Advice for my partner re his rights with daughter's school

(22 Posts)
MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 12:39:24

Hi ladies, I'd like to pick your collective brains and I know some of you are knowledgeable about this area.

So DH hasn't seem his DD for 8 weeks following alienation which started to show in December last year (I won't bore those of you who know with the backstory but happy to answer questions from others!) He has had no contact with the school in this time but keeps up to date with school news via an app which is helpful. There haven't been any parent's evenings or anything. I thought it was a good idea for him to tell the school what had happened but he was reluctant. There is a lot of shame for him associtated with his dd not wanting to see him. I think so anyway. And it took him a long time to really accept that it had happened so hard for him to actually tell the school. Even now Iover hear him telling people the story of what happened and a lot of it doesn't really ring true for me.

Anyway, yesterday he had a call from one of DSD's teachers (DSD is 13) saying that he was so sorry for contacting DH but didnt have the mother's phone number at home and the matter needed dealing with there and then. He said he understands that DSD isn't living with Dad any more and that they are to contact Mum, but he had no choice as the matter was urgent.

Turns out he was on the train home (fairly late but not too late) from the school and DSD and her friend were being rude and inappropriate and their behaviour had made him feel uncomfortable and worried for her safety. He asked if DH could speak with DSD asap. DH tried DSD but couldn't get through. He tried the teacher but his phone was off so he emailed him asking to speak asap.

I suggested getting the whole story from the teacher before trying DSD again. To be honest, the behaviour doesn't surprise me - although obviously i don't know exactly what it involved. She has said that she feels sad and lonely at the moment as her Mum has mentioned what a strain it is now that she's there all the time and she gets no one-one time with her partner or their new baby (careful what you wish for, hey?) and DSD isn't the best behaved child anyway. I am fearful for what she might be getting in to with no parental supervision. She gets the train home every day after school, usually long after school has finished and she has been in to town with friends. Mum is on maternity leave so I have no idea why this happens, not every day anyway. But this is not in my control so I detach as much as possible.

But I digress... My question is: what rights does DH have? It would seem that the school has been told not to contact him (without his permission!) and of course he wants to be contacted - if it weren't for this teacher not having Mum's number at home, DH would never know about the train incident. He has had meetings with the teacher in question before who seems to be a really good guy so I even wonder if he has deliberately contacted DH over Mum as he is concerned at where her behaviour is heading.

I guess I'm waffling a bit. Sorry. Thnaks all!

Cloverhoney Tue 23-Oct-12 13:12:54

If DH has PR and there is no residency order in place, he has exactly the same rights (I prefer the word responsibilities) as BM.

He should make it clear to the school that he does want to be contacted regarding everything that affects his DD. My DH also sent the school a pile of SAE's in different sizes and asked for copies of anything sent home to be sent to him. If he has PR, the school has no reason to deny him this regardless of what BM says.

MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 13:14:27

Yes - I prefer responsibilities as well grin

So the school has to do that no matter what Mum says?

MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 13:14:50

Sorry, yes he has PR - they were married and he's on birth certficate.

NatashaBee Tue 23-Oct-12 13:22:29

Yes, if he has PR then he is entitled to speak with the school regarding his daughter and receive copies of everything that gets sent home. I'm shocked that the school would just accept the mother's request that they not contact him. I would be writing an extremely strongly worded letter explaining what parental responsibility means, enclosing a copy of the birth certificate, and asking to meet with the school for a general discussion about DSD.

MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 13:35:50

I was suprised they hadnt checked it out with him. Will brief him tonight on what he needs to do. Whther he'll do it or not will remain to be seen - he's a bit lethargic (possibly depressed?) over it all at the moment. This is just another kick in the teeth.

Had this have happened to me, I would have been down the school way backin May to make sure they knew my side of the story but DH is a bit of an "act later" person where as I am the opposite.

Thanks so much.

purpleroses Tue 23-Oct-12 14:57:15

He has rights to be kept informed, contact school to discuss DD, etc.

But if what the school are looking for is a parent to help them sort out his DD's behaviour, I'm not sure your DH - however willing - is very well placed to do it right now as he's having such little contact with her. The school's role is to keep the parents informed so that they can help the child, not to report things to the parent who's not in touch with their child, that are not directly related to their school work.

