Awesome kid with questionable parents

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MzsB, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    Hi all, I came to this forum because I would like some anonymous advice (want to protect the privacy of a student) over something that had been weighing in me since the end of the academic year. The title says it in a nut shell, last year I had this amazing little girl in one of my classes but her parents are some of the most questionable people I know and I am struggling with what would be the right way to help without 1) over stepping and 2)causing undue prejudice towards this student.
    Here is the story. Last year I had this really intelligent little girl (13 years old, 8th grade) in my home room. She is very sweet very polite, adorably cute and very smart. She was one of my best behaved and highest achieving students. I was super shocked the first time she got in trouble and I had to speak to her.
    Part way through the school year a few teachers informed me of a rumor that this little girl was doing home work for other students in exchange for money. I didn't initially believe it because this girl was just so cooperative, intelligent and behaved. One day in the hall i saw a little boy passing her a little bit of money so I watched what they were doing. She opened up her knapsack and it was filled with candy, chips and other junk food, she proceeded to let the little boy take a bag of chips out and then closed her bag (our school did away with vending machines a couple years back so selling junkfood is a bit, just a bit, of a no no). I didn't say anything to her right away since this in and of it self wasn't a huge deal and I didn't want to make her late for her next class. I figured I could just pull her aside the next day during home room.
    So the next day at home room I asked her to come chat with me in the hall, she eagerly complied. I told her that I saw her sell chips to a student the other day and told her that students shouldn't be running under the table businesses at school. She didn't deny what she was doing, and she was really polite about it, but she defended what she was doing as free market enterprise. She said she saw that there was a demand for chips, candy and cookies so she invested her lunch money at the supermarket by purchasing bulk packages and was reselling to her classmates. She told me that she is routinely doubling and tripling her investment. Her exact words were "this is how the triangle trade we learned about in US history worked". Like I said this girl is extremely intelligent. I told her that, in any case it is against the rules for her to be doing this and that I would need to confiscate her junk food. I walked with her back into the classroom, grabbed her back pack and we went back into the hall. I asked her to empty her bag and she politely complied. As she was pulling out the candy and stuff I noticed that she had several math worksheets in her bag that she shouldn't have had. I know because she had me for math as well and these sheets are assigned by another teacher. I took them from her and saw that she had at least 6 copies of one assignment all completed with the names of 6 other students in them . This confirmed that rumor that she was selling homework assignments beyond any doubt. I asked for another teacher to watch my class and immediately took her to the AP'S office to have a conference. The weird thing was through this whole situation her demeanor was chipper, polite and cheerful despite being caught red handed in academic dishonesty. It was like she didn't see anything wrong with what she was doing (I would find out later that it was because she knew she wasn't going to be punished by mom and dad).
    Anyways when I got her to the AP'S office both the AP and I questioned her about the homework sheets and she just matter a factly told us again that she saw that there was a demand so she stepped in with a service; supply and demand. The AP told her that this isn't acceptable and that she would have no choice but to suspend her and without changing her demeanor she just said OK. By this time I was dismissed to go back to my class while the AP phoned the parents and handled her. The parents came and got her and she was out of class for 3 days. When she got back, she was the same polite little angle she was before and behaved like nothing happened. I pulled her aside to talk to her and she was not any different than before. I asked her if we could move beyond the incident and she said yes, I then asked her if her mom and dad were mad and she told me no, she then added that her dad took her out for ice cream and that her dad said the AP and I were socialists who didn't have any respect for the free market. I was taken aback but I just let it go and chalked it up to the normal disdain that some parents show towards us when we discipline their children. This little girl is far from the worst behaved so I just let it go.
    After that I watched her a bit more carefully to see if she was still up to any trouble but I saw nothing. A month or so later we had parent teacher conferences and that's when things clicked. An aside, I teach in the same district which I came up in. In fact the junior high school I teach at feeds into the high school I attended (class of 2006). Anyways, when this little girl's mom and dad walked in a light bulb went off on my head. I actually went to high school with both these people. They were high school sweethearts who were definitely an odd couple. I didn't have any classes with either of them so they didn't recognize me but I certainly recognized them. They were serious trouble makers when I was in school and both of them were constantly at odds with teachers and administrators.
    Back in school both of them were known for doing stuff like selling papers, lab reports and stuff like that. This is where my student got this from. I didn't let on that I remember either of them and just went about the conference as I would have for any other student. They seemed genuinely happy when I told them how well their daughter did in my class and how much of a delight she was to all her teachers. When I got to the topic of her suspension things got a little heated. Mom couldn't seem to understand what the big deal was and dad started to a dress me as "Chairman Mao". I told him that, he was behaving inappropriately and that he can leave if he wants to continue. That's when he told me "whatever you say Chairman Mao" and he got up and left. All mom did was laugh and snicker and told him to pick up some pizza if he was leaving. After he left I tried talking seriously to mom but she behaved just as flip and arrogant as she use to back in high school. I finished the conference and she left.
    So it is clear that my student is following in the footsteps of mom and dad. I find that very troubling. She has a whole lot of potential to do some amazing things but u am afraid that she would become just as rotten as her folks. This is where I am at a loss. I have been weighing if I should talk to some of the teachers she will have next year and possibly her guidance counselor so they know who is coming. On one hand I think that if they had their eyes on her early they can catch any behavior and nip it in the bud. It would be good for her so she will know from the beginning what is acceptable and what's not and it would be good for academic integrity since it is almost a certainty that she would engage in the same academically dishonest behaviors that she got caught for, especially since the parents seem to be encouraging it (the parents seem to encourage other dishonest behavior too). H
    On the other hand, I am afraid of prejudicing her future teachers against her. This girl really is a sweet heart and she is no where near as abrasive and confrontational as I remember her parents were back in the day. However, her parents, mom especially, read a holy terror at that school and I am afraid that this student would be treated different solely because of who mom is. What would the right thing to do here be?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My gut thought here would be to share a factual reporting of what you saw in class and the conference with the high school counselor. From there, let them decide if anything needs to be shared with teachers.
     
