My first ever letter of complaint.

I’ll be giving one copy of this to Dave’s teacher and one to the Deputy Principal in the morning. Names have been vagued up to assuage my conscience, there are no innocents to protect. Also, I am never going along as helper parent on an excursion with this year group again….

Thursday Oct 15th 2007

To whom it may concern,

This account documents my experiences on, and subsequent to, the Year 4 excursion on Wednesday Oct 24th to the Sydney Wildlife World. I found the behaviour of M**** and M*** extremely distressing to myself and embarrassing for the school. I feel it is important that it be very clear exactly what did and didn’t happen and that the best way to do so is in writing.

When we arrived at Wildlife World it was immediately clear that M**** and M*** both resented being separated from their other friends. It was my understanding that there was good reason for that separation and I felt obliged to honour that intent by keeping them separate from the other groups. I endured a series of difficult behaviours from them including: dragging behind/running ahead of the group, hiding from me, arguing with me, squealing and making other loud noises – particularly in the nocturnal section, throwing themselves around, banging on the glass of the animal enclosures, lying down and refusing to move and trying to grab butterflies out of the air in the butterfly aviary. I was patient but firm with them. I was occasionally able to engage with them in discussion about the wildlife displays but the good moments were very brief. I found their attitude towards me, the members of the public and the animals reprehensible; they seemed to have a total lack of empathy.

At one point I attempted to break the ice with them and said I didn’t want to have to tell *David’s teacher* that they had been a “pain in the arse”. Unfortunately they were not amenable to friendly overtures and seized upon this comment as ammunition in their campaign to provoke me claiming that I’d be sued when they “dobbed me in for swearing at them”. I told them I’d be telling *David’s teacher* the truth about how things had been, which I duly did, including the risqué and perhaps ill-advised expression I had used.

*David’s teacher* requested that the boys write an apology to me, which they did once we had returned to the bus. It was delivered to me in the form of a paper aeroplane, admittedly by hand. I presume they thought better of throwing it at me in front of the teachers. I did not find the apology to be even remotely sincere and it included a blatant falsehood.

Here’s the text of that note (original attached):

“To Mrs *M*

Sorry for our behaviour but we still don’t think you should of called us A-holes
big sorry
from M**** and M***”

When David came home from school on Thursday he recounted to me what had taken place in class with *the librarian*. She told the boys that she had heard what had happened the day before and was not pleased with them. They then repeated, in front of the class, the false accusation that I had “called them A_holes”.

David was then asked by *the librarian* by his classmates* whether or not this was true. David had not been within hearing distance when the exchange characterised by the boys as me swearing at them, and which I presume inspired the lie, took place. I had not discussed with David anything about my distressing day as I believed it would have been unethical to criticise his peers to him. I now regret that decision because David’s response to *the librarian’s* question was based purely on rumours he had heard from other children, presumably originating from M**** and M**. He therefore answered in the affirmative. I found this to be extremely upsetting, as did David once he understood the truth of the matter.

I doubt it is possible to correct the false version of events now circulating among the student population. However I am very concerned that the staff and parents involved be correctly informed. I would also appreciate a genuine written apology from M**** and M**, both for their behaviour on the excursion and for the offensive nature of the note I received on the bus.


*Whatdayaknow, a 10 year old boy does not always give accurate testimony. After talking to her on Thursday morning *the librarian* is absolved of putting Dave on the spot. Still the damage was the same and I was glad to be able to make sure she knew the true story.

9 thoughts on “My first ever letter of complaint.

  1. I hope this all gets sorted for you. Its horrible when on trips with our children that others play up and spoil the experience for both their peers and the parents.

  2. It’s very distressing to see kids with so little respect for anything or anyone. I do like the fact that they took your minor “swear” word, raised you to a genuine one and then claimed the moral high ground. Maybe they are destined to be politicians. :)I hope the school backs you appropriately on this, for your sake and for the of all the kids.

  3. It’s all good, more or less. I got hugs from the librarian and Dave’s teacher this morning. I didn’t give the second letter to the deputy principal in the end, I’ll wait and see how things turn out first. I wasn’t surprised to find out that David was asked by classmates and not by the librarian whether or not it was true, but it was still in front of the whole class so the damage was the same.

  4. I would have probably called them ars3h0l35!And banged their heads together.You could have retaliated and said “we are not in America and children cannot successfully sue Adults for hearsay.” Gosh I’d have thrashed the little gits. Where is the respect?Why weren’t these kids left behind if they were going to be such pains. Trips are not a “right” they are a privelage and should be taken off those who do not respect rules!!!”Speaking from an xSchool librarian point of view. There is WAY too much worrying over children’s feelings and not enough punishment for bad behaviour.Stupid school system!I’ve got that all ahead of me. Liam’s only 16 months and I’m angry with the way his creche is too busy “respecting” the offender whilst other children, including my own are being hurt!!!PHEWSorry for the rant….***HUGS to you and your boy***YODA

  5. Megan, I assure you this was by no means a typical school excursion experience. Every teacher, including my mum ;-), who has heard this story has commented that they have never had an experience as bad as this with kids this age(it probably sounds even more dramatic when I recount it aloud lol). Not even their current teachers anticipated that they would be this horrendous. At least I certainly hope they didn’t as I’d be very much surprised to have been saddled with the boys had there been a known risk of this magnitude!Yoda, I’d love to think that they’ll miss out on the next excursion, or perhaps be banned from off-campus sport, that would indeed be justice. I’m not holding my breath though.All the staff at the school have been lovely about this, I’m there volunteering so often and know a lot of them well, so there was never much doubt about being backed up. I had a chat to Dave’s teacher after class, the letter has been passed on to the deputy AND the principal and the mother of one of the boys was on canteen duty yesterday so Dave’s teacher had a chat to her. The slightly less unpleasant child came up to me as they left class yesterday and apologised quite nicely, the other (who’s mum had been on canteen) rang me later in the afternoon. It remains to be seen whether I’ll get any written apology.

  6. Mim, I am so sorry that you had this experience. As a former teacher I am sad to inform you that this kind of stuff does occur more often than people would think.Unfortunately it can be difficult for teachers to have huge impact on the behaviour of these types of students because the behaviour is reinforced at home. Some parents simply lack the skills to effectively discipline their children. But worse than that, there are some parents who believe their own children can do no wrong and will back/defend the child no matter what the circumstance.Good on you for taking a stand. It is helpful to schools when parents put their concerns in writing. Your letter will be kept on file. If there are complaints/issues in the future (and with these kids there will be!) then your letter will be helpful in deciding consequences for the children.Glad the teachers seem to be supporting you and the school is taking the issue seriously.

  7. Lisa, I think, or know rather, that we live in a little haven of privilege here and Megan is a near neighbour. When reports come back from places where my kids’ school has been on excursions they are invariably full of praise for the good manners and excellent behaviour of the students. It would be more accurate to say this was atypical for our school, I’m quite sure teachers deal with this sort of stuff and much worse on a daily basis elsewhere.I know one of the mums of these kids quite well and I must say that made the experience all the more shocking as I know her parenting style could only think how horrified she would have been by it all. I’ll be seeing her when I pick my son up from swimming on Thursday, it’ll be interesting….

  8. Gees what little horrors they sound like…..hope all has settled down now tho….the wildlife world is awsum we were there long weekend……well done on your loss this week 🙂

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