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AIBU: I am so annoyed by my kids' unwarranted detention?

216 replies

SueDomym · 17/03/2023 22:26

Hi people, I hope this message finds you well.
I have moved for one new year to rural France and I are taking one year of school here. They are 11+12yr old boys who have not hit puberty in any way yet. One still sleeps with a giant teddy... to say they are lovely kids - context I think, is relevant here.
My eldest was given detention on the first week of school for the 'destruction of property'. Apparently, someone had ripped some sellotape around a broken ping-pong table. So DS was given a detention. I asked my son, but he said he had done nothing. I spoke with the principal and he said that there was at least one person who had seen him doing this, a student. It was a detention and there was no more talking about it. I accepted but explained that I felt it was unfair in my son's first week of school in a place where he doesn't speak the language. I also said I believed my son.
5 months later I innocently asked two kids at the school if they knew what happened - they both told me it was the boy who did rip the selotape who blamed my kid to not get into trouble and that the principal had punished him once he found out. I had not been told this and my son was not apologised to which I felt would have been fair.

Fast forward to 2 days ago, a note was sent home with a stamped signature from the school principal. It said: Your sons were climbing a school fence and will receive one hour's detention.
So, I asked my boys about it and they said that during the long 1.5-hour break they were hanging off a grill-fence. A 'surveillante' was watching them, she said nothing and walked away.
The day after that I get an official letter with the artices of the law this punishment was under: one hour's detention for climbing on the school fence. And that the youngest son can remember to be better behaved towards his community in future. I ask my boys again, politely to see ifthey will tell the truth. They know I better with the truth than not, getting caught out for lying is worse in my opinion. Also they other boy who was with them also has his parents writing back saying they did no harm to any school equipment and would have got down had they simply been asked.
I believe my boys and want to know how to contest this decision when the boys had not been given a verbal warning first.
So, I call the school and I happen to get one of the people who watched the boys climb the wall. I asked why they didn't simply ask them to get down. She replied that there were two adults watching them. I asked if the other person had asked the boys to get down, and she replied "well they should just know". Basically, I argued with her asking why they couldn't have spoken to the boys.

She asked if I wanted to speak to her boss and I said no. I said I would like to speak to a parent-teacher representative. She told me she couldn't give out their phone numbers. She also told me if I wasn't happy with the school to take them out of this one. She finished with "I wish you a very good day" and I replied " I don't believe you.". It felt like a nasty argument.

I had some time this morning so I looked up the school rules: they have to start with a verbal warning. Detention is once parents have been spoken with.

I also spoke to two other people about this and they said that this isn't worth fighting because this is the way it is and I will not get them to back down.

I spoke with an official mediator and she said not to bother with this. If I kick up a fuss over this small punishment I will bring down the whole establishment on the boys heads - my complaints will make them suffer. Can you imagine?

Am I unreasonable in thinking that this is unfair behaviour by the school? It's a little, rural school. Everyone knows each other. I have a mobile phone. They could easily speak with me.
AIBU for expecting better communication first for such a minor offence?

Or am I just being unrealistic about the world today? (Be kind if you think so - but honest!).

I just wish I had a way of feeling less alone. I showed the letter from the school to 2 friends and they both said they have never seen a letter with a paragraph of law articles on it explaining how this detention was official. I mean.. really.

I wrote to their class teacher and the HR manager - I had no reply today.

Thanks for listening if you got this far.

Personal detail redacted by MNHQ

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Coyoacan · 18/03/2023 00:46

I do think, OP. that if you disagree so strongly with the school you are sending your childrren to, you should home school


LuluBlakey1 · 18/03/2023 00:52

Get a grip! This is really trivial. They did something wrong and were given a detention. It's nothing.


NeverApologiseNeverExplain · 18/03/2023 00:54

An hour's detention? It's not life without parole!

It's you who is getting things out of proportion, not the school.

What does the children's father think?


Jeschara · 18/03/2023 01:02

Move on, accept it has happened,and stop being so tiresome.
Why is it such a big Deal? You are making too much of it. You have already been told if you don't like what the School does to take them elsewhere. You are clearly annoying alot of people.


Kamia · 18/03/2023 01:08

You are not being unreasonable. They seem quite punitive. The fact they just blamed your child for something and did not try and understand what had happened. It may be the language is a barrier but I think I would do what the school says and find another better school. Maybe it is a cultural clash but they need to be more understanding that they just moved to the country and do not understand the rules.


chocolatemademefat · 18/03/2023 01:09

Don’t be so ridiculous. Suck it up and tell your sons to do the same. And tell them to stay off fences.


daretodenim · 18/03/2023 01:14

You do know, I assume, that French schools are, in general, more top down authoritarian than in the U.K., and that children are simply expected to behave, full stop? They don't, generally, in comparison to the U.K., look at mitigating factors of the individual child, because they're supposed to conform. I know this because I have family in France and chose not to put my kids in the French school where I live. My DH is French.

You chose to put your children in a foreign school system for a year. It's not only the language and the curriculum that's different in this different culture, but the educational culture. This school being "rural" doesn't change that.

Yes they could have been told not to hang on the fence. But they weren't. You're only there for a year, with about 16 weeks of school left. Tell your boys this is how it is in France and to follow rules. If they don't, they'll get detentions. Hopefully you'll be happier with their next school.

And leave it be. You'll never win against this system, whether you're 100% right or not. Your kids will be out of there soon so just enjoy your last weeks rather than make it a nightmare for you all.


Lesvacances · 18/03/2023 01:18

If you've been to a french school OP then you know how strict they are. They're not supposed to hit the kids but it happens and if the parents complain you get a shrug.
If your dc are OK then I'd let it go.