The school have a duty to keep both parents informed in a formal manner (eg sending out reports, etc) but not necessarily for every single incidence when they might want to contact a parent. It's not quite clear from what you say happened that the school have actually been told never to contact your DH, possibly just that they're aware that DD lives with her mum so the mum would be the first person to contact. TBH, what is your DH supposed to have done, as his DD's hardly speaking to him? She's hardly going to listen to him ringing her up on the train and telling her to behave confused

NotaDisneyMum Tue 23-Oct-12 15:34:51

The school would be very foolish to follow the instruction of a RP and exclude a NRP from communications - but perhaps your DP should spell it out to them in writing.

However - in this case, I think the teacher was acting independently of the school, which is a very grey area; if the school had put some form of support of action in place as a result of what the teacher saw, then it is reasonable for your DP to be informed about it, but otherwise, I'm not sure the teacher was in the right, tbh!

But, your DP could call social services for advice about his concerns - would he be prepared to do that? If there are a number of issues, they might be prepared to raise a CAF at school which your DP would be an integral part of.

MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 17:59:05

I get what youre saying purple. But it wasn't the situation itself that was the concern - it was the fact that the teacher said that he was sorry for contacting him when he know sthat he should be contacting mum now that DSD doesn't live here. It made me wonder what else is going on that he isn't being told about becaus ethey are now not allowed to contact him...

He said himself that he wouldn't have been able to do anything about her behaviour. He finds that very sad but accepts it. But if it is a wider behavioural problem, or something serious he needs to know about it IMO so he can be assured that it's being dealt with. If her mother isn't sorting her out - or attempting to. Then it is surely an issue for social services?!

MsMadelineashton Tue 23-Oct-12 18:01:52

Sorry I only read PR post NADM. Yes, that might be an option.

Because of the recent info that we have about DSD being (by my reckoning) neglected, I worry that her behavior is going downhill in general. Maybe Mum is trying to sort her out. I know teenagers are hard to parent, and she does have a new baby etc. But DH needs to know if there is a behavioral issue at school.

Cloverhoney Tue 23-Oct-12 20:44:07
MsMadelineashton Wed 24-Oct-12 18:41:53

Thanks Clover, that's really kind.

Update - he spoke to the teacher who confirmed that they have been told not to contact Dad. He said that they were to contact him and they said fine. Turns out the the misdemeanour on the train was that DSD had literally jumped the teacher (with her friend), sat close next to him and took photos of him whilst making suggestive comments and talking loudly about that girl who ran away with her maths teacher that was in the news recently. Anyway, she's been excluded from school just for today and he was invited (along with her mother) to the reintroducing meeting at the school with DSD, the teacher in question, and the head, tomorrow.

I assumed he would go and he said "oh I've said I can't as I'm at work. Her mother will go"

I.was.gobsmacked. I'm afraid I lost it a little. I asked him what on earth could be more important at work than seizing this opportunity to parent her. He said that only one parent needed to go (wtAf?!) and that he didn’t see the point in going when he is being denied the right and opportunity to parent DSD. I pointed out that in this particular circumstance he wasn’t and in fact had been invited and I felt very strongly that he HAD to go along else it sends the direct message to DSD and the school and her mother, that he isn't interested.

He was angry at me and went silent. But an hour or so later he said that I was right and he would go. He said it kind of reluctantly... but the point is - he's going. I am astounded that he wasn't going to. But there you are. What can I say?

I said that serious bad behaviour like that was a sign of something worse underlying and possibly even a cry for help. I know I'm soft but imagining DSD not having that cry answered by her Dad, and instead having to contend with her incompetent mother's reaction to the problem made me so sad. As I said to him, I wanted to be there!

So, he's going. And I actually think it’s a good thing that this has happened. Hopefully it will throw the spotlight on DSD and the situation that she’s in.

theredhen Wed 24-Oct-12 19:30:29

Seems your dp doesn't really know his place in his daughters life at all. sad

Well at least he is now going and he can be part of it even if it is an uncomfortable situation.

