Category Archives: Things Fall Apart

Left Behind

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I feel like we have been abandoned, me, Nicholas, and Jazmine that is. 

The very same day of my husband’s death from a heart attack, Eliza’s brother came knocking.  I saw him approaching the walkway and became anxious.  His arrival portended evil.   He was his usual pompus, surly self.  Luckily my aunt and cousin were home with us so I didn’t have to face him alone. 

When my aunt answered the door he demanded to speak with me.  She informed him that I was not feeling up to seeing any visitors so he asked to speak to my husband.  She told him that my husband was not available.  He then asked if he had passed–not your logical follow-up question.  My aunt acknowledged that he did in which he replied, “When he die, a month ago? Did he committ suicide?” 

I was stung by his indecency and began screaming and crying for him to leave.   He yelled that Ethan was his blood and that he carried his last name (he doesn’t).  My cousin ushered him away from the door.  I grabbed the phone and called the police.  I wanted him away from our house ASAP.

When the police arrived he stood outside attempting to manipulate them into believing that he was only there to console his nephew.  He claimed he had no idea that my husband had died.  Two big, burly guys joined his side.  The police  didn’t buy his story especially after eyeing his bouncers and wrote up a trespassing report.  They also put extra patrol in our neighborhood.  The rest of the night him and his sister called without ceasing.  She left many ridiculous messages stating that she only wanted her nephew because I was not “family.”  Wow and ouch was all I could think.  Just a stepmom…

I also received calls from Eliza’s aunt and cousin, who both said that they felt the boys rightfully belonged with me as did the rest of their family.  I asked why the aunt and uncle were behaving like vultures.  Her cousin replied that they probably wanted the money that the boys would draw from his death.  This thought never occurred to me.  The aunt also felt that they were probably carrying out Eliza’s wishes–another troubling thought.  How could Eliza not know how well I cared for the boys?

Monday morning I called the court and informed them of our situation.  The clerk expressed her sympathy and told me that she would do all she could to help keep the kids with me.  She felt that the judge would not want to move them anyhow.  The clerk also told  me to quickly file a document with my intentions.  I had an appointment with the funeral home so I figured I had time to go on Tuesday.  How wrong was I!

Later that evening I got a call from the residential facility saying that  Evan’s aunt and uncle were on their way to discharge him from the hospital.  According to the director, they had valid court papers.  They had went to a probate court judge and was issued an emergency order.  I was dumbfounded, especially considering that our particular case was only to be heard by one judge because he was so familiar with it.  When I broke the news to Evan on Sunday, he was so broken that it was obvious that he was in no condition to leave at such a crucial time.  Evan had asked me to take him home immediatedly, but I was able to convince him to wait until they adjusted his medicine.  I promised that I would pick him up in two weeks.

I called their uncle and pleaded with him not to take him out because he was not at all stable.  He finally relented.  A few hours later he called so that Evan could speak to Ethan.  He lied and had discharged him despite my pleadings!  He then demanded that I hand over his other nephew at almost 12am.  Again, I begged him to wait for a decent hour.  He hung up on me.  A few hours later I heard a lot of banging on the door and saw bright lights  shining into the house.  I became very afraid and called the police.  The operator checked to see if it was the police and determined that it was.

When I opened the door I recognized one of the officers who had been to our house frequently for runs regarding Eliza.  He greeted me and showed me the paperwork.  He seemed bothered that he had to do this particular task.  I had Ethan come out of his bedroom and he looked very scared.  They walked  him down to his new guardians.

I considered fighting them in court, but decided against it.  The probate judge who issued the order died two days after signing the paperwork.  I have been threatened so much that my family and I determined that for our safety I should not.   Their uncle told my SIL that bad things would happen to me if I tried to fight for the kids.   And I know that my husband would not want me living under such fear and pressure. 

It was and still is a difficult decision that I have yet to come to terms with.  I really wanted them here with us.

