Friday, February 24, 2012


We had the meeting with the Superintendent today.  Both he and the principal are fine men, compassionate, firm and wise.  They realized that Ilya needed to express himself, and they listened respectfully.

I didn't say much, but did try and clarify that the reason Ilya missed so much school in the fall was because he was scared to go to school.  He began medication which helped, then (as I interpret things) got the idea that if people were scared of him, then he could walk the halls without being afraid himself.  I look back now and see that it was a clear idea, and that he set out to put it into action.

For me (only) he smiled
Firstly, over Christmas break he went out to buy clothes.  He bought a leather jacket - actually it was wool, with leather trim, but the "effect" was "leather jacket".  And he bought plain black t-shirts, black jeans and a black stocking cap, and another black and gray fleece jacket.  With his dark eyes and black hair he looks very handsome - but reminiscent of James Dean....yes; not quite "scary", but certainly a "don't mess with me" look.

Then there was an e-mail from his ESL teacher saying he was using bad language - crude words for people of other races and girls.  Only today did I find out that he was in detention a number of times for this!  (This is the only complaint I have with the school - I should have known of every instance.  If I'd known and he'd kept it up, I would have removed him....)  Anyway - at the time, it just seemed like some anomaly to me.  Ilya doesn't do that (or so I thought).

He also developed this practice of staring at people.  He even tried it at home.  I laughed and told him it was ridiculous.  But Sergei complained that he'd do it upstairs, when Sergei had friends over.  Practicing, I suppose.  So - now I can see that Ilya was developing a number of strategies for appearing intimidating, and  keeping himself safe.

The actual step-by-step of the altercation became known, too.  Ilya put his hands on the kid, who punched Ilya in the eye, and then he tried to grab Ilya around the knees to throw him down, and that's when Ilya kneed the other boy in the face.  So - in some ways that is not quite the cold-blooded "assault" that had been assumed.  No matter, really.

I just feel better knowing more, understanding more - even though the result is the same.  Almost.  He can come back next fall if he has a counselor's statement that he is "safe" and if he completes two on-line classes.  So, one good result - we can get as many on-line classes as we want free of charge!

I've been running around all day in a dreadful snowstorm, seeking river rocks for an event we're doing at church here on Sunday.  The truck bringing them from Grand Rapids got into an accident.  So, instead of focusing on home-issues, I've had my mind at church.

Now, I'm heading home.  It will be "interesting" to see how Ilya has processed everything.  Fingers are crossed.


Tina in CT said...

Has he been home most of the school year? Is he home alone during the day doing online classes?

You sure have your hands full Annie.

I hope you find a good counsellor of Ilya so he or she plus the medication helps him so that he can return to school.

Doesn't the city have to provide a school/education for him even though he cannot go to the regular school?

I don't know how you do it all and are still so upbeat.

I can't remember when you'd had a picture of Ilya. What a handsome boy.

Hevel Cohen said...

I'm glad that the principal and superintendent listened to you. Too often that doesn't happen.

I hope things will improve from this point on for Ilya.

Annie said...

Tina, Craig is home during the day with Anastasia, Ilya and Maxim!

We live in Lansing, and Lansing has a hard time providing is not a very responsive school district - at least not to our specific set of needs.

MyGirlElena said...

I am so surprised the superintendant conceded to the meeting. The school district sounds like Pleasantville :-) It upsets me that only Ilya is getting punished, though!
I had to laugh with the "staring" and intolerance of other races. I have a spunky 6 year old who doesn't stare, but does not tolerate people of other races if they have peculiar odors about them (I have to admit that some smells make me gag too).

kate said...

It sounds like things really went as well as could be expected. I'm glad they took the time to listen. I just wish they'd been able to modify it to a suspension.

Did anything happen to the other boy involved? He doesn't sound blameless.

MariaG said...

I have been thinking about this situation constantly. It just doesn't sit right with me that your son is expelled! (wow, that is severe!) Do I understand correctly that the other boy got off "scott-free"? It seems/is unjust.

Annie said...

Well, it became clear in the meeting that the teacher didn't see how it began, and that it wasn't as she initially said - that Ilya just up and attacked the kid.... He did put hands on him - he put his hands on the kid's shoulders, probably to say something intimidating (Ilya is not in the right here, really). But, the other boy threw the first punch. I think that aspect of it all was new.

It is a VERY nice district, though, and I thought both administrators were fair men, and kind.

I see that they are operating in a country where lawsuits fly fast and furious, though. If Ilya came back to school and even in self-defense hurt someone, they could probably be sued. They also think that Ilya may be targeted by this guy's friends, etc. After it happened, the principal was concerned that Sergei would be targeted. So that must be something that happens there. Retaliation.

I really rather agree with them that he shouldn't go back. I wish it were different, that he'd handled things differently. He acted out of fear, and used the strategies he'd learned from his big brothers in Russia. Those strategies worked great for those Viktor and Sasha in their setting - but BAD for Ilya in this setting.

Live and learn. I put it all in God's hands. All things work for the best for those who trust in Him.