I have a son in high school who was physically assaulted by a fellow student yesterday, and the response from the school has been bizarre, to say the least. Because the principal cited a federal law as the reason for her failure to act, I'm hoping someone here might be able to explain this to me, and give me some suggestions about what I should do next.
My son was attacked by another boy after trying to diffuse the situation and retreating, only to be forced to hit back to defend himself when he had no other choice (the kid chased him and there were witnesses). Both the vice principal and the principal refused to provide details, including the name of the perpetrator or what would be done to resolve the situation, citing privacy reasons. Privacy of a bully? In fact, they didn't plan to discuss the matter with us at all. My husband was called by the vice principal and told to pick up our son outside the school - where he was left with no supervision or concern for his safety after being attacked. When his dad went inside and insisted upon some kind of explanation the VP refused to give any, stating "school policy" as the reason.
When I contacted the principal via email, she backed up the VP's actions, with no further explanation about the incident except to say, "The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits school personnel from disclosing student information from student education records without the consent of the parent. This includes school discipline records." She then ignored my requests to call me to discuss the matter by phone (am I wrong for thinking a physical assault warrants a same day call back?). Note that when I left the phone message requesting the return call, the principal's secretary refused to pass on the message unless I would divulge every detail about why I was calling. I guess privacy only works one way!
Are you kidding me? Someone can hit my kid on school grounds and I don't have a right to know who it was, or what happened? I guess I'm probably going to have to file a police report to learn the facts, and my son is begging me not to because he just wants it to be over. He doesn't want more problems with people he has to see every day.
This is absurd! I can't believe the intent of this law was to protect bullies and prevent the parents of the victim of an assault from finding out the details. Of course my son told us his side of the story, but are we not entitled to know the "official version" and the results of any investigation?
What would be the best way to handle this going forward?