When I was in elementary school I was bullied because I was—and still am—a little different, personality-wise, from most other kids. Among other things, I had (and still have) ADD. I would leave class to take tests and do assignments elsewhere, with extra time to do them. Other students labelled me “different” for this, and they picked on me and even to some degree, bullied me all throughout my time at that school. By fourth and fifth grade, I began having serious mental and physical health issues. My classmates seemed to sense my vulnerability.
And escalated their bullying
The added stress created confusion and anger in me, translating into confrontations and fights. Following standard procedure, the school’s principal became involved.
That wasn’t a good thing. You see, she believed that special needs kids didn’t belong in her school. She also believed quite firmly that bullying most definitely didn’t occur at her school.
The problem was, she was a bully, too.
Labelled as a troublemaker, whenever I was sent to her office, I ended up punished at least, and usually more, severely, than the kids who taunted and pushed me into a fight. And kid bullies are smart—once they figured out always got in more trouble than they did, they dialed the provocation up to 11, making my situation grow increasingly worse as my school principal sided with them in making my life more difficult and more miserable.
My parents talked to counselors, lawyers, the school board, and even forced a meeting with the superintendent about the principal’s behavior. They also looked to other parents in the school. Not surprisingly, they found others experiencing the same problems with their kids and the principal and encouraged them to complain to the school board as well.
The school board, though, declined to act. They disregarded the parents as the principal’s behavior toward more challenging students such as myself worsened and worsened until at last the parents were able to force the school board to act—and even then, their action was to wait out the principals contract for years and then simply decline to renew it. They chose the administratively easy way to do it rather than take more immediate action to protect the students suffering bullying from their own elementary school principal.
Pyngby would have been a big help to my parents and the school in ending the principal’s bullying. This was still eight years before the Megan Meier tragedy, and the laws and school policies on bullying were weak compare to today. An attorney had provide them some legal advice on what few options they had. My parents did what the existing technology allowed: they bought a small tape recorder and began recording their meetings with the principal and all of her misdirections and inappropriate comments. But because the tapes could be manipulated, the school district would not accept them as proof. With Pyngby’s powerful evidentiary capabilities, that wouldn’t have been an issue. They would have had proof of a principal dismissing the severe emotional distress of their child, declaring that it couldn’t be real because—and this is a direct quote—“There are no bullies in my school!” With stronger evidence, maybe they would have acted more immediately and more decisively, and kids like myself wouldn’t have had to suffer so much and for so long under someone who had no business, in my opinion, working with children at all.
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