A week ago today came the formalities of meeting with my daughter's principals, Taiwanese language teacher, and Teacher Brian, the goto translator. I had hoped to conclude this "learning experience".
Actually the principals and I are old friends. I helped the school start their morning extracurricular English program for the students with already a high level of English in grades 3-5. I helped them pick the first textbooks and found them North American teachers. This was a year or two ago. We had lunch meetings several times in that process, so it wasn't at all uncomfortable or intimidating meeting them again, even for a transgression on their part.
When I first sat down the principal told me , "How black" my skin became since last we met, which I could of taken as a slight, but I didn't. (White skin is culturally considered more beautiful, more white collar.) I suppose she opened with that line as a test. I replied," Yes I exercise outside." After a few minutes of small chat, they read my recommendations (see post: "Towards Resolution"), and we began.
They were all apologies, the Taiwanese teacher is truly provincial, the principal related as a mom, which unless you aren't, you really can't relate (Dads ok). I got a hat and T-shirt with the school logo. I wish the anchingban had been there, and the homeroom teacher, because they passed the buck of not following the missing kid protocol onto them. In fact there is no protocol the anchingban, or any of the anchingbans there are aware of. There is definitely no existing formal protocol between the school and anchingbans on missing children besides calling the parent. The security guard certainly cant use the MC to call out children, like the principals told me, as anchingban tried to do.
The teacher denied Z was pressured to participate and said she was smart enough to merit being in the Taiwanese language film. Principal still shrugged it off as Z is super cute and smart. At the end it came down to them changing their policy from oral to written consent-which I suppose is a very minuscule victory for me. They said they will change this policy for young kids under 10, and I'm like no, " If they are under 18, they still need parental consent" (for whereabouts or participating in a film), but like most of my suggestions (drills for missing kid) I just got lots of smiling. Just about as much as I expected.
I think them apologizing is about the only admittance of guilt, responsibility I was going to get. I honestly didn't expect anymore. On Monday I let the anchingban owner know what they said about them not following missing child protocol,(ie,basically same as my suggestion for anchingban). They basically were adamant (by repeating) that their protocol for missing children is already in place and hence fool proof and this was a mistake of miscommunication and no written permission slip. They definitely see no need to adapt my suggestions, other than "consider them".
I'm thinking of letting local city council know, not out of any sense of spite or vengeance, I just think my suggestions to improve student safety are the very basic standards of 21st century schools. They drill for earthquakes and fires, but what about a weirdo with a sword, gun, or a film crew. I suggested they do a missing child drill and test how long it takes for a response with their very "in place" system. They smiled.
Obviously no one really gives a crap about what one foreign mom's negative experience at their school. But as some of my Taiwanese friends suggested, they do agree Taiwanese parents would also have a problem with their kid missing for 10 minutes (being filmed without consent is definitely NOT an issue for them). If there is going to be any systematic change it has to be local by parents whose voice matters. As it happens, my friends are a part of the PTA board. I haven't told them about what happened, as I wanted to try and handle it myself first. Now I think I've done about all I can do, short of pressing kidnapping charges. I will let PTA know and I hope they pressure the school and local gov't to adapt some of my suggestions.
Letting local media know what happened and how it was handled is definitely still on the table. Just for the sheer fact that perhaps other parents might feel the same way as me, and that might possibly make the school improve its student safety policy and relationships with the community.--which is all I ever wanted. As if anything could possibly repay me for those 10 eternal minutes of utter terror, other than reunitng with her safe and sound.