(6) Correspondence Showing Josephsons’ Cooperation & English’s Callousness

(This section contains an extensive series of the correspondence between Anne and Michael Josephson and Elizabeth English and Samantha Coyne Donnel (upper school director). PLEASE READ ALL THESE LETTERS FOR TONE AND SUBSTANCE AND NOTE THE COURTEOUS AND CONCILIATORY COMMUNICATIONS BY THE JOSEPHSONS AND THE CURT AND DISRESPECTFUL RESPONSES OF MS. ENGLISH

Unprofessional and unnecessary infliction of emotional harm re: a minor act of rudeness

In December 2013, C1 was rude to her math teacher. This was reported to both Anne and Michael Josephson by Gretchen Warner (“Ms. Warner”) and both, as they had before, offered their support to the school to determine a proper sanction. They made it clear that they did not condone any act of disrespect.

C1 said she was under unusual stress (response to her early application to Barnard was imminent and she was suffering from the impact of substantial family drama involving her sisters). She accepted responsibility for her inappropriate behavior and, on her own, apologized within a few hours of the incident.

According to Ms. Coyne Donnel (“Ms. Coyne”), C1’s advisor and Director of the Upper School, the behavior was not egregious and C1 had demonstrated accountability. The matter would have been closed but several months before there was a different incident in the library where C1 had talked back to the librarian and was disciplined. At that time she was told that if she acted inappropriately again the matter would be reviewed by a student honor council. A hearing was scheduled to take place just before the winter break but it was cancelled on December 17 by Gretchen Warner (“Ms. Warner”), Dean of Students.I make the rules

Thursday, December 12, 2013 8:40 AM From: Gretchen Warner To: Anne Josephson; MSJ

Dear Anne and Michael,

I want to let you know that we are not able to assemble the necessary number of Honor Education Council members together for a hearing, given the timing around the Winter Concert and final exams.  We are going to move forward with scheduling the HEC hearing after the winter break, which I am optimistic will be helpful for C1, too.  I know that C1 is not at school today, and I will follow-up with her about this when she is back on campus. As you know, Ms. Coyne Donnel will not be able to serve as C1’s advocate in the formal process of the hearing.  However, I know that she will work closely with her and support her throughout the coming days and help her choose a strong advocate. I will stay in consistent communication as we move forward, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Sincerely,

Gretchen

The fact that C1 was not permitted to have her advisor as her advocate reveals one of many flaws in the student judicial process. The structure is an inherently intimidating one. The accused student must explain her actions and demonstrate accountability before up to 12 students, 3 faculty members and one administrator – that’s 16 people scrutinizing the words and body posture of the “defendant” and empowered to affect her future. [6] Mr. Josephson wrote a cordial cooperative response.

________________

December 13, 2013 7:58 AM

From: MSJ

To: Gretchen Warner, Samantha Coyne

Thank you for your thoughtful and sincere efforts in all aspects of this unfortunate situation. I understand that C1 was quite accountable and acknowledged the inappropriateness of her behavior. To me, that is 90% of the success we seek. You may have heard that C1 received notice from Barnard yesterday that she was admitted. This lifts a huge pressure off all of us and I think we all have reason to be proud of her. Archer’s caring guidance has definitely been a positive factor in her growth. I am sure that after a few weeks’ hiatus we will have an even more objective the perspective that will help determine the most effective next steps. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Best to you,

Michael

_______________

The hearing was rescheduled for Monday, January 6 at 2:00pm.  (This is the day before classes resume on January 7).

December 17, 2013 8:20 AM From: Gretchen Warner  To: C1 Josephson

Hi, C1,

I want you to know the HEC hearing has been scheduled for Monday, January 6 at 2:00pm.  (This is the day before classes resume on Jan 7.).  Please plan to arrive to campus with plenty of time to meet your advocate before we begin. I am still waiting to hear from you about who you have chosen as your advocate, so please let me know once your decision is made. I will send another email closer to the date that shares where you and your advocate should meet beforehand. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Sincerely,

Ms. Warner  Dean of Students

Prior to cancellation of the hearing C1, in at least one emotional meeting with Ms. Coyne, tried to persuade her that this process would be highly traumatic for her. She implored Ms. Coyne to consider other sanctions if they were thought necessary. C1 said she just couldn’t participate because she was sure she would break down in front of her peers and that she might have to reveal personal information about her and her family that she felt should be kept private. Ms. Coyne said she would talk with Ms. English but if Ms. English insisted on the hearing she would be suspended or she would have to withdraw from the school if she refused to participate.

