I’ve been trying to work out how to write this post. There is a lot of back story that is needed to understand fully… so do I just leave it as what happened now or try and tell you everything that went before as well? I think I will need to include the back story…
Ever since Chatterbox started school last year we have talked to them about securing the grounds to stop her getting out. We used to be able to say that she had never run away from home but now we can’t (see Fort Knox for that story!). The school has said that she hasn’t shown any interest in leaving however I have always maintained that once she didn’t want to be at school she wouldn’t think anything of taking herself for a walk. The school does have a big fence around it. It has three gates out the front – one of which has a pool gate style lock. The other two gates have big pins that go down into the ground and one across the middle.
When Chatterbox was enrolled at school we made sure they knew about her history of running. For the first two terms of last year we had to pick her up early every day as they tried to ‘ease her in’ to school – it was more a ‘we can’t cope with her’ strategy by the end and we were ready to refuse to pick her up early when the school decided to let her stay full days. During this time Chatterbox got to see how the gates opened everyday – how to life the pins – and started doing it herself. A number of times last year I let her teacher, the office and the principal know that she was able to open the gates up if they weren’t closed properly and that they needed to close the middle pin (which they weren’t doing regularly). Once I even went back in after picking Chatterbox up to tell the office that the gates were wide open (as I know there are other ‘runners’ at the school) and they said “Yes. That’s because some of the kids and teachers are out at the swimming carnival”! Apparently Chatterbox can open the gates but the teachers can’t??
So… back to today. Went to pick up Chatterbox from school and when the kids were let out her teacher came out and asked to talk to me. I left Grumpy outside with Chatterbox and went in to chat. The teacher said that they had an incident on Friday when they had a relief teacher. After recess Chatterbox had refused to get back into lines and was running around the school. One of the teacher’s Aide’s was helping to try and get her back to her class (even though she wasn’t meant to be with Chatterbox at the time). Chatterbox then went up to the front fence, opened the top gate and went out onto the footpath. She walked down to the middle gate and then they got her back into school. Her teacher is of the opinion that she was trying to see what would happen if she went out of the grounds. I agree – but wondered out loud how far she will go next time!
In response to her leaving the school grounds they have put into place a few strategies… the only one they told me was that they would have to put the middle bolt across the gates. It felt good in a way to be able to say that I’ve been telling them that since last year!! The problem with this is that they have parents in and out of the school all day and they don’t always lock the gates properly. They really need to stop access through all gates except the pool type gate to ensure the safety of the kids at the school.
I will have to arrange a meeting with the principal this week to find out what they are going to do to make the school more secure. Just don’t know when I’ll get a chance as we have the paediatrician (finally – yey!) tomorrow and our yearly fostering case conference on Wednesday – in addition to all the normal running around we have to do!
Our dilemma is that it happened on Friday and we only just found out about it today (Monday). Chatterbox doesn’t know what her teacher talked to me about and is used to me having to have chats with her. Do we say something to her about it? She already knows that she shouldn’t leave the school grounds alone. She knows she doesn’t go away from school or home without an adult. I really think that this time she left the grounds for attention. Do we talk to her about the stuff that she already knows and give her the attention she wanted? Or do we not mention it at all and have her think that she got away with it? For someone with her issues it is too far away from the actual even to discipline for it. So far we haven’t let her know that we know… what should we do???