We knew it was going to be a busy week before it even started. On top of the usual schedule of work, child-related activities and basketball, we had a mother-daughter’s night scheduled with our cousins and a girls’ night-out for me. I was also getting back to swimming in the morning after nearly a month and a half injury and sickness induced hiatus.
Monday went well. Daniel seemed to be doing really well with his homework and tutor. He has recently started using a color overlay with his reading and it seems to be giving him significant help with his dyslexia.
Tuesday morning, I was at work and looking forward to attending the play, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at a local theater with my daughter, cousin-in-law and her daughter. I wasn’t even thinking that much about Daniel or school Everything seemed quiet on that front. I was enjoying that relief when I got a phone call at work.
“Hello, Mrs. McC*****. This is Mr. Gil****, the vice principal at ****** Middle School.”
The moment I heard his name, I knew this wasn’t going to be good news.
“We have Daniel here with us, myself and Ms. E**** (ESE Liaison).” he continued, “Daniel brought a multitool on the bus this morning. he says he wanted to use the knife in it to carve his name in a tree near the bus stop.”
“Because it has several blades, approximately 2 inches each, we have to consider it a weapon. Now bringing a weapon to school is an automatically expellable offense.”
It sounded surreal to hear him say my son had brought a weapon to school.
“What usually happens is the child is given a 3 day suspension and at the end of that is referred to an alternative school. However, because Daniel does have an IEP in place it is a little different process. I will let Ms. E**** explain that.”
I could hear a slight commotion in the background that sounded like Daniel crying. My heart ached.
“Hello Mrs. Mc*****,” begain Mrs. E****, “We are going to handle this. I can’t say it is going to be alright but we are going to get through this.”
I know Mrs. E**** and have worked with her several times over the last year. I knew she was saying this for both Daniel’s and my benefit. I also knew that she couldn’t just say it was all going to be ok.
“Daniel has been very good about this and very upfront. He is here and he is ok. Now, when a child has an IEP in place, instead of just being expelled, at the end of the mandatory suspension, we have to have a Mandatory Determination Meeting. The point of that meeting is to determine whether or not we think that the incident that occurred was related to the child’s disability. If we determine that it is, then we are not required to expel the student. We will then determine what needs to happen next. However, If we determine that it is not related, then alternative school placement will be recommended.”
“Now,” it was Mr. Gil**** again, “if someone can come and pick up Daniel right now, then we can count today as part of his suspension and he can be back at school on Friday. We will be contacting you later in the week to set up a time for the Mandatory Determination Meeting.”
I got off the phone, took a deep breath and sent a text message to my husband, “Daniel has been suspended. Please call me.”
I arranged for my husband to pick up Daniel and bring him home.
This isn’t the first time Daniel has brought a knife to school. In 5th grade, he was given a small pocket knife as part of a Christmas fishing set. One day, he forgot he had it in his pocket and took it to his elementary school. When he realized, he panicked and hid it under a portable. At the end of the day, he grabbed it and brought it home. That time, we had talked about what items are appropriate for school and how serious a mistake like that can be. I wondered what his thought process had been this time.