Anne Josephson met with Ms. Coyne to discuss her reservations about the appropriateness of the student hearing process as designed. She said she did not oppose additional sanctions against C1 if the school thought they were needed but that requiring an emotionally fragile girl to be confronted and judged by more than a dozen adolescent peers was too harsh for C1. She pointed out various deficiencies and defects in the process, including the likelihood that it would violate HIPAA laws. Ms. Coyne said she would pass on her objections to Ms. English.

During the winter break Ms. Coyne informed Anne and C1 that Ms. English was insistent on requiring the student hearing and she urged C1 to comply rather than risk her entire career at Archer. On December 31, 2014 she sent this letter to C1:

Hi, C1,

I hope you are enjoying the break.  In addition, I hope that the time away from school has afforded you the opportunity to reconsider your participation in the hearing.   While I understand you are concerned about being asked to reveal private family matters, I want to reiterate that there is no expectation for you to do so, nor would you be asked to do so by any of the HEC members.  The process is designed for you to reflect on your actions and take responsibility for your behavior as it relates to the School’s Honor Code; hence, the focus of the hearing will be the incident, itself, and your reaction to Ms. Amaya.

I spoke with Ms. English regarding your concerns, and she reiterated what I told you on Friday when we met.  If you are not emotionally fit to handle a hearing, then we could consider a medical leave with the proper documentation.  The other option would be for you to choose to withdraw.  Both of these options seem like they would be more detrimental than the hearing process, and I am not sure how either would impact your admission to Barnard.  Before you make your decision, I urge you to speak with Keddie. 

Ultimately, C1, I want you to learn from this experience and to find more productive ways to manage your emotions during your final semester at Archer.  I also would like to see you graduate from Archer, as you have grown significantly during your time here and you have worked hard both inside and outside of the classroom. I am happy to discuss further with you this break if you want to talk by phone.

Best,

Ms. Coyne

This letter (which coincided with attempts by both Anne and Michael Josephson to induce her to participate in the hearing process) resulted in a severe emotional breakdown, which included expression of excessive fears of the impending student hearing. The intensity and the duration of the emotions caused C1’s parents to conclude that they needed a professional to diagnose and, if necessary, treat C1’s condition. On Friday, January 3, while Archer was still on winter break (and 3 days before the scheduled hearing), Michael Josephson sent the following letter to Ms. Coyne, informing her that C1 had suffered a severe emotional breakdown and that that C1 would not attend school for the first week (obviously requiring a re-scheduling of the hearing). He also asked for a meeting with Ms. Coyne so he could update her and discuss the new situation and explore when and whether a new hearing or an alternative strategy would be pursued:

 Dear Samantha,

Anne and I know and deeply appreciate how much time and energy you and Ms. Warner have invested in trying to determine how best to proceed with finding a constructive way to deal with C1’s inappropriate conduct including the scheduled upcoming hearing.

We also appreciate your sensitivity and assurance (via you note sent to us and C1 on December 31) that C1 will not be asked to reveal private personal or family information as:  “the process is designed for you to reflect on your actions and take responsibility for your behavior as it relates to the School’s Honor Code; hence, the focus of the hearing will be the incident, itself, and your reaction to Ms. Amaya. 

We also want you to know that we fully support your statement of your objective and approach: “Ultimately, C1, I want you to learn from this experience and to find more productive ways to manage your emotions during your final semester at Archer.  I also would like to see you graduate from Archer, as you have grown significantly during your time here and you have worked hard both inside and outside of the classroom.  You know C1 holds you in the highest regard and these were important qualifications. Frankly, we hoped C1’s anxiety about the hearing would have been alleviated by these assurances.

Unfortunately, when we discussed your letter and the impending hearing with her last night – the first chance we had after the New Year’s activities (I was out of town), we were very disturbed to discover that the immediacy of the hearing triggered an extreme emotional response revealing even deeper anxiety issues than we had realized.

Her emotional reaction was such that we have concluded they must be addressed by a professional before we can allow her to be subjected to what may, despite your good intentions, exacerbate the emotional issues which are causing her great pain and could affect her ability to properly deal with the hearing and, for that matter, her school work. Consequently, we intend to keep her out of school at least for the next few days as we seek professional advice on how to best meet the good intentions of Archer while protecting C1’s mental well-being.

