The Herdmans Part 6
Things were going fairly well for the Herdmans, at school anyway. The three boys were having success in their classes and Billy’s behaviour had improved significantly. Their attendance continued to be sporadic and it was all or nothing for them; ie, all three would be at school or neither would be in the building.
The boys missed two days in a row. This wasn’t entirely unusual but on the third day one of the bus drivers mentioned that he hadn’t seen any sign of life at the family’s rental unit for a few days. Could it be? Had they moved on?
The next day, I was advised by the District Office that the family had moved across the river. Here on the Kingston Peninsula, across the river means being in the suburbs of the city. We are separated from that area by the Kennebecasis River and a three minute ride on a cable ferry. They were now out of our catchment area and would be attending yet another school.
Not long after the Herdman’s first arrived, the teacher of the brother in grade 7 took it upon himself to carefully go through the boy’s school record; ie, the file that follows students within the province. He made a chronological list of all the schools the fellow attended. We were shocked to see that he had been enrolled in seventeen different schools since he was in kindergarten, AND THERE WERE GAPS. This meant that he was either not in school or the file had not caught up with him at certain locations. To describe this family as being nomadic would be quite fitting.
I met with the boys’ teachers and delivered the news. I have to admit that I felt a shower of relief knowing that they were now outside our jurisdiction, but there was a matter we needed to discuss. I was glad that one of the teachers brought it up before I did.
Now I should point out that I would consider every teacher at that meeting to be student-centred. Being such means that the first question asked is, What is in the best interest of the student? We had worked had to accommodate the three boys and to provide them with a good learning environment. We had necessary supports in place, and we had come to understand and know them at a higher level.
The aforementioned teacher said, “You know what is in their best interests? It is best for them to remain in this school. We’ve gotten to know them and have worked hard to ensure that they experience success. It is better that they stay with us rather than start anew in yet another school.”
This was a true test of our school-centredness. If we were, in fact, first concerned with the best interests of the boys, we had to agree – and we did. Being student-centred does not mean taking the easy road.
I contacted the social worker. She agreed that having the boys remain in our school would be best for them. She said that she would contact the mother and get back to me. I have to be honest and say that I was hoping that the mother would decline the offer.
Mrs. Herdman was in agreement but there was the issue of transportation. There was no bus travelling from their area to our school. No problem – the social worker arranged to have mother paid vehicle mileage for each day she dropped off and picked up the boys. I had to sign a chit each week, verifying the boys’ attendance. I was hoping that mother would use her transportation cheque to help buy a new muffler for the family car.
Out there somewhere was a principal and a staff that had just dodged a big bullet.
And so the saga continued.
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