I'd feel the same as you. I've had the situation where he wouldn't even go to parents evening unless it was with the child and therefore he gained "extra" contact. I pointed out that the important thing was to attend. sad

NotaDisneyMum Wed 24-Oct-12 19:44:15

Oh, MsMad (scuse the shortening of your screen name - it seemed appropriate)

I remember a couple of WTAF moments with my DP when he was first getting his head around his parenting role - it's like there's new connections that need to be made in their brains before they can actually think like a parent!

Is he going to the meeting because he wants you to, or does he actually realise what his role is in this? I've got huge amounts of baggage regarding being appeased - my ex did it all the time and it created resentment both sides - so when this happens in our house, I then find myself playing devils advocate and pushing DP to justify his change of mind blush

As for your DSD, this could be a very significant moment in her life - and her future path in life could be strongly influenced by the significance and severity her parents place on her current behaviour. Your DP has a key role to play and its going to be hard for him. My DP has had a lot of help from the Family Lives helpline over the last few years - any chance you could convince your DP to contact them?

familylives.org.uk/how-we-can-help/confidential-help-line

NotaDisneyMum Wed 24-Oct-12 20:08:23

Sorry - because you want him to, of course!

MsMadelineashton Wed 24-Oct-12 20:11:29

It is appropriate grin

I beleive he genuinely heard what I said and changed his mind. Is wasn;t like "urgh, I'll go then if you insist!" it was "I think you're right, and I'll go"

We just spoke about it and I asked how he is feeling about it. He squirmed a bit and I said "are you nervous" he said "I'm not looking forward to seeing her" as in his ex. He actually looked scared. I think she really emotionally abused him when they were married sad He was definitely an enabling partner (to her narciness) and I think he feels shitty and guilty for that.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 24-Oct-12 20:36:11

Sounds very familiar sad Does he want to feel like that about her forever? Or, does he want to do something about it, so that he can enter parenting situations alongside her with confidence?

DP was comfortable playing the poor abused ex-spouse role for a while - but then realised that it inhibited his ability to parent sad

He had some fabulous counselling through the EAP at work - it totally changed his thought process and ability to deal with his ex.
Just a thought smile

purpleroses Wed 24-Oct-12 20:41:55

I think some men can be a bit dense when they're asked a question and take it on face value - the school probably said "do you want to be there?" to which he shuddered and thought "No!"

But what they should have said, which is what you've said to him, is "would it be best for you to be there?" which is a very different thing.

MsMadelineashton Thu 25-Oct-12 22:44:14

Update: He went to the meeting. Head asked what punishment had happened at home - mum drew a blank. Head asked why DSD was on a train at past 7pm, in the dark, on a schoolnight without an adult... mum drew a blank.

Mum's only input was to say that it was probably the teacher's fault that DSD had behaved how she did as he apparently encourages the behavior. The head said "fine, we don't tolerate teachers seducing teenage girls and if you have a complaint of that nature we will take it very seriously and will take every route to protect your daughter and the other children at the school".

DDSd's mum backtracked and admitted that DSD was at fault. The school have required that DSD goes immediately home (to either home) after school to keep her out of trouble. I kind of hope (for DH's sake) that means that she comes here- as she feels like a burden at Mum's at the moment apparently - But what can i do? so sad really.

If she was my daughter I'd be questioning why she felt the need to behave like that with a male teacher...

The teacher did seem shocked that this was DSD involved as she is usually "such a good girl" so a good indicator that things haven't gone too wrong for DSD... yet.

MsMadelineashton Thu 25-Oct-12 22:50:40

I try so hard not to project.. or take things personally. But I cant help but think of the time when DSD's Mum said to me (a full time single working mum since DD was 3 months old following my ex's affair) that "Some Mums seem to be able to dump their kids with strangers while they persue a career, personally I couldn't ever do that to my child but I respect you to be able to get over it" then leave their 13 year old hanging out for 4+ hours after school every day in town with god knows who, leaving them to get the train home and feeling the need to attention seek from an adult male teacher by jumping him and making inapproriate comments to him, eventually getting excluded for it...

NotaDisneyMum Thu 25-Oct-12 23:08:13

I'm sorry that things are deteriorating for your DSD but pleased your DP managed to go along - hopefully this will be a chance to take on a parenting role in her life again?

MsMadelineashton Thu 25-Oct-12 23:11:30

I hope so. He thanked me for pulling him up on not going. And said he had been "childish and stropy" in not wanting to go initially.

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