C1 is dedicated to graduating from Archer and we do not foresee any circumstances that will result in our decision to withdraw her from the school or jeopardize her ability to graduate with her class. Thus, we will assure that, to the best of her ability, she keeps up with assigned school work during what we hope will be just a short hiatus in attendance. We will work with you to re-schedule the hearing once we have professional input and shall endeavor to respect the school’s needs and requirements.

We do not know whether, as a result of professional advice, we will seek an official medical leave. We hope not, but if it looks like it is moving in that direction we will seek further information from you as to the requirements and consequences of that alternative.

We sincerely hope you understand our position and that we can continue to count on Archer’s patience and creativity as we find the best way to proceed. Because Anne wants to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest relating to her role on the Board, I will be taking lead on further discussions. I will be happy to meet with you or, if you prefer, talk on the phone, about this any time today or in the afternoon on Monday. Thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding. We are sure that together we will get through this with a positive outcome for all concerned.

Respectfully,

Michael Josephson

Ms. Coyne responded on January 4 (still two days before the scheduled hearing and 3 days before classes resume:

Hi, Michael,

Thanks for your email. I am sorry to hear that C1 is not able to participate in the hearing at this point. I was hoping some time and distance would help to shift her perspective, but it does not sound like that has happened. Yes, let’s connect on Wednesday. What time of day works best for you?

Best,

Samantha

It is important to note that Ms. Coyne did not object to the delay nor say anything about C1 not being able to return to school when she was ready. On January 7, Mr. Josephson sent this email to Ms. Coyne:

Hi Samantha,

I am sorry for not responding sooner. Anne and I wanted to have further discussions with C1 and the therapist she was talking to so we could develop coherent strategy that could work for everyone. At least as of today, C1’s anxiety has not fully subsided but I see progress and light at the end of the tunnel. Clearly, the “hearing” has been blown out of proportion. But it tapped into some much deeper mental health issues that must be addressed both short and long term. Nevertheless, according the therapist, the problem has grown to the level of genuine trauma.

Though the matter is delicate I’m convinced that with the kind of patience and creativity that characterizes your approach, C1 is going to be fine in the end and that she will be able to complete her last semester.

Just recognizing and paying attention to the deeper sources of anxiety that C1 has repressed has already provided a door to constructive problem solving. We have some ideas for moving forward.

Can you and I we meet at either 11am or 3:30-4:00 pm tomorrow? If not I will make whatever schedule changes I can to accommodate your schedule.  

Michael

In a January 9 letter to Ms. English prior to his meeting with her, Michael Josephson elaborated on the reasons why he and Anne had come to believe that requiring participation in the student hearing would be dangerous and damaging and why they thought pursuit of an alternative strategy was essential.

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you for making yourself available on such short notice.  I have been engaged in discussions all morning concerning C1’s situation with particular focus on concerns and questions Samantha raised in our discussion, including the therapist’s willingness and availability to meet with Patty Lancaster as Samantha requested.  As a result, we have an appointment with the therapist this afternoon and C1 has another session with the therapist tomorrow.

 We will ask the therapist to address issues in her session with C1 that will permit her to give a considered opinion on several questions Samantha posed that bear on the school’s consideration of our request for an alternative means of resolving the disciplinary issue that will not require her to appear before the Honor Council.

 We will also ask her opinion as to whether and how long it would take to prepare C1 to believe that she can participate in the student honor council hearing without undue risk of an emotional meltdown.  We are very anxious to resolve these issues as soon as possible as the process is taking a huge toll on C1, Anne and other stakeholders.

The information we will gather in the next few days is essential to give us a more reliable insight as to the emotional risks of the various options discussed with Samantha.  Samantha made it clear that you will be the ultimate decision maker on our request for an alternative means of completing the disciplinary process. Thus, it is essential that we have adequate time – at least 45 minutes – so you have all the information you need and so we can fully understand your perspective and you can fully understand ours in our efforts to achieve a result that meets Archer’s needs without causing C1 avoidable emotional trauma. I think you know we are not trying to immunize C1 from accountability for her rudeness, we are only asking that the process for determining the proper sanction be one that does not raise such fears in her that she might be unwilling or unable to participate.

