It shattered his heart into a million pieces as he held his sobbing daughter in his arms.
Through uncontrollable tears, she begged, “Please, Daddy, I don’t want to go!” What made the situation all the more unbearable was that she wouldn’t tell him why. This had to stop. He had to find out why this was happening every single day.
The first day of kindergarten had been very emotional for the entire Valerio family, but their daughter hopped on the bus with a huge smile and returned home with plenty of enthusiastic stories.
A creative streak bloomed and every day was a new adventure. But when they transferred her to Spring Hill, things changed.
What started as a bright, beaming grin, quickly turned into long stretches of silence and one-word answers or shrugs when they asked how her day went.
Tomas and his wife exchanged worried looks over dinner. Adjusting to a new school could be difficult, but if she wouldn’t talk, how they couldn’t help her?
Maybe it was a bully? Perhaps the teaching methods were different and she was struggling?
Tomas picked up the phone and called the school. He couldn’t wait any longer. However, when he finally got answers, something didn’t add up. Every part of him still felt something was very off. What was the school’s reason?
They said that their little girl was having trouble adjusting to her teacher, Mrs. Duncan.
The woman had a fairly powerful voice so it could carry over the whole classroom of chatting children. It would sometimes surprise the kids but they would get used to it. According to them, she just “needed time”. Both parents weren’t buying it.
Tomas watched as his daughter degraded into a shell of a girl – beaten down and hating her days.
It got so bad that she started to ask to skip school. Then the asking became begging which turned into tear-filled meltdowns. Tomas held his daughter in his big arms and tried to hold back his own tears. This had to stop.
But what could he do? The school principal wasn’t helping at all, and any request to watch the woman would only result in the teacher being on whatever “best behavior” would placate them.
No … he needed to take direct action. He picked up the phone and called the police station.
He wouldn’t give them the details just yet, but he got enough answers to know if he could move forward with his plan.
The next day, as they were getting their daughter ready, he pulled out a small recording device and secretly hid it in her hair under a big white bow. They were going to hear exactly what went on with Mrs. Duncan.
What they didn’t do was tell their daughter. The last thing they wanted was more stress piled on the girl’s already heavy day.
Tomas waited impatiently for 3 pm to come, so he could get answers. As soon as she walked through the door, his wife gave her a huge hug and he removed the device and plugged it in.
What he heard made him stick to his stomach. The teacher wasn’t just “loud” … she was a bully.
She screamed most of the time and regularly belittled the students. “No, obviously you don’t understand it”, “Zip it!”, “Are you deaf?”, “That’s common sense!” Both parents turned pale … then they turned red with rage. It was time for the next step.
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.
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?
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.
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.