noticed she left only after he pulled up. I tell him to keep doing what he always does – parking on the yellow lines everyday that’s not Wednesday – since both him and I know that is the absolute safest practice for both the special needs children and the mainstream kids.

I want to say this is just a lone woman, who thinks the letter of the law is more important than the purpose of the law – which is specifically to keep our school children safe. I want to say this is not about my son having special needs. But both I and the taxi driver feel under attack here. We have tried to explain that these are special needs kids with special needs (obviously), that require a bit of understanding, compassion and leniency. We’ve been forced to explain this to this woman who has no right or power to change our actions but continues to threaten and intimate us. But the special needs are irrelevant to her. She doesn’t understand, or she doesn’t care, and either way she has dedicated herself to enforcing a rule that endangers children. This from a teacher at a mainstream school. From the same school I have written about a few times before; the school that made us feel unwelcome and unwanted when we took our autistic son there at the start of the year to investigate whether he would fit into a mainstream school setting.

I’m still waiting on that reply from the principal. The taxi driver (who is a very compassionate and thoughtful man) doesn’t want to be put in the position where he endangers the local mainstream school kids by pulling onto the footpath area of our driveway. But his contractual (and moral) responsibility is to keep the special needs children in that van – including my own son – safe. And I will not ask him to de-prioritize that primary responsibility for the sake of one woman on a mission, a teacher – with seemingly the backing of that school – dedicated to making sure our family and my child are treated as second-class citizens outside our very own home.

I have enough to worry about without being under attack by Claire. She, on the other-hand, clearly has nothing better to do. Our lives are worlds apart. She clearly doesn’t have to deal with children like my son, and frankly I’m glad she doesn’t. I’m reinforced in my impression that the local mainstream school was not the best place for my autistic son. And I shall not be sending my second born there either; I don’t want either of my children around people like that.

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7 Responses to When mainstream teachers attack: The crossing-guard, part two

  1. Kristina H says:

    As you say, you have enough to worry about without this petty minded woman making your life more difficult. Thank goodness you have a taxi driver with empathy and understanding – he sounds like a saint. It strikes me though that Claire sounds a little bit “on the spectrum” herself….. Now that my oldest son has been diagnosed with Aspergers (and also my husband), I’m beginning to notice people with Aspergers tendencies all around. My son has great difficulty in seeing any such nuances – a law is a law to him and he finds it almost impossible to see the reasoning behind bending any rules. This may not be the case with Claire, of course. It may be that she genuinely is being petty minded but either way, it’s causing you undue stress and is the last thing you need! Hope the principal gets back to you with a reasonable response. x

    • Thanks for your support Kristina 🙂

      I’ve since found out that the principal is currently overseas, so last night I sent the email I’d originally sent to him, to the deputy principal too. Still no reply though. Very frustrating.

      My husband suggests I take the matter to my son’s special needs school and ask them to advocate on our behalf – to at least get the mainstream school to understand the situation we’re in and not harass us the way they have been allowing their teacher to do – but I want to see the principal / deputy principal’s reply first. I’m still hopeful they’ll realise they’re picking on a family and taxi driver who are just doing their best to keep school children safe!

  2. KWombles says:

    I hope the principal comes through for you.

  3. Tsara says:

    Wow. Your ‘Clair’ posts are giving me serious PTSD! My mom raised eight of us on her own, four of my brothers were autistic, two of my sisters homeless teenagers with serious baggage and then moms biological girls– me and my little sister. You can imagine how much the outside world was challenged by us! And to make matters worse my mom was both pretty and mostly happy. No woe-is-me conversations over tea and crumpets with the neighbors or school personnel. As a mom myself I’m always in awe of how confident my mom seemed, how willing to trust her gut and fight for what she knew was right for us… even when the world was yelling at her and telling her to do everything different. Like you, Linda, knowing that the safety of your son and the other children on the bus is what’s important and working your butt off to handle the situation with kindness and logic. Parents of disabilities, especially ASD, have to learn to hear themselves over the grumbling, complaining, uneducated and fearful others. I truly hope the principal comes through for you… however I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t. Time and time again my mom was put in the position of asking others to open their eyes to the beauty of her children and the learnings they had to offer. Almost always she was asking too much.

    But every now and then we were gifted with a surprising and lovely ally. Perhaps the principal will be one of yours! Hugs!!

  4. Tsara says:

    Oh dear… I spelled ‘Claire’ wrong… lets not tell her… we wouldn’t want her to be in a bad mood!

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