 After my meeting with Samantha it seemed that some at the school think C1 is merely being headstrong and stubborn and that it is appropriate to force her to choose between participating in the hearing and being forced out of the school and not participating in dance or graduating with her class. The hearing, it would seem it is no big deal and she should just do it. That was my initial position. Unfortunately, as the therapist will document, she has developed such a phobia about the possibility of melting down before peers that if C1 was forced to decide today, she would choose to be forced out of Archer knowing that would be a horrible result. This itself, is pretty compelling evidence of the seriousness of the issue. Of course, her fears are irrational, but that does not make them less real.  In any event, the matters are delicate and complex and the consequences of the resolution can have lifelong impact on C1. Therefore, I respectfully request an in person meeting rather than a telephone call.

To assure your convenience and availability I will clear any prior appointment I can. I will also see if the therapist can be available if you think that would be helpful. I will also meet on the weekend, early morning, or evening if any of those times are feasible.

 Perhaps the best time will be Monday morning – any time before 2 and as early as 6:00 am if you prefer (the only appointment I can’t change next week is a trip to San Diego where I am booked to give a presentation).  Please let me know the best way to find a mutually convenient time.

 Sincerely, Michael

Mr. Josephson met with Ms. Coyne on Thursday, January 9, 2014. Ms. Heather Keddie, C1’s college advisor, was present. During the meeting, Mr. Josephson explained the extraordinary nature of C1’s fragile condition and the failure of his efforts to persuade her that the process would not be as traumatic as she feared. He informed Ms. Coyne that he had spoken extensively with the therapist and she was of the firm opinion that C1 had developed an irrational but sincere phobia about the hearing and that if she were forced to participate it would inflict great and lasting emotional harm.

Mr. Josephson cited the school’s commitment to non-coercive discipline and repeated the criteria Ms. Coyne had sent in terms of the goal of discipline. He pointed out that the student hearing process was purely discretionary and that, clearly, other means of assuring that C1 was accountable for her rudeness could be found to accomplish Archer’s disciplinary goals. Ms. Coyne was sympathetic but she said Ms. English expressly instructed her that she could not discuss any alternatives to the student hearing.

Mr. Josephson indicated the long-term emotional and mental well-being of C1 was at stake and that the hearing process had turned into a sanction itself, rather than simply a means to determine the proper sanction for conduct C1 had already apologized for. Ms. Coyne repeated that she had no authority to discuss other options.

Mr. Josephson asked Ms. Coyne whether the school was prepared to insist on imposing the hearing over the objection of the parents who had been advised by a mental health professional that subjecting C1 to the process could cause deep and lasting injury. He asked what the reaction of the school would be if, based on this professional advice, he instructed C1 not to participate. He indicated that forcing her to go against a professional expert’s advice or withdraw was not right or legal and that if that was the ultimate position they would have to consider seeking relief from a court.

Ms. Coyne also informed Mr. Josephson that Ms. English had also decided that C1 was not going to be allowed to return to school until she first participated in the student hearing. Mr. Josephson protested and asked for the basis and authority for suspending C1 before the hearing. He pointed out that neither C1 nor her parents were given any notice of this requirement and that he thought it was unfair, wrong and probably illegal.

Ms. Coyne reiterated she had no authority to alter the position of Ms. English and said he would have to take up his case directly with her. They both expected that the meeting would take place the next day (Friday) and that the issue of the suspension would also be discussed.

Ms. English was not available for a Friday meeting so the meeting was set for 11:00 AM Monday January 13.

In the interim C1’s therapist prepared a comprehensive written report and asked if she could attend the meeting to explain her findings and recommendations, including alternative ways to deal with the underlying disciplinary issue. Mr. Josephson and Ms. English exchanged several e-mails during which Ms. English denied the request to allow the therapist to attend. She indicated that she asked Scott Lord, a Board Member and a lawyer, to attend the meeting.

It turned out the meeting was a sham. At the outset, when Mr. Josephson asked Ms. English what her goals were for the meeting, she said her purpose was to personally reiterate the position she had conveyed through Ms. Coyne, that she doesn’t negotiate with parents, that she expects full support for her decisions from parents, and that, irrespective of the opinions of C1’s parents and the mental health professional, she thought the hearing would be good for C1. Mr. Josephson’s efforts to seek a different solution were summarily rejected.Nurse Ratched I can't let people

In view of the fact that Ms. English had no intent to consider any alternatives or seriously discuss the opinion of C1’s therapist, the following stream of emails reveals the intent of Ms. English to harass and punish Mr. Josephson by leading him and Anne to believe otherwise.

