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SKL

Sanity check - vandalism?

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I'm the mom here, so I might be biased.  Here are the facts (I even have video, though no party disputes any of it).

7th grader is carrying stuff downstairs at the end of school.  Hands are full so she uses her foot to open the door to the stairs.  (Nobody is on the other side of the door.)  The door is one of those emergency exit types where you have to push the horizontal bar in the middle of the door to open it.  Kid kicks this bar, not exactly gently but neither intending to damage it nor actually damaging it.  Teacher who reported this stated the kid was not angry, "just trying to be funny."

I would rather kid not have a paper in her file saying she "vandalized" school property.  When I think of vandalizing, I think damage to property, and I think an attitude that intends harm.

Teacher said it was "either" vandalism or hall disturbance.

I'm not disputing the school's punishments etc., just that it be called "vandalism."  Note that I have not said anything about it yet, but when I see the pink slip and how they categorized it, I might.

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I would not call that vandalism.  I don't think kicking the door was the best choice; I usually  push against that type of door with hip or arm when my hands are full.  Vandalism seems a pretty big stretch and I also would not want that in my child's file unless it was very clear there was intent to damage the door.  

Edited by marbel
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Doesn't vandalism require that there be some sort of damage to property? 

Also, if this is vandalism, I vandalize our public library on a weekly basis because I'm always using my foot to open the door. They're really heavy.

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I definitely wouldn’t call that vandalism, maybe not thinking, possibly showing disrespect to property (is there a word for that). 

I don’t understand why something like that would need to go in a permanent file. It seems like a stern look and a “hey kid, let’s not kick open the door next time,” would be plenty to address the issue. 

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Just now, Rachel said:

I definitely wouldn’t call that vandalism, maybe not thinking, possibly showing disrespect to property (is there a word for that). 

I don’t understand why something like that would need to go in a permanent file. It seems like a stern look and a “hey kid, let’s not kick open the door next time,” would be plenty to address the issue. 

To be honest, as it is something I probably would have done myself, I don't see it as that big of a deal either.  My kids said the teacher's mother-in-law died yesterday so she was in an unusually bad mood.  This teacher is usually pretty jolly.

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That she even went to the extent of sending me the security video was really strange to me.  The video shows a perky girl doing an impulsive act that hurt nobody.  I don't have a history of denying that my kid could make a poor choice.  But whatever.

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Not vandalism.

What it was was a teachable moment that was missed.  Why not say "don't kick the door.  Try going backwards and pressing the bar with your back."  Good life skill!

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2 minutes ago, SKL said:

That she even went to the extent of sending me the security video was really strange to me.  The video shows a perky girl doing an impulsive act that hurt nobody.  I don't have a history of denying that my kid could make a poor choice.  But whatever.

Impulsive seems like a good word to describe it. I don’t know that I would necessarily kick the door open, but probably would have when I was in 7th grade just being silly. 

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I don't mind them calling it hall disturbance, even though it probably didn't disturb anyone and was after school.  Fact is, my kid is no angel and she probably does disturb from time to time.

The punishment for either vandalism or hall disturbance is a detention for the first offense.  Also she has to sit out one of her volleyball matches.  I'm fine with both of these as she could use a bit of correction.  The school tends to be pretty lenient most of the time.

I can't seem to get this smiley to disappear.  I deleted what I was gonna say so now it looks stupid.   ?

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Vandalism definitely means something was damaged. If the door wasn't hurt, I think that's preposterous.

"Attempted vandalism" seems... like a stretch, but would at least make some degree of sense. If the door wasn't damaged in any way, it's just nonsense.

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I would dispute the word vandalism. It should not be in her record, nor should it be being said about her. My guess is the teacher used a wrong word. Possibly being under stress made a wrong word come out of her mouth or possibly she doesn’t understand vandalism 

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30 minutes ago, SKL said:

That she even went to the extent of sending me the security video was really strange to me.  The video shows a perky girl doing an impulsive act that hurt nobody.  I don't have a history of denying that my kid could make a poor choice.  But whatever.

 

Take it up the chain to administration. The video should prove to be in your favor. 

Poor judgement =/= vandalism. If it did, we’d ALL be vandals. 

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Can you send her a note saying that your dd did not intend to destroy property (nor did she even inadvertently destroy property ) and thus request teacher to please stop saying your dd committed vandalism. 

 

Dont say this, but keep in mind that it is slander to say something like that about your dd. A mistake of word or meaning though is forgivable so I’d try to get it across nicely. And as soon as possible. 

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I'd fight for the hall disturbance violation instead of vandalism. 

Vandalism is going to put it people's minds that she spray painted profanities on the school walls. 

Of course, I would fight against any violation of kicking a door open with hands full. I do that all the time in my house. It doesn't cause any damage. 

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Otoh if there had been someone on other side a fast opening door could have injured someone, so your dd getting a detention and learning a safer way to open door does not seem unreasonable. 

