Not in That Illusion

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Home and neighborhood environments like those for Dick, Jane, Sally, Mother, Father, their dog Spot, and their kitten Puff did not exist in every home during their era nor did they in the early 2000s. The Dick and Jane stories with idealistic settings for the characters were used to teach reading from the early 1930s through to the 1970s. I remember them well, but also remember my home was not like theirs. One could also consider the how life looked in Leave It to Beaver episodes.

I was a frequent administrative substitute at an elementary school with a measurable transient population of multiple ethnicities. And I often used what I had learned after suspending the homeless boy at a different school (“Suspend the Homeless” Jan 9, 2021).

In a scenario similar to my previous post, I had to suspend two students for fighting. Follow-up on the previous incident led to my getting full access to computer posted student records, so I knew their family circumstances. Well, so it seemed.

The least frequent offender lived with a foster family and was picked up within minutes of my call. A little later, the non-custodial father came to pick him up, but I wasn’t authorized to tell him where the boy went. He seemed to understand my following the rules. Then the mother, also non-custodial, called, for information about the boy’s whereabouts. She was not so understanding or civil in her remarks. I have no idea how the non-custodials found out.

After several tries, I was able to contact the more frequent offender’s mother. Her English was broken. She put the boy’s teenage sister on the phone to talk with me. I could hear both sides of the conversation as the sister explained the situation to their mother. Then the sister excused herself saying, “Someone is at the door.”

I heard a male voice in the background, but not what was being said. Then there was a shout, “One ‘ethnic’ going out the back window!” Crashing and rustling sounds followed the shout.

Sister came back on the phone, “Sorry lotsa stuff happening. We’ll come and get him.”

A shabbily dressed woman and trendily dressed teen came into the school about an hour later. She and the woman talked to the secretary. The woman spoke in language and the girl used educated vocabulary in flawlessly pronounced English as I came out of the principal’s office space. Sister apologized and explained they had to walk because her stepfather took the car.

I’m sure she didn’t know I’d heard what was going on in the background when she had put her phone down to answer their door. I said nothing about it. Mother signed the student sign-out sheet with instructions from Sister.

I gave them the suspension documents and explained when the boy could return to school. They left, but as I was returning to the office, I heard Sister say to the secretary, “Oh, we’ll be moving, so Mother needs to sign him out of school, and she’ll have his new school send for his transcripts.”

A few days later there was a daytime criminal incident in the suspended boy’s neighborhood. Local TV was there after the fact and the reporter interviewed the suspended boy who allegedly saw everything.

The boys certainly didn’t live in a Dick and Jane or Beaver Cleaver illusional household and neighborhood.