January 9, 2014   From: Elizabeth English To: MSJ

Dear Michael, 

Thank you for following up.  I can be available on Monday, January 13 between 11:00 and 1:00. Ms. Coyne will be joining us as will Scott Lord, a member of the Board of Trustees. The reason for Scott’s joining us is the legal overture you made during your meeting with Ms. Coyne. Please let Maria Servello know if any time in that window works for you. Her email is mservello@archer.org. In the meantime, I hope things go well with C1 and her therapist. I look forward to talking with you.

Elizabeth
__________ 

January 9, 2014  From: Anne Josephson To: Elizabeth English

Dear Elizabeth,

I suspect you must be aware of what is going on with C1 as Michael mentioned to me that the two of you will be speaking later today. I am just dropping you a note to let you know that I am remaining at arm’s length on this not because I don’t care or have an opinion, but rather because I take my role as a trustee seriously and am respectfully following the advice to allow the other parent to deal with issues of discipline at the school.  

As my friend and as someone I know cares deeply about C1, I do want to tell you that I am very concerned with the amount of psychological pain C1 is and how much she has been holding in regarding her anger and anxiety about her sisters’  depression [other family matters]and our divorce.  It’s easy to conclude given her obstinate personality that this is a battle of wills that C1 has entered.  And, because of her marvelously developed defense mechanisms, there are moments it reads that way.  However, once you can get past that layer of defense, what is left is a very fragile, terrified, anxious and traumatized kid who has been tamping down very large feelings, including tremendous worry that one of her sisters will kill themselves, and pretending that everything is ok.  I share this with you not by way of creating a justification for her poor behavior but rather to give you context of where she is right now.

As you can imagine, the past couple weeks have been the capstone on what has been the worst 18 months in my life.  I think you know how much I love Archer and the thought that C1 wouldn’t graduate with her class makes me sick.  (literally, I have lost 10 pounds since all of this has happened–small silver lining, I guess.) I hope your discussion with Michael goes well and that you can find a resolution that is respectful to both the needs of C1 and the school.  

Sincerely, Anne

_________

Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 5:30 PM From: Michael Josephson To: Elizabeth English, MSJ wrote:

Dear Elizabeth,

I am very grateful you were able to make the time to allow us to present the facts and considerations that we think justify our request for an alternative disciplinary process. Though I see no reason at all to talk legal options at this meeting, I think it is a very good idea to have Mr. Lord present. We have known his family for a long time and Anne speaks very highly of him.

Samantha and I discussed Anne’s and my concern that this particular disciplinary process at this particular time in the life of C1 creates a significant risk of lasting trauma. What we learn tomorrow after C1’s therapy session will we help us formulate our final position. I do not know whether she will be available, but do you object if C1’s therapist joins the meeting to answer your questions?

 Samantha mentioned that it would be important for the therapist to talk directly with Patty Lancaster. In the hope we can resolve all issues Monday, I wonder whether it would be wise to have Patty Lancaster present as well? I know you would not require the student hearing if you believed it could cause C1 serious harm but that granting an exemption on mental health grounds must be done only upon presentation of credible and persuasive evidence. Is there anything beyond a letter from the therapist (or her direct testimony, if you prefer) and a meeting with Patty that you would need to make your determination? Do you want her statement in affidavit form? Would you need a second opinion? Do you want C1 to speak to a therapist of your choosing? Though we would prefer to not cause C1 further stress and anxiety we are willing to cooperate with you to assure you have sufficient information for your decision.

Finally, I know Anne is deeply concerned with how these issues are handled and resolved but feels that because of her status a member of the Board of Trustees that she should recuse herself. I would like to induce her to be present so you can hear her perspective and she can hear yours. Do you believe it would be appropriate for her to do so without compromising her role a board member? If not, I’m certain she will elect to keep her distance.