UpToMyElbowsInDiapers · 18/03/2023 01:21

One of the most valuable lessons I learned growing up in the French school system is that Life Is Not Fair. Thé sooner you learn to accept that, the happier you’ll be.


QueenCamilla · 18/03/2023 01:22

I climbed every fence and tree going as a kid. Never at school.

At school I remember it being banned to sit on window sills or lean against radiators. Seemed stupid at the time but now I'm all grown up and I get it.


fUNNYfACE36 · 18/03/2023 01:33

How many kids in the school? How a long would rhe fence last? If they all hang off it?


Eyerollcentral · 18/03/2023 01:52

Kamia · 18/03/2023 01:08

You are not being unreasonable. They seem quite punitive. The fact they just blamed your child for something and did not try and understand what had happened. It may be the language is a barrier but I think I would do what the school says and find another better school. Maybe it is a cultural clash but they need to be more understanding that they just moved to the country and do not understand the rules.

Ach come off it, no 11 and 12 year old children at a school think they are allowed to hang off a wire fence, there’s no language barrier involved!!! There is no culture clash, there is no school culture in the world that thinks it ok to let children hang off a fence.


Cassiehopes · 18/03/2023 01:57

I’m a teacher abroad (not France) and honestly, things are just done differently than in the UK in most countries! More traditional strictness, respect for teachers and the school (by parents and children), punishments for bad behaviour which parents support and which lead to children with excellent behaviour. My country is very strict with punishments but as a result the children are exceptionally well behaved. I think strictness can have positive effects on a child - never thought this when I lived in the UK but now I have seen what it’s like here, I sort of admire it. It works, anyway.


ZestFest · 18/03/2023 02:18

I think it was heavy-handed of the school, but pick your battles. They shouldn't have been doing it and there's a consequence. Hold them accountable and move on.


snitzelvoncrumb · 18/03/2023 02:43

It does sound a bit like they aren’t the principal’s favourites. There is no point arguing about the rules with the principal. I would look at how good you think the school is in general (not counting these incidents) and how much longer they will be there, and consider moving them. If they are moving to a new senior school soon I wouldn’t bother, but if they are already in the school they stay in until they complete high school I would think about the possibility of changing schools. You don’t want them to miss any opportunities due to not being selected in teams etc. and this sort of thing does happen. If the school has been great outside these incidents, I would just let it go.


JMSA · 18/03/2023 02:46

I wish Britain would go down this route! I work in a high school and it's unbelievable what goes on.


SammyScrounge · 18/03/2023 02:48

SueDomym · 17/03/2023 22:57

Maybe I am just not seeing hanging onto a fence as a terrible and obviously punishable offence. I had genuinely never considered that. I mean have you never hung on a fence before as a kid? I mean that as an actual question...if you would be so kind as to reply.

I bet if one of your boys.fell off the fence and.broke his arm you'd be banging on the head teacher's door complaining about sloppy staff who didn't supervise children properly, lack of adequate discipline measures, failure to provide sufficient medical care etc etc
The most effective way to deal with this is to tell your boy to stay off the wall.


Marchitectmummy · 18/03/2023 03:11

Your kids surely know not to climb on things don't they, surely they dont need someone to tell them that? My children are younger but they certainly do.

I think your reaction to a detention is OTT, you sound very delusional about your children's behaviour.


Mummyoflittledragon · 18/03/2023 04:03

You know the school is far more strict than your dcs are used to. Just let it go. It’s only an hour’s detention. The only other option is to return home early. My dh is French and that would be his take. In the UK, children are given detentions all the time. For being late by only a few seconds, girls for rolling their skirts up, for forgetting your PE kit etc.


JennyJenny8675309 · 18/03/2023 04:22

I think you need to suck it up and realise that you’re not running the school. You send your kids there and they make the rules.


Glitteratitar · 18/03/2023 04:25

Agree, it is odd the teacher walked away without saying anything, but they should have still got the attention.

What difference does it make that the teacher didn’t say anything? If your children were attacking other children, do you think the teacher telling them to stop would have excused the punishment? Of course not. At that age they should know what is right and wrong and they have been dealt with accordingly.


Emanresu9 · 18/03/2023 04:25

God I wish uk schools still had this level of discipline.


PeanutButterCheesecake · 18/03/2023 04:59

Teachers are busy enough without having idiots ringing up AND writing to them every ten minutes to argue with them and undermine their decisions.

You need to accept that your pwecious ickle hunny bunny aaaaaangels are capable of misbehaving, the same as any other child.

im not surprised they haven’t written back yet. The harder work the parent is, the longer it takes to put together a response.


aloris · 18/03/2023 04:59

The thing with the fence may be reasonable but coming on the heels of your child having received detention for something he didn't do, in his first week at a new school, and the principal then failing to disclose that he knew the other child lied and that your child didn't do it, it starts to feel like, not only are they incredibly unkind and unwelcoming people, but they are also picking on your children.

I think it's interesting the mediator said that raising this issue with the principal will result in bringing down the whole establishment on your children's heads. A principal who reacts like that to a parent addressing a small behavior problem (in which the principal was partially at fault) is a vindictive person. Maybe you are now in a culture where people in power are allowed to be vindictive and it's accepted. Or maybe the mediator just knows this particular principal. I don't know. You should probably follow the mediator's advice as they know the culture. But you don't have to like it or convince yourself it's reasonable.


LiquoriceAllsorts2 · 18/03/2023 05:21

SueDomym · 17/03/2023 22:57

Maybe I am just not seeing hanging onto a fence as a terrible and obviously punishable offence. I had genuinely never considered that. I mean have you never hung on a fence before as a kid? I mean that as an actual question...if you would be so kind as to reply.

Hanging on a fence at school is not acceptable behaviour and I would expect your children to know that. I agree they should have been asked to get down first but you need to stop thinking that they have done nothing wrong, they have.

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