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  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think you need to do the right thing. You are going to have step back and not let your emotions get in the way. Pretend this student is just a regular average student. I am glad you see the good in your students. It is important to not let that get in the way of doing what is right. I think your extreme fondness might have to do with the fact that this girl is extremely charming and probably could sell a bucket of water to the water department. Work with the counselor and administration by giving them the facts...nothing more...nothing less.
     
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  5. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    So what would be the right thing in this case? The academic dishonesty had already been reported. That's part of her file so I don't need to do more on that front.
    I guess what I am asking is should I go out of my way and tip off counselors and teachers who her parents are?
    This is definitely not a reporting requirement and I do not know if this tip of is ethical or not.
    On one hand she is not her parents and this could be viewed as gossip but on the other it is already clear that her parents will and have encouraged this type of behavior so it maybe useful for the high school to have a heads up.
     
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Who her parents are doesn’t matter. Nothing else needs to be done.
     
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  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    If selling chips in school is prohibited, then you simply need to report it, along with the fact that you followed-up with the parents on such-and-such a date and they were not receptive. After that, it is not your issue.

    As a teacher, when reporting incidents, it is essential to report only facts, not impressions or judgements. So based on what you have said, (and IF selling chips is prohibited) the only report you need to make is:

    (date) Observed Suzy Blank selling chips in the hallway. Advised Suzy that this was not appropriate. Suzy indicated that she planned to continue selling chips. For this reason, on (date) I met with Suzy's parents to discuss this violation. Parents did not see an issue with Suzy selilng chips even though it is prohibited by school rules. Parents left without resolution.

    All the rest of it is your version, your feelings, your concerns -- which of course, we all have because we are human, but these have no place on an incident report.

    Fill out the incident report, forward it through the correct chain-of-command, keep a copy for yourself, and move on. You aren't the chip-police.

    Best wishes.
     
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  8. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    That part was done exactly like you describe. However selling chips was not the main issue. I caught her doing home work for other students (academic dishonesty ). That got reported to admin as well and the issue was handled by the AP with a suspension.
    What my question boils down to is I know how her parents are and I am wondering if I should tip off her high school teachers.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I wouldn't.
     
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  10. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    No. I don't think you should.
     
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  11. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    Why is selling chips against the rules?
     
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I know the parents of the majority of my students. I’m from this small town. I’ve taught here for 27 years. Very few people are ones I don’t know.

    Again, who her parents are doesn’t matter. Drop it.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    No. That is not your place. It is not helpful for the student in any way. It taints the view of the student in advance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  14. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I would hand this over to the principal and counselor. They don't seem to care what you're telling them about the rules.
     
