Public schools

When Teachers Call the Cops on Parents Whose Kids Skip Their Zoom Classes

Punishing families for struggling with distance learning is doubly wrong.

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If there's one thing the public school system shouldn't be doing right now, it's making life even more hellishly difficult for parents. And yet many teachers in the state of Massachusetts are contacting the authorities to report parents for suspected child abuse when kids fail to show up for Zoom classes.

"Massachusetts school officials have reported dozens of families to state social workers for possible neglect charges because of issues related to their children's participation in remote learning classes during the pandemic shutdown in the spring," The Boston Globe reported on Saturday.

The infuriating article is worth reading in full. The Globe spoke with several parents who have received calls and visits from the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). The department has the power to remove children from their homes and place them in foster care if agents suspect that kids are being mistreated, abused, or neglected—and DCF considers distance-learning no-shows to be possible abuse cases. DCF lists numerous circumstances in which teachers should feel obliged to call the cops, among them kids appearing tired or hungry during Zoom sessions.

Working parents who have no choice but to leave their young children in the care of a sibling, or let them fend for themselves, will be particularly vulnerable to unfounded child services investigations. This isn't a theoretical concern. Consider the case of Em Quiles, who

struggled to work her full-time job while overseeing her young son's schooling. During remote class time, her 7-year-old was largely supervised by his teenage brother, who had his own school work to do.

Quiles said she told staff at Heard Street Discovery Academy in Worcester in the spring that her work schedule made it tough to assist with virtual schooling and she struggled to navigate the school's online platforms. "They didn't offer any help," she said.

Then in June, Quiles was stunned to receive a call from the state's Department of Children and Families. The school had accused Quiles of neglect, she was told, because the 7-year-old missed class and homework assignments.

Another mother, a Spanish-speaking immigrant, requested a virtual meting with a school councillor to discuss her son's behavioral difficulties, which had worsened during pandemic-induced isolation. A few days after she spoke with the counselor, DCF called the mom. Someone at the school—possibly the counselor—had accused the mom of "general neglect" based on "behaviors observed or disclosed during remote learning." The agency spent weeks investigating the matter, interrogating the mother and her son on everything from "the contents of her refrigerator to her son's sleeping location." The allegation was eventually dismissed.

A third parent—Christi Brouder, a single mother of four kids—faced frequent threats from teachers that DCF would intervene if the children didn't improve their virtual attendance. Once, when her 10-year-old daughter was tuned in to Zoom class, Brouder's autistic six-year-old son leapt naked in front of the screen. Predictably, the school called the cops:

Later that day, Brouder received a call from the Department of Children and Families. The social worker informed her that school staff had reported a naked adult male exposing himself on the computer.

Brouder explained that she lives alone with her four young children and that the nude male was only 6.

She was relieved when the social worker told her the case wouldn't go anywhere. The school district, however, wasn't ready to drop the issue. The head of Haverhill's special-education department told Brouder that afternoon they had contacted the city police department "due to the severity of the allegations," according to Brouder.

A plainclothes police officer came to her home that evening; that case, too, was eventually dropped.

Massachusetts's DCF is not radically different from the child services departments in the other 49 states, and similar issues are probably cropping up elsewhere. The harm is likely to be worse for poorer families, though economic security is by no means a guarantee of safety from predatory child services investigations.

The decision to rely partly or entirely on virtual learning has created a horrible situation for many working parents who depend on school for day care. Public school officials should be treating such families with empathy and patience, not putting the authorities on speed dial.

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    3. Sounds like some teachers need to be SWATted, and get a taste of own medicine.

      1. No, a basic Section 1983 lawsuit would work because all the truancy law states is that the student must attend “a public day school” for those days the school committee has it open.

        None of this home schooling bullbleep is legally mandated.

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  2. DCF lists numerous circumstances in which teachers should feel obliged to call the cops, among them kids appearing tired or hungry during Zoom sessions.

    If a coworker appears tired or hungry during a Zoom session you should feel obliged to call the cops. After all, she might be a victim of COVID-fueled human trafficking!

    1. If parents think a school counselor or teacher appears tired or hungry, they should call the cops. And absolutely DO NOT give the school employee and kind of warning.

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  3. most common in high-poverty, predominantly Black and Latino school districts

    Once again, COVID disproportionately affects people of color!

  4. Another mother, a Spanish-speaking immigrant, requested a virtual meting with a school councillor…

    At which time the council meted out the severest of punishments? Because if teachers have to sit in front of their computers then by gosh so do your brats.

