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Solitary Confinement for an 8 year old
A letter from a mother, Isabel Christophersen, California


My eight year old son attends a private school in Rancho Palos Verdes.  We were behind on our tuition payment and therefore the school took it upon themselves to punish my child for something that he did not do.  On 5/28/03, I dropped him off at school at 8:35am. School starts at 8:45am, he was immediately sent to the office by his teacher.  My son, thought that he was being sent to the office for arriving to school late.  When he got to the office, he was placed in a room and for the next 3 1/3 hours he sat in that room until he got sick and the school finally called me.  My son told me that the lady that put him in that room told him that he needed to sit still and not talk.  He said it was hot in that room, I have tried to coax him into telling what happened but when I bring it up he gets upset and starts to cry.  From the bits and pieces that I have heard from him, he said he cried for hours.  He said they did not go in and check on him. He said he missed his recess and didn't get a chance to go out and play.  At almost noon they sent him to his classroom to pick up his lunch, which he ate at the office or room as he calls it.  He said a short time later, he got up and went to the lady in the office and asked if it was okay to talk if it was an emergency, he said he felt sick and needed to go the bathroom.  He threw up his lunch and the school finally called me at work.  They did not say anything about him being in trouble, all they said was that he was sick and had a fever.  As it turned out he did not have a fever, but was probably hot from being in this room.  He stated that while in that room they could not see him.  In my mind I think they forgot about him.

I don't know all of the facts, and not until today did I learn that he had actually been in that room crying for a while.  He gets very upset when I bring it up and I am afraid of the effect that this will have on him.

On 5/28/03, I contacted Child Protective services, and they informed me that as this was a private school they have no jurisdiction.  We also attempted to file a complaint with our local police department and they informed us that this is a civil matter.

I again contacted Child Protective services and the woman I spoke with was very helpful.  She claims that my son's civil rights were violated and that I have means of pursuing this matter.  I am not in this for monetary gain, but for the concern of my son and any other child that may be at risk.  I told my son that in September he will be attending a public school, his only reply was "is the same thing going to happen to me in public school"?

Attached, is a letter that I mailed to all parents at the school.  I have received a few replies and some parents have raised other issues that have taken place at this school.  Child Protective services has advised me to contact State Licensing to file a complaint against this school for not having a license.  They also informed me that since this school also runs a daycare by law they must have a license. When the State attempted to locate a license they claim they could not find one.  Unless, it is under a different name and not the name of the actual school.

My question is, have my child's rights been violated? Do I have a means of pursuing this? And if so, what steps do I take.  I think my son may need counseling, so I will be contacting my pediatrician to see what she recommends.  In the meantime, I feel helpless, thinking that I have no rights and that unless I take it to civil court that nothing can  be done to hold these people accountable.

Please call me or send an e-mail at your earliest convenience

Thank you

Isabel Christophersen

See attached letter below....

May 30, 2003

Dear Christ Lutheran Parents:

Below are words expressed by a mother’s concern for her child.
The events that have transpired are true and it happened to my child.
Could your child be next?  If your child attends Christ Lutheran in Rancho Palos Verdes, you need to be concerned you need to look out for your child.

These words are not expressed in anger. These are expressed with sorrow for the wrong that has been brought upon an innocent child by a less than caring staff and principal at Christ Lutheran Church and School. According to Child Protective Services a school or institution must contact the parents of a child within 1-hour of keeping a child out of class.  This school had no intention of contacting us to inform us that our child was not being allowed in class. They had every intention of keeping my son in that office all day.  They just did not count on my child getting sick to his stomach from sitting in a hot room with no food or drink for hours.  My child does not understand why he is not in school.  He does not understand that he will not complete 2nd grade with his friends.  All he knows is that he was punished at school and then got sick and went home.  

How do I explain their actions to my child?  This school is not concerned about this child’s well being.  On 5/28/03, I spoke with the person in charge of the Board of Education at Christ Lutheran.  He informed me that he would speak to the principal and get back to me.  Their concern is so great that to date, they have not had the courtesy of either contacting me or informing me of their position.  All I know is that the Christ Lutheran claims that my child is suspended from school but the school refuses to state this and the reason for the suspension in writing.  They also refuse to give me credit for the time he is not being allowed to be in school.  In my opinion, the school has something to hide.  In my opinion this raises concern.  After all, we entrust our children to their care, but they make their own rules and that scares me. This should raise concern with all parents who entrusts their children to their care.