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1 minute ago, MeghanL said:

I'd fight for the hall disturbance violation instead of vandalism. 

Vandalism is going to put it people's minds that she spray painted profanities on the school walls. 

Of course, I would fight against any violation of kicking a door open with hands full. I do that all the time in my house. It doesn't cause any damage. 

 

Agree with your first 2 paragraphs 

 

however having seen seen people hit in face by kicked open doors I don’t agree with the last paragraph 

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Just now, Pen said:

Otoh if there had been someone on other side a fast opening door could have injured someone, so your dd getting a detention and learning a safer way to open door does not seem unreasonable. 

I think this can be taught without a detention. You see it and say "Oh hey (kids name), next time, I prefer that use your back to open the door." 

It seems like such an overreaction to a door being opened. 

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Vandalism, by definition, involves damage or destruction. 

I'm another one who thinks this could have been handled with a stern verbal correction and an explanation of how it could have hurt someone, but I'd probably go along with the detention if they changed the wording to hall disturbance. 

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Not vandalism.  The teacher needs to consult a dictionary. 

Also not worthy of a note in her record, unless she does it again after being told not to. 

This is a major overreaction on the part of the school.

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Definitely not vandalism.

I can see hall disturbance, though it seems a stretch.

To me it sounds like misuse of school property. 

I try to impress upon my children that rough treatment does cause wear and tear on items even if it does not immediately break them.  Also, fast, energetic, impulsive actions (in inappropriate situations) inevitably increase the risk of someone getting hurt...no, the injury would not be inflicted on purpose, so it would be an "accident", but it would be a preventable accident if it was caused by a poor, impulsive choice.

Wendy

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I also agree that it is not vandalism.

And the hive seems to be unanimous on this so far, which suggests to me that it is the teacher's opinion only, and that the majority of people would disagree with that word. I would check with the principal, if that verbiage ends up on the written report.

I think detention is too heavy a consequence for that action, but, although I might voice that to the administration, I would not share that opinion with the child. I'd talk over better choices with the daughter and chalk it up to a learning experience.

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12 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

teacher's opinion only,

 

Assuming that we got an a correct description of what happened, it isn’t “opinion”— it is that what the word means does not apply to what the child did.  

The teacher is wrong. She is describing the child as doing something that has criminal implications, which the child did not do, sfaik—assuming accurate explanations given here and accurate understanding of what happened. The usual rule on defamation is the defamed party requests the person who used the defamatory term to retract it .   I would ask for that.  And I would do so immediately rather than waiting for a report  The teacher should not be saying orally that the girl vandalized the door or might have vandalized the door.  It could color how others regard the girl for years to come  

 

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

 

Assuming that we got an a correct description of what happened, it isn’t “opinion”— it is that what the word means does not apply to what the child did.  

The teacher is wrong. She is describing the child as doing something that has criminal implications, which the child did not do, sfaik—assuming accurate explanations given here and accurate understanding of what happened. The usual rule on defamation is the defamed party requests the person who used the defamatory term to retract it .   I would ask for that.  And I would do so immediately rather than waiting for a report  The teacher should not be saying orally that the girl vandalized the door or might have vandalized the door.  It could color how others regard the girl for years to come  

 

Yes, that's actually what I meant -- that it was only the teacher's opinion that "vandalism" was the correct word. And that her word choice is wrong, because the word does not describe the actions. I mean her opinion about the word choice, not her opinion about what happened.

Edited by Storygirl
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2 hours ago, MeghanL said:

I think this can be taught without a detention. You see it and say "Oh hey (kids name), next time, I prefer that use your back to open the door." 

It seems like such an overreaction to a door being opened. 

I know I'm being picky, but saying "...I prefer..." doesn't teach anything except the teacher's preference.  If it could be dangerous to someone on the other side of the door, the teacher should just say so. A middle schooler is unlikely to pay much attention to the teacher's preference, but might to a safety issue.  

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Quite an overreaction IMHO. Maybe let dd know that at school they want people to use their hands/elbows/backs when opening doors.  ?

Edited by Liz CA
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In addition, if your DD should need to appky to a different school(is her current school a K-8 or a k-12?) or a competitive program, the word “Vandalism” could come back to haunt her. My DD’s applied to several programs that want an administrator to sign off, and ask about past disciplinary records. 

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What a huge overreaction.  No, it’s not vandalism.  They should’ve just told her to use her hip or backside next time.  Why in the world did she send you video of it?  

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Those bars on the doors are called "panic bars" or sometimes "crash bars". They are *designed* to be hit hard because if there was a fire, you want people to be able to hit the bar quickly and escape. Kicking the bar may not be the best way to open them, but it is definitely not vandalism. I would NOT allow them to put anything in my child's file calling that vandalism.

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There was no destruction, damage, or defacement. How can it be vandalism? I think your compromise is spot on- let the girl face discipline (because you agree that her choice wasn’t good). But I’d for sure ask that they not put a vandalism entry in her record. 

 

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