  5. Why is there a picture of a child in a mask alone in front of the computer?

    How is this not FUCKEN GOD DAMN CHILD ABUSE?!

    I want to literally throttle the necks of these motherfucken teachers, parents and adults who are traumatizing kids like this.

    As I type this I want to pummel someone.

    1. Because like most Americans, her parents:
      A) Understand masks only as religious totems (not Science!)
      B) Feel a strong tribal loyalty and the need to both signal and indoctrinate their offspring
      C) Actually fear that their kid poses a significant infectious risk
      D) All of the above

      1. Isn’t that Tony’s kid?

    2. Worst of all…The mask isn’t covering her whole face with eyes painted on so the teacher can’t see her napping. Kids these days…

    3. My best guess is that it was an artistic decision by the photographer to help convey the idea of ‘distance learning due to COVID’ as opposed to ‘kid playing a game on a laptop’.

      1. Exactly. It’ll be the sort of picture that years from now people will look at and know exactly what period it refers to. Remember when they had that pandemic and people were crazy isolated and wearing masks?

    4. Obviously the photographer wanted to caricature the times.

    5. We have a citywide mandate but I stopped wearing one two weeks ago. I carry one in case an employee tells me to put it on but so far besides Walmart no one has said a word.

  6. Did the school district provided a computer? My local school district is supposed to provide Chromebooks for children that don’t have a way to connect from home. I doubt they will have them before instruction starts next week.

    1. Which is why this is illegal — Federal law requires FAPE — Free and Appropriate Public Education. Having to pay $100/month for internet is NOT ‘free’.

    2. Many districts are handing out 4g hotspots like candy.

  7. Let’s get one thing straight. It’s the TEACHERS AND ADULTS engaging in child abuse. Not parents caught in the cross hairs.

    “Another mother, a Spanish-speaking immigrant, requested a virtual meting with a school councillor to discuss her son’s behavioral difficulties, which had worsened during pandemic-induced isolation. A few days after she spoke with the councillor, DCF called the mom. Someone at the school—possibly the councillor—had accused the mom of “general neglect” based on “behaviors observed or disclosed during remote learning.”

    This is a social disaster that is without common sense or sense of compassion.

    We’ve observed this at the daycare. Kids were regressing. You completely pulled people’s lives out of their routines through the lockdowns and now with this obscene Zoom stupidity. Zoom is not meant to teach. Now we’re getting them back on track but let’s be clear: It’s politicians and teachers who made this mess and continue to make a mess. Not Covid. THEY ARE.

    That councillor…./fist in mouth. OPEN THE DAMN SCHOOLS YOU ASSHOLES.

    1. Thank God Quebec avoided being this retarded. Thank. God.

      Hopefully they stay this way.

      1. Maybe Quebec was protected with retard herd immunity (due to decades of their own types of retard).

        1. Lol.

        2. Even WuFlu wants nothing to do with snooty fake French icebacks!

    2. “You completely pulled people’s lives out of their routines through the lockdowns and now with this obscene Zoom stupidity. Zoom is not meant to teach.”

      I’ve done Zoom meetings and they will totally drain you. A fitting metaphor would be wearing a mask for 3 hours.

      You’re basically staring at a screen from a fixed position for prolonged period of time, and you start to feel stiff and uncomfortable after an hour or so. And the whole experience is an online equivalent of sitting in a circle where everyone is staring right at your face and only your face any time you speak.

      There’s no way little kids will be able to learn via zoom for an entire school year. But the libs who run the system (and racism is systemic, you know) don’t care, including teacher’s union who are unironically throwing large protests to protest school death traps. And these New England moms probably think Cuomo and Biden are rock stars.

      1. I worked from home and used Zoom frequently in my last job. Most people — adults who have a choice — keep their cameras off. The display was for sharing presentations. No normal people want to be on camera like that
        Every now and then a boss would want cameras on to ensure we were attending and paying attention and there was always much grumbling.

        I have also done training with Zoom, both giving and receiving, and it is generally inferior to being in person.

  8. They have their wish. Now they can keep an eye parents and kids at home remotely.

    1. Yep. CPS workers are just making sure they will keep their jobs if/when remote schooling becomes permanent. Next up, they will demand you install cameras in each room so they can be sure your kid did not leave your home while he is at “school”, and will take note of anything that violates school policy in your home, so hide your booze, guns, weed, and cigarettes

      1. Home inspections and ankle monitors.

      2. Or….. and I’m just spitballing here…….. we could get rid f the progressives and go back to normal.

        Think about it.

