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Disagreement with school

(29 Posts)
dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 15:15:57

I'd really appreciate some advice as it all seems rather complicated at the moment.

My 2 children in year 6 have been accused by the school of being in a Skype group that was making phonecalls to a parent asking them why they are bulling children. This all happened after a parents number turned up on some child's imessenger chat and that child passed it on to other kids claiming he was being bullied (there is apparently no evidence of bullying). The other kids set up a Skype group and phoned this number from their mobiles with the others listening in via the Skype group.

When I received the phone call from the head I couldn't work out how this had happened as we keep a close eye on the girls Skype accounts and the evening this had happened they had only been on Skype briefly. Another parent who's child was in the group had checked it and told me my children were not in the group. My girls chat with these kids in another Skype group and were told about one of the phonecalls that had been made the night before the school found out (in person not on skype). My girls had told their dad about it, he had asked them not to get involved but to give him the phone number so he could sort it out (maybe not the best response in hindsight). She asked the kids for the number but they all denied having it. I wish my husband and had told me about it at the time so I could have alerted their parents.

It turns out I know the parent who was receiving these phonecalls. Until recently has been a close friend of mine. I had distanced myself from her recently as she seemed to become quite obsessive about her daughter being ignored by other children on Skype. I had tried to be supportive because I felt bad that her daughter was going through a bad time but in the end it felt like she was being unreasonable eg. Constantly asking why my daughters weren't on Skype, was there another group made to exclude her child (there wasnt).

A week ago she sent me a message saying that my children were not welcome round her house anymore unless things improve in their friendship with her daughter. Now it seems that she has given my children's names to the school as being part of this Skype group. It seems too much of a coincidence. I'm wondering if it's some kind of revenge thing or whether the school have just got it wrong.

I have sent the school a long letter explaining that my children were not part of this Skype group. But I feel quite cross that my girls were given the same punishment as the children who made the phonecalls. They were reduced to tears by the head, had phonecalls home and forced to write apology notes and made to sit in the dining room at school in silence so all the other staff knew they were in trouble. The child who started the rumour and gave out the phone number was not punished at all.

The school have not yet responded to my letter and I am planning on going in to speak to the head on Monday. I feel really angry about the whole situation as my girls did the right thing speaking to their dad and not getting involved in these phonecalls. I'm just no good in dealing with these situations and would be grateful for any words of advice.

Kennington Sat 04-Mar-17 15:25:18

It looks like a mistake but I would keep them off Skype and any other social media if they are only in year 6.
Perhaps wait for it to blow over then speak to the school. They may have been tainted by a bad crowd and it will take time to pass.

SofiaAmes Sat 04-Mar-17 15:32:16

Why is the school getting involved in activities that take place outside of school time and premises?
I would ask the school to show you their policies on social media and disciplining students. I can't imagine that the school has followed any sort of policy if the "crime and punishment" took place as you describe.
I don't agree with completely keeping kids off social media because then they never learn any skills for when they are older. However, I would make sure that they are supervised and that conversations take place frequently and that you have all passwords to everything. When my dd was that age, I was logged into her Instagram (social media of choice with her friends) so could see what was happening in real time.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 15:37:42

Thanks Kennington. They don't have access to any social media apart from Skype, which we monitor closely, they also don't have mobile phones. I don't want to punish them anymore as I think they've been punished enough so wasn't planning to take Skype away, they have only been allowed to use it for 3 months. But I do kind of understand what you mean about keeping a low profile. I feel cross that they have been accused of something they haven't done but I know it isn't good to go in to school all guns blazing.

ScarlettFreestone Sat 04-Mar-17 15:39:31

The school forced them to write apology. It's for something they didn't do?

I'd be asking for an immediate appointment with the head.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 15:48:46

Thanks SofiaAmes. The school are dealing with it because the parent who received the phonecalls went in quite upset saying she hasn't slept for 2 nights because a child has rung her accusing her of bullying someone. She is always in the school at the moment talking with teachers, they seem to quite like her. We keep a record of passwords and I go through their tablets while they're in bed, we encourage them to sit downstairs when chatting to friends so that we can hear what's going on. I will look up the policy, I hadn't thought about that, thanks.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 15:54:37

Yes scarlet they did. One of my daughters wrote that she wasn't involved in the apology letter.