Two days after the funeral their uncle had the nerve to call and offer his condolences because he said he “liked me!” Once again I became undone as I heatedly inquired why the boys were not allowed to attend their father’s service.  He offered a few lame excuses and I hung up midway through his glib speech.

I have not heard from the boys or  Eliza.  I suspect that they may be in another state with their aunt.   

It’s been a long, hard, mournful month.  Jazmine constantly asks about my husband.  Nicholas has kept pretty quiet.  I don’t think any of us understand, but I do know that we sorely and surely miss all three.

What Was She Thinking?

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            Last night my husband and I happened to turn to the news channel as they were featuring a story about a teacher who allegedly had sex with a student. Can you imagine the shock I felt when they displayed the mug shot of Evan’s teacher?  Evan’s teacher! Mrs. Vasquez, age 37, had been charged with 4 felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor!  Here is an excerpt from the news paper article:

 

Investigators say she allegedly drove a 15-year-old male student to her home in the Castleton area May 1 and had sexual intercourse with him, said Sgt. Matthew Mount of the Metropolitan Police Department.


Vasquez, 37, faces preliminary charges of sexual misconduct with a minor, Mount said.

 

According to a police report, the student told authorities Vasquez first had engaged in flirtatious behavior with him.
The two eventually concocted a plan; the student told police, for Vasquez to arrange to take the student on a special lunch outing that would be described to administrators as a reward for recent improvements in the boy’s classroom performance. The two intended instead to go to the teacher’s home for sex, the boy told police.

 

 

            At the beginning of the year I filed a complaint against the school for not following Evan’s IEP.  One of my many issues was with the teacher, Mrs. Vasquez and her educational practices.  She had a variety of grade levels in one class, and therefore gave ALL of the kids the same assignments.  So while Evan was in 3rd grade and should have been doing 3rd grade work, he was doing 2nd work because she had more 2nd graders than any other grade.  This was confirmed when she had mixed up papers from other students in Evan’s folder. Grades 1-5 were all doing the same worksheets.  When I asked her about this, she acknowledged that she had trouble finding lessons for each grade level.  Her class only consisted of 6 students and she even had the help of an assistant and a therapist; it wasn’t like she was going at it alone.  But the number of students fluctuated often due to students moving, being transferred back to their home schools, being expelled, or like Evan, eventually placed in residential treatment. 

  Nor did she have any classroom management.  She got flustered very easily and was always a nervous wreck.  She used a point system to reward and punish behavior.  However, this was a random practice.  Some days she would use the system and other days she would not.  I asked her to email me his point sheet because Evan was very good at “losing” his.  She emailed me this information maybe once per week when it should have been a daily form of communication.   They did more watching movies and recess than actual assignments. 

My biggest problem with her was that she gave the kids the answers to their work.  When they could not solve a problem, rather than teaching them how to come up with the solution, she would just tell them.  This was done on a regular basis—even on tests.  I figured this out when I would give Evan work to do at home because of course, they never had homework.  I suspect that she did not want to experience the wrath of the volatile children when they could not do their work.  The very same standards that he was mastering at school he could not do in any form at home.  He finally told me that they “shared” work, especially when the students got angry.  Evan even got frustrated with me once because I didn’t “help” him like Mrs. Vasquez.   Overall she was not very consistent in any area—something especially needed when you are working at an alternative school for students with behavior problems.  

            When I requested a case conference, they did not address my concerns about Mrs. Vazquez.  I suppose they did not believe them to be valid because she was one of their own, even though I came well documented regarding my claims.  However, when I filed an official complaint with the department of education, my lengthy allegations were substantiated.  After Evan left for residential treatment, they finally placed her in another class of four eighth grade students.  This is where she met her victim. 

I am left to wonder if maybe this incident could have been prevented had the school been willing to monitor her more closely?  I also wonder if she was ever inappropriate with any of the other students such as my own stepson? It saddens and angers me as both a teacher and a parent that this happened.  I hope with all the hope I can muster that the allegations are just that.