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2010-01-23 - 12:12 a.m.

I am a mother of six children who is very upset that my local public school, has chosen to litigate by taking me to court with the allegation of a Criminal Offense of a Class 3 Misdemeanor for Failure to comply with VA CODE 22-1-254.

The facts are that my four youngest children have been late 2 or 3 times a month while in my care. That is acknowledged- however we most often when late are within moments of the bell. In fact the report cards of my four girls reflected that as some were late more days than others due to the logistics of where their classrooms were in the building when they arrived just before or as the bell was ringing. Some made it on time and some didn't.

Despite that fact however of this lateness being legally negligible and insignificant when it comes to assessing whether my children are in school the required number of hours per day, they also all happen to be straight A students. It is unheard of that a school would bring a criminal charge which is the equivalent of claiming unfitness as a parent for tardiness under those circumstances.

Furthermore, it was reported to me that my now Ex husband was seen entering the school last Monday afternoon to meet with the school personnel while carrying a large file folder of paperwork. Considering that last Friday I was served with paperwork as he is taking me to court seeking full custody of our children and then just this Wednesday I received summons with the criminal complaint of Loudoun county public schools, it appear to me that the school has been complicit in actively taking a side in what should remain an issue between two parents to learn how to co-parent together without the school actively thwarting cooperation and cohesiveness by joining forces in litigious and contentious action.

It appears to me that the ONLY intent of this legal action on the part of the school is in fact to bolster my now Ex husband's custody case. Despite the fact he volunteers in the school, and eats lunch with the girls in the school two to three times a week as he is working from home, and the fact that I will not set foot in that building when he is present except when I have to for school functions, so I have not been the PTO mom, that does not mean in any way I am not a good mother and that my right to parent my girls should be taken away due to lateness!

Running late is but one of many undesirable characteristics. What is this world coming to if we were to strip parental rights away for all the equivalent poor habits that adults exhibit?

Is lateness worse than teaching one's children foul language, or teaching the children to come home and tell their mother "I hate you"; and "Your a bad mother because you get us late to school?" Those are mild compared to some of the behaviors that my children have emulated and exhibited toward me. Make no mistake about it: My children treat me EXACTLY as they observed me being treated and continue to observe me being treated by their Father.

Tonight my five year old HIT ME in the face when I went near her to give her a bedtime hug. The welcomed me after I picked them up with a new word added to their vocabulary I have never heard them use before when they said the don't like their sitter and Katie announced
"She is a bitch."

My sitter's teenage daughter was highly upset at the vocabulary they exhibited a few weeks ago, the infamous "F" word which of late has been coming out of my children's mouths.

The irony is that one of the claims in the paperwork seeking custody is that it was abusive for me to have washed my lovely daughter's mouth out with soap which I did on an occasion when she had used that word in a perfect echo of her Father to tell me "YOu are a F*@&ing Idiot."

I am NOT a fan of physical discipline or negative reinforcers however that one just pushed my limit as no other verbal assaults from my children have done.

The other one that hit my limit of patience was when a few weeks ago my darling Katie was so aggressive when I put her in time out for some transgression that I had a heck of a time letting go and disengaging as I was trying to do so she could calm down. She just KEPT coming at me- full swings, wildly trying to bite, spitting, and kicking at me in a full blown rage.

After a while of this, including her having had me full fisted by the hair at one point with my right hand trying to free her and my wrist caught in HER HOLD, it was when I said to Sadie "CALL 911" that she then let go and I thought she was backing off - however then she came at me with a spit of a huge hock of phlegm that hit me full blown in the face. That was when I instinctively reacted with a slap to her face.

The saddest thing about that is that I vow to not hit my kids and in fact left my husband over that issue as I was sick of HIM hitting them!
However, this is what is MOST SAD OF ALL-- It was when she was hit that Katie then finally calmed down.
It was the scariest thing of all for me to witness. The violence of her attacking me is not as upsetting as observing my daughter who has no responsiveness to patience and calm redirection and reassurance, however then immediately calms down and responds POSITIVELY when a hand is used against her !

The past month now both Alexy and Katie have cringed when I go to touch them. Alexy has jumped on the bandwagon of attesting that she doesn't like me and even goes so far as to say she hates me.

I was greeted at last weeks basketball game with a sneer and a tongue stuck out and disparaging comments from my two children. They come home to act violent with me. And this is because of my mothering? THat is just crazy!

This cringing and lack of warmth is the behavior the school observes as they are emulating what is expected and modeled to them from their Father and have learned that any warmth toward me in his presence is not acceptable. Since the school has recently made it clear that they too question my fitness as a parent, the girls have extended this lack of warmth toward me not only to when their father is present,but now WHENEVER I am present with them in that school building.

This negative message that the school had clearly given my children is so overt that their behavior has changed toward me when in that environment, which then only reinforces the school's viewpoint.

I was married to an extremely abusive man.

People find it just to be incredulous that a court could have awarded such an abusive man joint custody. Therefore the assumption is that because we have joint custody there must not have been abuse.

I left him and am left with $70,000 in legal debt that I happily work to pay off in order to have achieved a peaceful, happy home environment for my children.

Yet that stability I am fighting to provide has been compromised by threats to throw me in jail for inability to pay legal fees. If I miss a monthly payment to Loudoun County Court there is an immediate warrant for my arrest.

That is for the fees from this case:

I got a good job and overcame that hurdle.

Then I was threatened by the law guardian should I not pay her in full with an order of non compliance with the divorce order. I overcame that hurdle and came up with a loan to pay her in full.

Yet now once again peacefulness of my home is threatened by my girls being taught to hate me and by attacks in court by both their father AND the school.

I find it incredible that in this day and age, when a woman leaves an abusive husband, that society can be so lacking of support and in fact be complicit in the problem of family abuse still continuing.

We need to stop violence at some point. If our organizations such as courts and schools are not capable of doing such, who can?

The thing that is most heartbreaking to me is that I did in fact love my husband. It took a tremendous amount of courage to leave this man who I then had more fear of than love for.

I was as sad at the lack of support for families who want to seek help to try to overcome abuse when IN THEIR relationships as I am now at the lack of support for those who LEAVE such relationships.

We have to do better for families on both fronts.

Thank you for anything you can do to support the combating of violence in families, and for the support you did show me in the past.

Should you have an opinion as to whether Loudoun County Public Schools is appropriate in their attempt to broaden the application of the VA CODE 22.1-254, I would most appreciate your input and assistance.

My thought is that my case in Loudoun Juvenile and Domestic Court
JAD19201-03-00 does not even have any merit in being heard as there in fact has not been any violation of the compulsory attendance laws. A few minutes of lateness on average 3 times a month is clearly not grounds for alleging a criminal complaint of violation of this law!

Furthermore, I think the school to take on the expense of such litigation in this economic climate is just unconscionable when those tax dollars could be used for productive things rather than destructive efforts such as this one.

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