Preschool expels student for mom's Facebook rant: When to vent online?

Venting about a child's school experience on Facebook or Twitter has increased with the popularity of social media. But when a parental rant reaches teachers, parents need to remember that their posts have consequences.

Screenshot WPIXTV - New York

Ashley Habat took to Facebook for a brief rant about the private Christian school her 4-year-old son attends and the school responded by "unfriending" the child – by expelling him from preschool.

As distressing as this decision by the school may be to Ms. Habat, the real problem this parent may be facing is finding a happy thought about educators in general and not allow this incident to color the rest of her child’s school year or career.

According to reports, Ms. Habat was irritated because she felt the school had failed to give enough warning about when picture day was coming and as a result her son was late for school on picture day.

The mom’s post read, “Why is it that every single day there is something new I dislike about Will’s School? Are my standards really too high or are people working in the education field really just that ignorant?”

She made the same mistake many of us have made when we just need to let off steam online: We're not always situationally aware of who, aside from her closest friends, might be seeing the post.

Having ranted a time or three on Facebook over various incidents at schools that my four sons have attended over the past 20 years, I completely understand a parent’s need to vent.

Some might even applaud Habat for not making a scene at school and bringing her disapproval directly into the classroom.

A few years ago when I was having a conflict with a teacher because I felt she didn’t understand some of the special needs of my son who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Aspergers, I posted a rant on Facebook.

Because I didn’t want the post to upset the educational apple cart, just to get some social network therapy, I limited it only to friends and it was not marked as “public.”

All I really wanted was to have my steadfast friends to give me a little virtual sympathy with a “there-there” or a “here-here” in the comments. However, a very well meaning Facebook friend who was on the PTA tried to help facilitate a dialogue with the school by bringing my post to the attention of the school principal.

I will only say it took the better part of a year to repair the ensuing all-points disaster that ensued as I felt betrayed by my friend; the teacher and school administration were offended by my rant; and my child felt the heat of the overall situation frying his emotional circuits.

However, when it came time the next Fall for my son to go to school, I was already taking a defensive posture in August as I waited for my child’s classroom assignment.

My husband took me aside and carefully advised me to find my happy place. “Please, for the sake of our child, keep an open mind,” my husband pleaded.

My son was in the room at the time and said, “Mom, what my teacher did it really didn’t bother me as much as it bothered you.”

From that moment, it took me quite a lot of soul searching to admit how hard it is to relinquish control and care of your child to teachers, acting during the school day in Loco Parentis [Latin: meaning in the place of a parent].

In sending my child to school, I learned a great deal about myself as a person and a parent.

As a result of the incident, I had to admit that under all my hostility toward the teacher and school was the fact that I was simply afraid on many levels.

Not only was I afraid my son would be scarred by a bad school experience, I was also afraid I was failing as a parent by not being able to make that experience perfect for my child.

There are lots of bumps through the school year, be it misunderstandings, bullying, or missed picture days, and each of those can be an open door to either disaster or a place of higher social and emotional learning.

The one thing I can guarantee is that if a parent brings a positive attitude to the new school year, the child will pick it up like an Olympic torch and run with it. Parents have the opportunity each day of their child’s life to help them learn to be the light in the world because they shine and not because we have set a fire on social media. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to