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Bullying discussion held behind
my back, mom says
Principal ordered 'sharing circle' to air boy's bullying habits without mother's knowledge

Mike W. Bryant Reporting
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 22/06) - The mother of a 10-year-old boy is upset after her son's teacher wrote a list of grievances and held a class discussion about his behaviour with classmates without her knowledge.

According to Mildred Hall elementary school principal Yasemin Heyck, the boy was told to leave the room before the so-called "sharing circle" began, which was held Nov. 14.

NNSL Photo/graphic

The mother drafted a list from memory containing what she says are complaints her son's classmates wrote about him. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photos

She said the school regularly conducts classroom sharing circles to allow students to air their problems - in this case their concerns about the boy's behaviour.

The boy's mother approached Yellowknifer Friday to tell her story. Her name and the name of her son have been withheld to protect the boy's identity.

The woman says she learned of the list and classroom discussion after going to the school to pick up her son's report card last Wednesday. She kept her son home that day because he had a doctor's appointment, she said.

When the mother walked into the school, she said one of her son's classmates asked her if she was his mother, and then told her their Grade 4 class had a meeting about her son because "he is a very bad boy."

The mother said the student told her that their complaints about her son were written down on a large sheet of brown paper.

When she demanded the teacher show her the list, she was brought to the principal's office, where they met with the school's vice-principal.

"I was sitting there... and I can tell they didn't want to give me the list but they had no choice," the mother said.

"It was a big, brown paper."

She said some of things written on the list included: "We don't like him, he's bad, and he likes to push. He likes to hit, he likes to spit, he swears, he steals, he pulls our hair."

The mother admits her son has behaviourial problems, which she said began to appear about a year ago. He is hyperactive and on medication, but she said his teacher shouldn't have held a sharing circle about his behaviour without her knowledge.

"I'm sure any mother would be upset about this," said the woman.

She pulled her son from school Thursday because he was afraid to go back.

After meeting with Heyck yesterday, however, it appears he will now return, although the boy's mother is still angry.

Heyck said the school has called the mother about her son's bullying problems in the past, but admitted that she didn't contact the mother when she ordered the boy's teacher to hold a sharing circle.

"I couldn't phone her right away because I don't have time," said Heyck.

"Whether that's right or wrong, that's the reality of my job."

She said the school holds sharing circles "almost on a daily basis." Heyck ordered the boy's teacher to hold the sharing circle after receiving numerous complaints from students and one parent about the boy's bullying.

"They had enough," she said.

The teacher told the boy to leave before the sharing circle began, Heyck said. After that, the teacher encouraged students to air their grievances about the boy, which she wrote down on a large piece of paper.

The boy was then allowed back into the room, where upon the class offered him some positive comments before telling him why they were upset with him, said Heyck. The boy was never shown the list, she said.

As for the boy who told the mother about the sharing circle last Wednesday, Heyck said, "He got a little bit of a strip ripped off him too because he had no right to be saying anything to her in the first place."