Expert Advice

Teacher Abuses Gifted Child

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q
My highly gifted 11-year-old son is failing a couple of courses and becoming frustrated in school because he feels he is treated unfairly by this particular teacher. She has thrown his notebook in the garbage can, intimidated him in front of his peers, and has spoken to him in a rude and abrasive tone of voice. She has not contacted me about any of these problems.

This teacher speaks very rudely and abrasively to me, and she has lied to me about my son in front of others. Unfortunately, she has the support of the principal and one of the vice-principals. I've already spoken to the superintendent's office about the situation and they suggested I file a formal complaint. Would this make matters worse?

A
It appears to me that you have to make a decision between the education your child is receiving in the gifted class and what may be happening to him emotionally due to the teacher's apparent abuse. How is your son feeling about the class? Is he willing to stick it out even if the teacher doesn't change? Is it worth it to both of you that he stay in the accelerated class?

As for filing a formal complaint, it might cause more conflict but you will have to determine if the respectful treatment of your son and perhaps other students is worth the conflict. At this point you have taken some important and appropriate steps in trying to resolve this issue. I don't see that you have anything to lose by filing the formal complaint and you may have a lot to gain. Good luck.

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

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