Teacher wanted my daughter to “schedule” sick days

Lefty Graves

**This article is based on nonfiction by actual events I witnessed firsthand; used with permission.

As a parent to a daughter who survived cancer, nothing can surprise me anymore. My daughter has no adrenal glands and only one kidney due to her cancer. My daughter has also undergone nine rounds of chemotherapy and at least nine surgical procedures. Consequently, my daughter has a very low immune system.

When my daughter was in grade school, the school nurse would call me and tell me that there had been a flu outbreak at the school and to keep my daughter home for a week. We would then pick up her schoolwork or patch her into her classroom via the computer for lessons.

Unfortunately, a newer teacher at the middle school/high school had no idea that the school worked closely with such children. This teacher was very difficult to deal with, and I was often called into her classroom to talk to the teacher.

During one such meeting, the teacher smarted off to me that my daughter just needed to “Schedule her sick days”. This is when I went and grabbed the principal (I knew I was going to need a witness) and then proceeded to tell the teacher about cancer.

I held nothing back. I started from the day my child was born and went through the various surgical procedures, the nine rounds of chemotherapy, and the many times I sat by my daughter’s bedside, unsure whether she would make it through the night.

When I finished, the teacher was left speechless. I stood to leave and told her that my daughter would be exiting her class and that I hoped that she would take some time to evaluate what life might be like for children who can’t predict when they will become ill. I also suggested she re-evaluate her career.

As I turned to leave, I saw another mother that had a child who had recovered from cancer and had health issues standing in the hallway. She gave me a quick hug and told me, “well said.” I transferred my daughter out of that classroom that afternoon, and my daughter made straight “A’s” in the next class despite missing a few days due to illness.

The teacher left the school at the end of that year, and I heard that she went into a new career. No one can predict when they’re going to be sick, and to be asked to “schedule” sick days was absolutely ridiculous in my book. The principal agreed with me and was very apologetic! What would you have done?

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming & more. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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