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  15. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    Students selling anything at school is against the rules. The chips and candy were just a minor thing that if that was all it was would have just been handled by a talking to. It was in the course of the taking too that I found evidence that she was doing homework for other students in exchange for money that would be academic dishonesty which is on a whole other level than selling chips. That was reported to the school APs and she was suspended for that.
    My worry is not how to handle that particular incident. The incident being the discovery of her involvement of the academic dishonesty. That was handled during the school year by the APs. The students who paid her were dealt with too by the APs.
    The thing that is paining me is the fact that this girl is a very bright very sweet young lady who has a lot of potential to be a force of good in this world. However, she seems to be following in the footsteps if her parents who I know engaged in this type of dishonest behavior back when they were in high school (I went to the same high school as mom and dad and graduated the same year). All the students back then knew about the racket those two were running. They sold papers and reports to other students, dad was the science and math guy while mom was the English and history girl. They would sell reports for around $10 a page. The teachers mostly suspected it and all the students knew it. If you absolutely needed an A or a B you would go and buy your project from those two. There was even a minor scandal in senior year when a couple students blew the whistle but that was quietly swept under the rug when it turned up the children of a couple teachers and admins had bought from those two. This was almost 20 years ago and now the daughter seems to be following that path.
    It is extra worrisome to me that the little girl doesn't seem to even register that there is anything wrong with this behavior. She isn't a bad kid and it seems that to her this type of thing is something is perfectly normal. I am coming to this conclusion not only because of this particular incident but also due to some of the other things she had said throughout the year. I really really like this student. She was one of my best, this is why I find this so frustrating.
    I had looked up both mom and dad on linkdn and the scariest thing to me is that both of these people are highly successful. Dad is some sort of engineering manager at an oil company and mom is an attorney. And from some of the things the student had said it is very clear that both parents still engage in a lot of shady business but now they are in positions of power to really cause some harm. This is why I am so dishartened by this little girl's situation. She is very bright and very intelligent like both her parents, she is also a whole lot kinder and sweeter than I remember her parents being; so it feels like she is now at a cross roads where she is either going to turn out very good or very bad. My fear is she will turn out very bad without even knowing that she is turning bad.
     
  16. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I wouldn't say anything to anyone. Give this student a clean start with new teachers, just as teachers do every day, everywhere. Her past transgressions are in her records if anyone is interested.
     
  17. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    I think you may misunderstand. The incident it self, the academic dishonesty, was handed over to the AP and that was dealt with back in October/November of last school year. That is a closed matter. What is weighing on me is the potential for good in this student that could turn into a huge potential for bad due to the parents.
     
  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I think you're taking on too much responsibility in this. Talk to the counselor and maybe she can speak with the student about her choices going forward. Maybe the student will open up more about her family with the counselor. I understand what your'e saying about the incident BUT I personally would stay out of anything concerning her family. These do not sound like stable people. I would also be worried about this student's future the same as you are but there's nothing really I would want to take on.
     
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  19. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    The process has been followed. Don't go outside the process. Check yourself, especially since you seem to be considering going beyond the process because of the particulars of the child: "this girl is a very bright very sweet young lady", "She is very sweet very polite, adorably cute and very smart."
     
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  20. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    I've got to say you have an amazing microcosm of society in your community.
     
  21. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    I see your point. Some times this kind of stuff is just so painful to watch. This situation is definitely a new one for me. I have seen countless students follow the bad examples of parents (bullies, substance abusers, theifs, the promiscuous ). But usually in those cases the students are poor performers and are easily identified. In those cases it is relatively easy to remove those students from their peers in order to get them the help they need and prevent them from impacting their peers. However in the situation of this little girl, I think the potential for harm to others is so much greater. This girl is smart and gorgeous just like her mom, so she could possibly be very very bad not just in high school but beyond that.
    In my heart of hearts I think she is a really good person but she doesn't know any better because of mom and dad.
     