ScarlettFreestone Sat 04-Mar-17 15:58:48

Good for her! I'd be going to see the head and very clearly making my case:

You have check your records, your girls were not involved.

The school should be informing the other parent that following investigation your girls were clearly not involved.

I also think they should be receiving an apology from the teacher involved (though I wouldn't hold my breath)

AlexanderHamilton Sat 04-Mar-17 16:00:04

Unless the children in the group were being abusive in their Skype call I can't even see that they were doing anything wrong, never mind your children.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 16:15:23

I sent a letter with all the evidence showing my children weren't involved on Thursday night. My plan is to go in Monday and speak to the head who dealt with it.

The head claims she is dealing with it from an "esafety point of view" as she claims that all the children exposed their details to a random phone number who could have been a stranger. The only information that the call receiver would receive though is a phone number that she doesn't recognise.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 16:19:17

I guess it's abusive as the parent claims she was harassed and didn't sleep for 2 nights. She somehow worked out who was calling her though so I doubt she felt that threatened by some 11year old friends of her daughters.

ScarlettFreestone Sat 04-Mar-17 16:22:21

Oh I agree with the school that the children involved were at fault. I can see why the other parent is annoyed.

I disagree with forcing children to admit their guilt when they are insisting on their innocence, particularly on a case where the evidence was available at home.

The school should have asked parents to check and established guilt that way.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 04-Mar-17 16:23:44

How was a grown adult harassed & unable to sleep because a child called her & asked why she was bullying another child?

It could be of course that the child was threatening in their language, or made repeated calls or during unsociable hours which would be unacceptable but otherwise...

VintagePerfumista Sat 04-Mar-17 16:24:43

Why does the school think your children are involved if you have proof that they aren't?

It sounds very muddled by the school, and you are quite right to go in and clarify it.

You shouldn't presume the other parent didn't feel harassment though. I'm sure most adults would feel fairly threatened if a group of kids rang them and started accusing them of bullying other kids. I would.

The children involved in the harassment are quite lucky the parent took it to the school and not the police really as they might well have done.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 04-Mar-17 16:26:04

OP, can you just clarify, the way I read it was that one child called using a mobile but the others listened in via Skype using a computer or tablet?

lougle Sat 04-Mar-17 16:29:24

I think the school have acted outside of their scope if the incidents took place out of school hours, really. They should have, at the most, spoken to the parents of the children involved and agreed a course of action. They shouldn't have punished the children without first establishing facts and talking to the parents.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 04-Mar-17 16:33:38

I don't quite agree there lougle, my then 11 year old daughter was sent a series of anonymous abusive texts from children at her former school (year 5 & year 7) & the school intervened & punished those involved but they had a clear cyber bullying policy they followed & it was properly investigated to establish who was involved.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 16:34:06

Vintage that is true, I also don't know all the details of the phonecalls but I think they only spoke on one, I think there were others that she didn't answer. The kid who made the call she has known all his life, if it were me I would have just told him to stop there and then or I would go to school/police. But you're right I don't know how it would feel if it was me.

The school were given a list of names by the parent who went in which is why they think my girls were involved. I was only notified after the head had told them off and made them write letters of apology. I wish she had taken it to the police, I think they would have investigated better than the school.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 16:35:06

Alexanderhamilton yes that's right.

VintagePerfumista Sat 04-Mar-17 16:38:33

Just noticed the bit about the woman saying the OP's children weren't welcome anymore at her house because of how they were treating her daughter.

And then she includes them in her skype list this week.

I think there are 2 different things going on here that maybe the school are aware of- obviously the calling the adult and making accusations. But it seems her daughter may also be being bullied by the same children who are accusing the mother of bullying one/some of them.

I think you are going to find there may be more to this tale than meets the eye OP, whether or not your children are involved. Hopefully you are right, and they aren't, because it looks like the other children are harassing the mother, and bullying the daughter at the same time.

VintagePerfumista Sat 04-Mar-17 16:39:31

X posted.