        1. Good news for lawyers! Soon, people will only want to kill them _second_.

  9. a naked adult male had exposed himself

    If the adult male In question were a public school employee, he would be placed on paid leave (at worst) while the matter was investigated. No cops would be called you can bet.

    1. They would if it was a female employee, especially a hot the footage would be examined over and over again.

    2. How do you misidentify a six year old as an adult male. I am betting they are just looking for reasons to call in child services. After all before they were getting paid and not working.

  10. Calling the cops on parents for missing zoom meetings: that’s violence.

  11. DCF considers distance-learning no-shows to be possible abuse cases. DCF lists numerous circumstances in which teachers should feel obliged to call the cops, among them kids appearing tired or hungry during Zoom sessions.

    Zero tolerance. Violence. Horse play. Sick days. None of it.

  12. Child-welfare workers and school personnel — two more occupations that need to have their immunity clauses struck down. It is especially clear in today’s malicious political atmosphere that bad actors apply their personal political biases and use the system to punish innocent people for perceived misbehavior.

    1. There does need to be some kind of liability for child welfare workers. Even when the organization has them work in teams, in practical terms it can be hard to disagree with coworkers. I don’t know about individual liability though; I think right now CWS has no organizational liability at all and that would be a good start.

      I don’t want to get started but yes especially in small towns where the therapists and case workers and CWS folks and teachers all know each other. In general they are all overworked and underpaid. In specific there are some very disturbed individuals with a lot of power over others.

  13. I don’t know if it’s part of the platform yet, but ban all teachers’ unions and end compulsory education.

    1. California is combining those ideas, with their own take on them. By requiring all jobs to be unionized.

  14. Truancy laws should be repealed. They seem like a good idea until you stop and think about them.

  15. Look, Massachusetts was founded as a Puritan totalitarian state, and has never gotten over that legacy. Any deviations towards individual liberty was superficial and temporary–and certainly not orchestrated by the ruling elite.

    1. Fun fact: Massachusetts did not recognize Christmas as a holiday until 1870 because it was considered a Catholic (ie pagan) celebration. The Puritan descendant mill owners would keep the Irish workers on the job until midnight on Christmas Eve, so that’s how midnight mass came to be (at least that’s what I was told by the Micks I knew growing up).

    2. There was a certain event involving tea and people who didn’t like the ruling elite…

  16. This just reminds us that the government owns our kids. We just get to borrow them as long as we obey the rules.

    If there is direct proof of child abuse then I can see the government seeking to protect the child. But not inferred or potential abuse. Every parent at some time can be inferred as a potential child abuser.

    Then, what is determined as child abuse? If my child doesn’t take a bath for two days is that abuse? If he sleeps in his day clothes because he’s too tired to change into pajamas is that abuse? If he gets stung a dozen times by wasps outside my home is that abuse?

    1. This just reminds us that the government owns our kids. We just get to borrow them as long as we obey the rules.

      Single moms get subsidized by taxpayers, through services, tax breaks, and direct handouts. I don’t see a problem from a libertarian point of view to say “for the $30k/year taxpayers give you, you must comply with these rules”.

      1. Tempting policy, but it will lead to a downward spiral. Government handouts justify coercion. Government coercion crushes peoples will. People with crushed wills become unproductive. Unproductive people need government handouts.
        A century of government overstep has created a mess that will take generations to fix.

      2. To me then, the logical conclusion is a 100% tax rate and the government gives everyone what it thinks each should get. Or better yet government just dispenses with people getting paid and they take the wages from companies and dole it out. Effectively they then can have 100% control except for the leaders, of course.

    2. Remember, the 2012 DNC convention slogan: Government is the one thing we all belong to.

  17. tell mom she can’t catch covid through the laptop screen.

    1. Stupid is highly contagious through the laptops though.

  18. Mr. Soave doesn’t say whether this sort of activity by the authorities is increased, or just more bothersome, under the circumstances.

    I could see a reason for it to have increased: They save on legwork. They can just sit back and monitor attendance electronically, and produce just as much trouble for families as if their investigators were pounding the pavement, so they do more of it. But it may not have actually increased.

