A Cambridge mother says she’s doing everything she can to protect her eight-year-old son from bullying and maltreatment by students and teachers at a local elementary school, even though the school board has warned keeping him home could result in intervention by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.
Paulet Biedermann, a social justice activist, author and radio personality, said she pulled her son out of a local public school last year at the advice of a doctor, because she said he was being bullied so bad he was urinating and defecating in his pants.
“He was afraid to go to the washroom because the kids would follow him in and lock him in stalls and God knows what else,” Biedermann said, choking back tears.
The boy’s problems at school have been compounded by the sudden death of his father earlier this year.
Currently enrolled in Grade 3 at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School, he was learning under an independent education plan (IEP), requiring one-on-one instruction and extra time to complete tasks.
But Biedermann said problems started at his new school when, unbeknownst to her, he was placed in a classroom with a “high-needs” Grade 7 student and given various tasks to perform, such as making popcorn, vacuuming and crafting a drum.
When she inquired, she was told her son needed to learn “sequencing,” but she found that difficult to fathom.
“He makes popcorn here at home all the time,” she said, alluding to his involvement in karate classes, Sunday school, drama and music clubs, as well as Spelling Bee Canada and a junior life saving program at the YMCA.
According to the Education Act, the school must consult the parent(s) if revisions of the IEP result in significant changes to a student's learning expectations and/or to the level of special education accommodation.
Because her son was segregated, Biedermann said his peers started to treat him differently. Some ostracized him and called him names. He’s now in therapy.
The mother maintains she’s asked board officials to investigate, to no avail. She contends teachers and the principal called her son a liar, and because she fears for his well-being, she’s decided to keep him home from school.
With the support of friends, she protested outside the school last week.
“Some of my concerns reflect serious breaches of the WCDSB’s policy, the Education Act and The Human Rights Code of Ontario,” she wrote in a recent letter to the board.
“I am the mother of a little black boy with a disability who suffered mistreatment and injustices in one of the schools you are in charge of and your treatment of us so far is way below the level that any parent or child should be treated by a school board or its representative.”
The school board cannot comment on individual students cases due to confidentiality and privacy laws, however, it has legal obligations under the Education Act to ensure all children under the age of 16 attend school.
Chief managing officer John Shewchuk provided the Times with sections of the Education Act pertaining to compulsory attendance.
“Unfortunately, this is one of those times when we can’t really say anything of substance due to student confidentiality restrictions,” he said in an email. “About all I can say is the school has been working with the family for quite some time and those lines of communication remain open.”
The school board has given Biedermann three options – transition her son back to St. Joseph School, or another Catholic school within the system, or complete the necessary paperwork to allow him to be home-schooled.
According to an email Biedermann shared with the Times, board officials came with an ultimatum: “Regrettably, in the event that the board does not receive the completed home school forms … in light of (his) lengthy absence from school, the board will have no choice but to contact the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.”
Biedermann doesn’t want to see her son bounce from school to school, and simply wants the board to investigate her complaints.
For now, she plans to keep her son home.
“The board has ignored repeated requests to investigate my concerns of abuse and negligence,” she said.
“It’s not healthy, but if a little kid is being bullied so severely, what are you going to do?"
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Posted By: Sandee |
4/24/13 5:33 AM
WHAT IF THIS WAS YOUR KID?
Kids as young as 7 years old are taking their own lives secondary to the excruciating pain resultant of bullying. Are we so cold and calloeus that we turn a blind eye to the plight of these kids? What will it take for us to pay attention and give bullying the attention it warrants? Some of you say:"I cant relate to the bullying issue" well, the bullying issue is a human issue. What if it were your child?
Some people called this poor lady all kinds of names and fault her for protecting her son. Perhaps you need to talk to some parents whose kids were bullied by the Catholic school and when they spoke out they were threatened to have children aids take their kids away. Its a scare tatic employed by the catholic school board to intimidate. But it works! most parent back down and let them get away with this abuse of power and breach of human rights. I applaud her for standing up, her case is good for all of us.Do you know anything about her? well I do. She is one of the most authentic and giving person you would ever want to meet. She is a kind woman who have helped thousands of people, kids and adult from all walks of life included . She has given lots to her community, and so before you judge her, please ask yourself, what if this was my child? Lets support her in her fight for justice. Whose child will be next?