  22. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    You have no idea. Like I said this isn't the only incident that gave me cause for pause with this girl. This is the only incident that lead to a disciplinary action. Other things that I became aware of we from some of the stories she told about her home life. On particularly interesting one was something she shared on zoom.
    After our school went virtual she told the entire class about how her dad took her with him to a machine shop which his company does business with. I encourage my students to share these types of experiences because they are beneficial learning experiences. She told the entire class how the machine shop owner gave her a little tour, showed her what he was building for her daddy's company and then gave her an American girl doll (the astronaut one). She then showed the doll to the entire class. She also told the class that the machine shop owner also built a custom bumper and roof rack for her dad's jeep and that he joked that when she turns 16 her dad will bring the Jeep back and he would have it painted pink for her. She told the class that her dad always gets presents (big presents like sporting equipment, atvs, a boat) from people who want to do business with the oil company her dad works for. She then said she wants to be just like her dad when she becomes an engineer. This is the kind of thing that concerns me.
     
  23. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I understand your concern for this student to grow up to be a healthy, functioning member of society. I also understand that you will feel bad if this student chooses the wrong actions.
    But, your over interest in this family seems a little too much. It is not your responsibility to police this family's life choices.
     
  24. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    Sounds terrible. If this were the company I used to work for, I'd definitely be in trouble. But that was a publicly traded company that depended on government contracts and there were rules. Is that the case here? There's behavior that is unsavory and discomforting, and there is illegal.
     
  25. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Accept the fact that this girl is no angel, and that she is probably smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong. That being the case, she's going to be an example of the fact that most times the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Drop the subject and let this student learn about consequences (possibly) as she gets older. It won't be surprising if she follows in her parent's footsteps, but how that plays out is outside of your control. Accept that, remain professional with the student, and shift your attention to something or someone else. By the way, saying anything about her parents could actually get you in trouble - mom's a lawyer. That would really open a can of worms that your career might not survive intact. Just looking out for you . . .
     
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  26. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    It is not just my concern for the individual student. I am also concerned for other students. Like I said when I busted her for academic dishonesty she had accepted payment to do assignments for 6 other students. So that means there are 6 students out there who have cheated themselves out of part of their education. Remember, most kids at this age have not quite grasped that education is first and foremost for them and not anybody else so when an easy way out, like what this girl is providing, is presented they may not know enough to say no.
     
  27. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    I am not totally sure, according to linkdn it is a public company. It is an oil company so I don't know if government contracts are a thing. However my husband, who was just recently laid off from an oilfield service company, did say that what this guy is doing is almost certainly taking kick backs in exchange for contracts. Hubby says that it is unethical and wrong but very very very common in the oil industry.
    I don't really know much about the situation because all I know is the information that student volunteered during class.
     
  28. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    MzsB,
    Every single responder to your post has said the same thing -- drop it. You really seem over-involved in this, to the point it is concerning. Your school has procedures to deal with these two situations. Procedures were taken. Punishments were issued. Both events are over.

    You are continuing to try and justify why you need to "warn" or "tip off' her high school teachers about how "bad" her parents are, and frankly, you are overstepping your boundaries as a teacher. We cannot control what parents do or don't do. All of the previous posters (all experienced teachers) are trying to tell you that, while you continue to try and justify why you need to further involve yourself in this child's life.

    I'm assuming you have the best of intentions, but honestly, you are coming across as judgmental, not with the spirit of being helpful to this child.

    As teachers, we all want what is best for every student, but we always have to remember professional boundaries. What you are proposing crosses those boundaries. Your school has a procedure for both transgressions. Both have been implemented. Boundaries...

    Whether we agree with them or not, parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit, so long as they don't break the law or abuse the child. Please step back and listen to your posts. I don't think you realize that you are coming across as vindictive and judgmental towards the parents based on your meetings with them and their "past transgressions" when they were in high school.
     
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  29. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    You are probably right and what you suggest is most likely what I will do. However, that thing you said about learning consequences is a little bit galling especially since I know the situation with the parents. I know it's not about the parents but as an educator it is incredibly disheartening.
    Back when I was in senior year her mom and dad were involved in a small scandal when a couple students came forward with what those two were doing. The school did an investigation and it honestly looked like both of them were going to be sent to the alternative education school. Then all of sudden the matter was just dropped just like that. Rumor had it that some of the students who bought projects and college admission essays from those two were the children of faculty and that even the daughter of the director of instruction bought from them. You would think that a normal person who came so close to serious trouble (both of them had been accepted to a couple top colleges and could have lost that) would have straightened out but they didn't. Our school had a Christmas pageant and both of them entered and the number they performed was meant as a clear mockery and really a giant middle finger to everyone involved in the investigation. They did this song and dance number where they performed a mash up of "if I were a rich man" from fiddler on the roof and Gwen Staffani's "Rich Girl". It wasn't half bad actually but it was clear that they didn't learn anything and were thumbing their noses at everyone. Now almost 20 years later they are married and doing the same dishonest stuff together. So to me it seems like not only are the no consequences for this type of behavior, there are actually rewards.
     