    1. Right. Although I see why “mandated reporting” is a thing, people whose careers require them to be mandated reporters, like teachers, are subject to a weird set of incentives. Some CWS departments get so many calls that they generate a policy to refer the cases that don’t meet the criteria for abuse – poverty/low-level neglect calls to school-affiliated or community-run family support agencies – free school supplies, free food, referrals to free counseling, parenting classes, free clothing. It dawned on me one day that mandated reporting was essentially involving CWS in a chain of events that began with a teacher or other school staff – often – and ended at a school-run resource center. It could stay in-house as a function of the school system, but for the mandated reporting laws.

      This is to say that I think it’s difficult for teachers to handle knowing they don’t have the level of surveillance on kids that they used to have. They want to cast a wide net and make sure that nothing serious is overlooked, and in many places that’s the law, period. But there is a psychology that goes with it, which COVID has revealed; the “but what about all the abuse calls that I make each year, that now I won’t have evidence to make?”

  19. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    -CS Lewis, presumably talking about child protection services

  20. What kind of CPS (DCF) response would a family generate by getting a cardboard cut- out with their child’s likeness and eye holes, while wearing a Trump 2020 shirt & mask with a MAGA hat?

  21. While government shouldn’t take away kids, objectively, for a single, working mom to raise a child by herself is child neglect.

    1. I see your point. However, case abound in which there is no capable adult anywhere in the families or the social circle, or the adults that are capable share a household with an addict or a molester. Sometimes there is literally no other option aside from foster care, and the government is not supposed to take kids for being from a single-parent family. There are often resources and experiences missing from that upbringing and also things present that are detrimental – but the alternatives are frequently worse.

    2. Some qualifiers are necessary in that sentence. A single working parent can raise a kid without being neglectful, if there’s support from family or a religious community, or if the kid is old enough to be unsupervised at a friend’s house, be supervised by an older cousin, or can work part-time.

      But qualifiers aside, it is not an easy thing to raise a kid alone without cutting any corners.

  22. Distance learning so authorities now have access to whats in your home. so many things they can now list as dangerous. they already went after one kid for having a bb gun in his room

  23. Those aren’t YOUR children… They are ALL children of our ever-growing socialist(Democrats) state bureaucracies.

    And you down own YOU either; the [WE] foundation (Democrats) does..

    Perhaps someday the [WE] foundation will be recognized as the pit-of-despair it’s always been.

  24. So now you can be arrested for not doing the teachers job when the teachers are not doing their jobs but still getting paid as if they were. This is like being arrested for malpractice for cleaning your own wounds when the doctors refuse to let you in the ER. This is insanity.

  25. So, when the DCF comes to your neighbor’s house to take their kids, are you going to mobilize the neighborhood to resist? Because that will be necessary, sooner or later.

  26. Is turnabout fair play? There were plenty of cases of teachers not holding classes, low to no content when they did. Then there is the problem of teachers not willing teach in classroom at all this fall. Do parents get to call the cops for the child neglect and abuse of the teachers?
    Of course, I’m not advocating for that, just trying to make a point. Seems to me there needs to be a lot less criticism and a whole lot more grace, compassion and cooperation.

  27. This is going to be a lost generation. It will take decades to overcome though having children out of the clutches of liberal indoctrination is a very good thing.

  28. let’s hope that this shit cause lots of families to abandon the failed public schools and the self-important “teachers” that have forced this silliness on the kids. if i was a parent i would have my lawyer issue a demand for a computer, broadband and await the reply. there is NO WAY i’d let my computer access the zoom system. in a case of schadenfreude i can only guffaw that this is the result that was predictable and those who stood by as the unions commandeered the system are simply reaping the wind that comes from planting ice.

  29. in related matters this is a good time to remind the folks that under no circumstances should you take a call ftom ANYONE claiming to be investigating ANYTHING. do not make statements. do not step on your own dick

  30. “A plainclothes police officer came to her home that evening; that case, too, was eventually dropped”

    DO NOT ANSWER THE DOOR. MAKE THEM GET A WARRANT…let ’em pound all night…dickheads

  31. It’s kind of overwhelming how many dire libertarian predictions have come true in the past few years. We used to be laughed at and scorned for warning about all these encroachments on our liberty, and now, the same normies that scorned us are suffering at the hands of the state they supported.

    I used to argue that we abolish all public schools and would get roundly excoriated (“why do you hate children?”). Well, no, actually, it’s because I care about the children that I want the leftist indoctrination camps shut down. The weirdest thing right now is watching as the tradcons argue in favor of reopening schools so they can send their kids back to the leftists!