Imagine you are an eight- year old little boy
You are dropped off at school and proceed to walk to your classroom
Upon arrival, you are sent to the office

You are worried, because you think you are in big trouble
For the next 3 hours you are confined to a room
It is hot in that room, but you are afraid to tell them you are hot
You are afraid to tell them you want a snack

You are afraid to say hey it’s recess time
I want to go out and play
You have your backpack and your water
But, you do not eat the snack in your backpack or
take a drink of your water  
When Mom asked why you didn’t take a drink
You simply stated, “You are not allowed to eat or drink in the office”

You sit in this room and you don’t know why you are there
It is hot and you are thirsty and you are hungry
When Mom asked why you didn’t say something
You simply stated, “You are not allowed to talk in the office”
All you know is that you must have done something very bad
Because you sit and you wait and you wait

Finally, it is lunch time, but you must sit in the office and wait and wait
You are hoping that your punishment is almost over
You are hoping that is time to go home

You are finally sent to your classroom to pick up your hot lunch
Only, it is not hot lunch as it has been sitting there for a while
You are ordered to walk back to the office and eat

You eat your lunch, because you are starving, after all
You missed your recess and snack today
You are still very hot and feel sick to your stomach
You ask the lady in the office if you can go to the restroom

You feel sick and throw up your lunch
Your little nerves couldn’t handle the stress of the morning
The worry of being punished and being in serious trouble
Was just too much for you

But finally, you are free…
Your Mom receives a call at noon- time
Your son is sick and has a fever she is told
Your Dad works 1 1/2 miles from school and rushes to pick you up

We are worried we believe that you are sick
We are concerned that maybe there is something wrong with you
When you get home you are happy you are relieved to be there
You have no fever, but feel quite warm
You rest for a while and play…
You’ve had a rough day
But Thank God you are okay

Your Mommy gets home from work to find out
That not only is her child not sick but her child
Was punished and confined to an office all morning

This punishment was brought on to my son
by people who call themselves educators
by people who call themselves loving Christians

You see my son was punished for a parents delay
We were delayed two payments on our tuition
We tried to work out an arrangement but the school refused
We brought a post-dated check to the office and they refused our check
I did not request for a donation but simply made a request of a four day extension
The school refused “they said, either bring in a cashier’s check or your child is
suspended from school”.

I was shocked I was numb to hear this
This school placed their monetary gain high above a child’s learning
High above child’s well being
It is unbelievable to me that this school would go
to such measures just to be paid

They had no sympathy for the parents
They had no sympathy or concern for the child
Worst yet, they suspend a child and punish him for something he did not do
They refuse to notify the parents in writing, they refuse to give the parents
Credit for the time you will miss from school

A child’s worst nightmare is to be in trouble with school officials
A child’s worst nightmare is not to be allowed to play with his friends
A child’s worst nightmare is to be out of school with nowhere to go

A parent’s worst nightmare
Is to go to work everyday
To work hard to pay for your child’s private school tuition
Only to find out, that in a private school setting
They make their own rules
They can break the law
They can even mistreat your child and call that
A Christian education

As a concerned Parent for my child
I am quite upset at this Christian school for suspending my child
I am quite upset over the effects that their actions will have upon my child
but  most of all I am upset with this school for the torture that was brought upon my child

Imagine you are at a doctor’s office and your doctor is running late
20 minutes go by then 30 minutes go by
Gee, an hour has gone by
The waiting seems like an eternity
You are on edge, but you wait and wait

Imagine being an eight- year old child
20-minutes to you is like an eternity
Imagine 3 hours of punishment
Imagine 3 hours of mental anguish
A child does not understand time
All a child knows is that time for them goes much slower

What Christ Lutheran did to my child is called ABUSE
It is called CORPORAL punishment according to the State of California

The funny thing is that this is what the Christ Lutheran school claims they stand for:

Celebrate Jesus, others and self- God’s way!
Learn to Communicate, solve, work, share and achieve God’s Way!
Contribute to and serve others, our country, and our world with God’s love

Is your child safe at school today?

Imagine your child in a school like mine…

Signed by a Concerned Parent:

aconcernedparent @ msn.com

Jesus Said,
“Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs
to such as these”
Matthew 19:14 NIV

Whoever welcomes one of these little children
In my name welcomes me.
Mark 9:37 NIV


See also

Letter from mother of an 8 year old who was locked alone in a room in school

My writing on ISS iun the USA and "Isolation" rooms in England

Editorial about punishment in schools