  30. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    You said it right here don't break the law. Some of what this student described could possibly be considered criminal activity. Yes, the transgression with the homework was dealt with administratively so my only concern with that is both her and the parents see no issue with it. However what the student described on more than one occasion sounds a lot like her father is taking her along with him to collect kickbacks from vendors. This certainly is illegal if it is true.
    Really how different would this be if the student had told a story about her mom and dad selling drugs?
     
  31. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    What would be the process in that case?
    As far as difference goes, selling drugs might be endangering the child. Taking kickbacks would probably be viewed differently.
     
  32. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    Exactly why I wanted to see what some other opinions are. Drugs and guns would be a no brainer. Truth is I have never come across a situation like this. It is very likely the parents are breaking the law and providing instruction to the daughter on how to break the law. When it comes to blue collar crimes we all know what to do in a heart beat but in the case of white collar crimes of dishonesty it is hazy.
     
  33. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    Not sure if it has anything to do with the daughter at that point. If you think the dad is committing a crime based on what is being said in class, what should you do? Talk to a school district lawyer? Do you go up the chain of command, AP and P, then school district lawyer?
     
  34. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    If the parent is involved in criminal activity AND you have verifiable proof, then you report that to the police if it occurs outside of school, and through the chain-of-command if it occurs in school. If a parent is doing something that is endangering a child to the point that you are concerned for their physical welfare, then as a mandated reporter, you would contact child services (and nothing you have described here meets that level.) "Tipping off" future teachers about the this girl's parents has nothing to do with either situation. It simply comes across as judgmental, vindictive slander.
     
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  35. RainStorm

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    I have to say it. You asked a question, MzsB, asking if you should notify future teachers of a student's difficult parents. Ten respected forum members answered you saying "no, you shouldn't." Zero forum members responded that you should. Not a single one. Yet you are still vehemently defending your view as being correct, and the ten respondents as not understand the situation. If you weren't willing to consider anyone else's opinion other than your own, why on Earth did you ask for advice?

    Whether you choose to take advice or not is certainly your decision, but spending 14 long drawn-out posts trying to change the mind of 10 unanimous posters is a bit futile.

    Either take the advice or don't. But if you ask for opinions on this forum, and then discount every piece of advice you are given, you certainly lose credibility.
     
  36. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2020

    Like I said this had been weighing on me. Like other posters said, is this really my business? On one hand this kind of thing is damaging and illegal but it is also damaging to the student to inform on a parent.
     
  37. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 3, 2020

    You are speculating about what the parents may be involved in based on some random comments and on things that they may or may not have been involved in 20 years ago. Acting on speculation will likely come back to bite you and can have a serious impact on your career. Wish your student well in high school; invite her to stay in touch (if that is something you invite your other students to do) and leave it alone. Breaking rules in eighth grade does not set her on the path to a "life of crime".
     
  38. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Aug 4, 2020

    I would just give a heads up to the other teachers saying they might want to be on the look out for copied homework. But don't mention the parents!
     
  39. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Aug 4, 2020

    Since everyone's advice doesn't seem to be helping you, think of it this way. If everyone here is telling you the same thing, how do you think that will go over with your fellow teachers in your district if you insist on warning co-workers that this child has parents that did questionable things when they were in high school with you. There is a high probability that your "guidance" will not be helpful to anyone but hurtful to your credibility and judgement. They may not say it to your face (or email) but chances are they will all be thinking what we are - well except for the few that may take that information and run with it making sure they treat the student as problem even before she does anything to them or others in their classes.

    It is starting to feel that this is more about you than the student.
     
  40. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Companion

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    Aug 4, 2020

    I think this is a transition from one school to another, middle school to high school. So this is advice to go outside the school rather than giving a heads up to co-workers.
     
  41. MzsB

    MzsB Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2020

    I am just going to leave it. But still this situation burns me up as an educator. Just goes to show that the world rewards dishonesty and makes me wonder some times what's the point.
     

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