Hope you get it sorted and your children's names cleared. Sounds a bit awful all round.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 16:55:54

Thanks Vintage. Her daughter was my daughters best friend until last year. But unfortunately they have drifted apart a little although have remained friends and there has been no fall out. Her daughter has struggled a bit with that I think, I don't know of any bullying as such she's quite a popular girl but there maybe some that her mother hasn't told me about. I distanced myself from her mother recently because I felt under a lot of pressure from her to make my daughter want to be that best friend again which of course I can't.

dreamylea Sat 04-Mar-17 17:25:28

Just to clarify that the text message about them not being welcome was more because of my response to her constantly texting asking me why my daughter hadn't replied to her daughters Skype messages. She replied to a few when she was on Skype but isn't on as much as she was.

cansu Mon 06-Mar-17 08:40:22

How sure are you that your daughters were not involved? Were you physically in the room all the time they had access to Skype? If you weren't then you are relyong on your kids say so. They would know they were in deep trouble and are v likely to deny involvement. However if you are sure then you may have cause to complain. Bear in mind though that the school may well decide to distance themselves from these kinds of problems in the future. Lrts imagine uour child had been gradually phased out and you were the victim of this harrassment. Would you want the school to say this is your problem you sort it out? It is too time consuming and difficult to work it out.

dreamylea Mon 06-Mar-17 17:00:45

I'm as certain as I can be that my daughters were not involved. They found out about the whole thing on Wednesday night (my husband was present). From that point there was a window of approx 1 hour when they were at home and on a tablet as they had clubs on. During that time that they were on the tablets one of my girls showed me a conversation on Skype where another child had made an inappropriate joke and she called them out on it, she wanted to check with me shed said the right thing, she also told them shed spoken to her dad about the phone number they had called and he wanted it from whoever had it. They were not members of the Skype group that was involved in the group, a parent who's child was in the group has confirmed with me they weren't in it. I check their Skype and tablet content most days.

One of my girls has had problems with bullying and relational aggression from her peers since year 3, she is now in year 6 and seems to be much happier this year which is a big relief. I haven't forgotten what we went through which is why I was initially very supportive of this mum and her worries about her daughter. Her daughter was best friends with my other twin (the one who wasn't bullied) , they are still friends but my daughter has made other friends, this girl didn't like it and my daughter felt smothered by her wanting an exclusive friendship.

I have tried my best to encourage my daughter to speak to this girl at school if she is on her own and talk to her on Skype (which she was doing) but it never seemed like she could do enough. I get it must be really hard for this girl, she has done everything with my daughter since they were tiny, I do feel a bit sad that my daughter seems to have grown out of this friendship. The girl is lovely she has lots of friends, but at the moment she hasn't got the friendship she wants with my daughter. I asked the school today if there has been any bullying and they are not aware of any that involves my children.

Anyway, I've spoken to the head today, it was a weird conversation as I don't think she fully understands the working of Skype and she did admit she had probably overreacted. She told me that as this parent (who could have been a stranger) was able to see posts on Skype from my children it means that strangers could see their details. I told her that this parent could only see what the kids were writing because she was logged in with her own daughters account. Eventually she seemed to accept what I was saying and then said that when she was telling all the children off my children didn't speak up and deny their involvement. My girls said that they were not allowed to speak and I told her that they were too scared to speak up at the time as we're worried they'd be in trouble for answering back. However she said she did accept that my children had played no part in the actual phonecalls. She finally said that she was worried because some of these kids involved had potentially put themselves at risk and my children hadnt reported it. I kind of accepted that but as my husband was aware of it he should have taken the blame for not reporting it to the school as my children felt a responsible adult was aware. She was definitely clutching at straws, the conversation ended as a stalemate.

I still feel cross that they were made to write letters of apology. It seems that the crime my daughters committed was not to tell a teacher that this stuff was going on even though their first opportunity to do this would have been after it was reported to the school. I've no idea whether we are going to take our complaint to the governors or leave it now we have put our point across to the head.

Thank you everyone for all your comments and advice. The ones that mentioned bullying made me think as I would hate to think either of my children were bullying anyone whether intentional or not. I have also raised this with the school and asked them to let me know if they have any concerns.

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