The next morning, I kicked my groggy-self. I reread my email before I hit send.
Tank accompanied me to the Morton Arboretum with the three tykes I sit for where we explored the children's garden. He scooped up tadpoles from the pond to give the tots a closer look before releasing them back into the murky water. This field trip helped distract me momentarily from my desperation for a nap.
When we returned home, I saw that the superintendent had emailed me back. He called me to discuss my concerns just as Tank and I were chasing the little guys up for their naps.
He admitted that he was concerned about the proximity of the teachers to the place where the children were waiting for the buses. He shared with me that his position on how he would approach the incident as a father varied from how he viewed it as an educator. Ultimately, he said that the school would not adjust the suspension and allow Tank to participate in graduation.
It mattered little that the instigator had a three month track record of good behavior while Tank has been a student in good standing at the junior high for the past 4 years. I can only imagine what kind of trouble this kid had been in before enrolling at our school. The fact that Tank was defending himself wasn't a factor either. I pointed out to Tank that if his classmates hadn't used their phones to capture the incident on video, he might not have gotten into any trouble, because not one of the chaperoning teachers saw what happened.
Tank's reputation in his gym class was discussed, but his strength of character wouldn't matter in this situation The gym teacher shared with me earlier in the school year that Tank regularly spoke to an autistic student at the start of each gym period. This autistic boy was new to the school. Gym class made him anxious. Tank's engaging chats helped this guy ease into his gym class environment. That's typical Tank.
The principal's comment: 'I'm concerned about Tank having unstructured time this summer,' didn't sit well with me, and I made sure that the superintendent understood that. Where did she get off? I told Mr. Superintendent that in a school of our size, I find it inexcusable that the principal doesn't have a better handle on who the students are.
My son, as I pointed out to her in our conference the afternoon of the fight, earned $6,400 as a 13 year old last summer. Tank runs his own landscaping business in addition to working as a caddy at a prestigious nearby golf course. 'He is nothing but structured. He works with lots of different kinds of people and he gets along well with all of them.' As we left the conference, Jerk-face principal cautioned Tank not to mess with this video footage on social media. Again, WHAT?! Tank is the only 8th grader in the school without a phone. Before I left her office, I spun around and informed clueless Jerk-face, 'My son doesn't own a phone. He isn't on social media, but thanks for your advice.'
Having attended a graduation ceremony before for Eddie at the junior high, I recognized what Tank was missing. Not much. Oldest brother, Lad, finished 8th grade at our local Catholic school. The graduation festivities at the pubic junior high paled in comparison to that of the Catholic school. I knew we weren't missing much, but that was beside the point,
My email to the superintendent was strongly worded. I left nothing out of my message. I've never been a fan of this principal, and I reiterated that fact. Thursday afternoon, I hung up from the superintendent knowing that Tank still couldn't attend graduation. I felt satisfied that I had defended my kid, and exposed Principal Jerk-face for the inept individual that she is.
After my nap, I asked Tank how he wanted to celebrate graduation. He could go to the movies, go out for ice-cream, or choose something else. He and Eddie departed for the movies after dining on Tank's pizza dinner request. The minute they returned Tank packed his bag to sleep over at his best friend's house. His friend's mom, who texted me that Tank is the best kid she knows, had invited 15 kids to their lake house the next day. His friends assured him graduation was boring.
The lake house graduation party was not.