    Too bad it’s too late for them to turn things around without bloodshed. It’ll be their kids that are shot execution-style and kicked into the mass graves they were forced to dig.

    1. The leftists are not suffering, they are loving this.

    2. “I care about the children that I want the leftist indoctrination camps shut down.”

      Which is why I wonder about all the clamor to open public schools back up.

      You’d think that teachers telling parents not to send their kids to school would finally be a win.

      Instead, most conservative parents are beating the doors down to return their kinds to the “leftist indoctrination camps”.

      1. good point robert Ore…they seem hell bent on that! this is the moment charters have been awaiting…let’s hope the recent nonsense with the petulant teacher and their preposterous unions has the lasting effect of marginalizing the unions as the completely non-educational organizations they are. we’ve seen schools fail again and again as the unions gained their grip. time to admit that they are not very good at educating kids WHICH SHOULD BE THEIR ONLY GOAL!

  32. “ And yet many teachers in the state of Massachusetts are contacting the authorities to report parents”

    Uhhh, no. Probably not.

    Teachers don’t normally “contact authorities” when children are not present at school. At most, the teacher may call the parent to check up on the child and/or to verify an excused absence. A teacher then may record the absence and/or report it to the Principal or other administrator.

    Its the administration that “contacts authorities”.

  33. Good thing they don’t have a law like this in Seattle. Less than half of elementary school kids logged into the district’s learning portal after Seattle Public Schools shut down for the coronavirus. Of course it effected Blacks and English Language learners the most
    Now they are talking about delaying the start of school so teachers can learn the most effective way to teach online.
    Thank god we have the school district and the teacher’s union looking out for the children’s education

  34. More good reasons to change to private schooling, home schooling, etc… anything but government public schooling.

  35. A call to the police or a child welfare agency should be done by teachers or administrators if it is a last resort. When my kids were in school, twenty-some years ago, parents got calls first if there was any sort of problem, not children’s services nor the police. If the parents were strangely unavailable, or did not respond in a reasonable fashion to the school, then the authorities had to get involved. In these cases, if the parents were contacted, and the school was informed of the actual situation, the police probably would not have been called.

  36. Half of Americans agree with the teacher’s unions and karens It’s a product of needing to feel superior over others because they lack any confidence, and a replacement for traditional religion, which is badically the same as the first if you’ve ever met a religious zealot. We’re repeating the 19th century just giving everything different names, Christianity is now Marxism, and Jim Crow is “safe space.”

  37. Suspected Child Abuse, and the reporting thereof by school teachers raises the following questions. Suspected by whom, based on exactly what.

    Pulling the handle on a fire alarm box might be exciting for some,think of the activity such action brings. Sending false fire alarms is actionable, possibly leading to fines and or jail time, who knows. Ditto for teachers calling the cops over/about their suspicious, perhaps unfounded might one add, of “child abuse”.

  38. Huh, guess kids that don’t show up for the daily dose of propaganda are sending their parents to the gulag.

  39. There’s a business opportunity here developing a program that fakes your kid’s presence in front of the computer. There should also be anti union protesters marching and waving signs in the background.

    1. ITS CALLED A MANNIKIN

  40. let’s rise together against the corona pandemic. we can be together with papislot

  41. Just tell the kids to leave zoom on all day with their smart phone while they surf porn on the computer.

  42. one nation under Karen, with liberty and justice for…those who are willing to pretend those things still exist

  43. So…. Why is the little girl in the picture, the one doing virtual school, from home, by herself, in her own house, wearing the face diaper of oppression?
    Makes this look like a liberal propaganda piece straight off.

  44. Pull your children from the jurisdiction of the public fool system and officially Home School them. They’re going to be home anyway, you might as well cut the strings between your children/home/private property and the municipal corporation.
    One you do, nothing going on with “your” child in “your” home, is any of their business.
    Then put up “No Trespassing” signs at all entries to your property and keep the municipal terrorists out.

  45. You would think King George was back in charge again. Time to repeat history.

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  47. The Worcester, MA school district seems to be trigger happy with DCF. They did this with an insufficiently obsequious homeschooler two years ago: https://www.telegram.com/news/20190926/judge-tosses-most-of-home-schooling-parents-lawsuit-against-worcester-school-dcf-officials

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  50. Last I checked, teachers are state employees.
    If they want a camera (or even audio) in/from your house, they’d best get a search warrant.

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