Sincerely, Michael

________

Friday, January 10, 2014 10:20 AM

From: Elizabeth English To: MSJ

Hi, Michael –

Thank you again for following up. Anne should most certainly join us if she would like to. There is no need for either C1’s therapist or Ms. Lancaster to attend the meeting. I’ve attached a copy of our release form so that C1’s therapist can speak with Ms. Lancaster directly. The sooner that can happen, the better. Just in case you have not already had a chance to review these documents, I’ve attached copies of our Student/Parent Handbook (Honor Code and Constitution pp. 28-29, 63-68) and your Enrollment Contract. I look forward to meeting with you and Anne on Monday.

Sincere regards, Elizabeth

Please note that while both Michael and Anne Josephson were explicit in expressing their belief that the purpose of the meeting was to allow Mr. Josephson to present alternatives and that the information from the mental health professional would be relevant if not determinative, Ms. English never indicated that her goal for the meeting was only to reassert her previously stated conclusions. We believe this was extremely manipulative and disrespectful and designed to frustrate and harass Mr. Josephson. But there is more.

Friday, January 10, 2014 12:54 PM, MSJ wrote:

Hi Elizabeth,

Anne may still decide not to attend our meeting but I will convey to her your opinion that it would not be an inappropriate conflict of interest for her to do so. Thank you.

Thank you for sending me copies of the student manual, I am quite familiar with the provisions you refer to but I appreciate your courtesy. Can Patty meet with C1’s therapist, Dr. Esparce, Monday morning prior to our 11 am meeting (she will come to Archer) so you will have the benefit of the information which is crucial to our request? The professional opinion of Dr. Eileen Escarce regarding C1’s current mental state and the potential impact of a student hearing are central to our belief that an alternate process to determine appropriate discipline would better meet the needs of C1 and Archer. Dr. Esparce just completed another diagnostic session to provide the basis of her opinion. [7]

Michael

——–

Friday, January 10, 2014 4:44 PM  From: Elizabeth English To: MSJ

Hi, Michael –

I’ve been downtown for a meeting all afternoon and just saw your email.  I called Patty to see if she is available on Monday morning.  Unfortunately, she has gone home for the weekend.  I think the best thing to do is have Dr. Esparce call Patty and leave her number.  That way Patty can call her on Monday morning as soon as she has a chance.  Patty’s number is 310-873-7033. Please return the signed release form to me via email so that Patty is at liberty to talk with Dr. Esparce.  Many thanks,

Elizabeth

What was the point of all this if Ms. English had no intention of considering the outcome of such a meeting?

Sunday, January 12, 2014 2:07 AM, MSJ wrote:

Hi Elizabeth,

Sadly it seems nothing is as simple or easy as one thinks it should be. I am responding so late because I spent the day moving Samara into her new dorm at Loyola (and related emotional stuff relating to starting in a new school with a new major).

Re: the meeting between Dr. Esparce and Patty. I did initially think one was needed because the objective was to let Patty, as your representative hear and question Dr. Esparce as to her opinions on C1’s current emotional state and the potential impact of forcing her to participate in a student hearing to determine her sanction for misconduct in December. Nevertheless, since you asked, I intend to seek C1’s consent.  I did not have a chance to approach her about it yet. This sort of communication is more delicate than one would imagine.  

You are far more familiar with adolescents and their defense mechanisms than I am but I find it hard to deal with the emotional roller coaster. Most of the time C1 seems fine to me. Thank God, she is eager and anxious to get back to school and she is interacting positively with her friends.  But when I try to direct her to any aspect of the upcoming meeting and your impending decision on our request for an alternative process of determining the sanction for her inappropriate behavior, she becomes so anxious that she either shuts down, melts down or refuses to deal with it.

Although she understands that if she does not participate in the student hearing that we have been told she will be forced to withdraw from Archer. I can’t even fathom the short and long term impact of being denied the opportunity to graduate with her class not dance with her classmates, and perhaps to lose her admission to Barnard. I pressed her very hard “to suck it up and just do it” and though Anne and I tried to convince her that this alternative is far worse than whatever may happen during a hearing, she says she simply “can’t.”

Elizabeth, you know Anne and I are very familiar with C1’s stubbornness and I have typically been very hard on her when I think her actions are wilful. We are at this juncture in the process because, this time I truly believe this is not wilful stubbornness but an emotional crisis that must be handled with great sensitivity. On balance, it could be positive as this is the first time C1 has ever asked us to get her therapeutic help but this crisis occurs at the worst possible time.

Over my great initial resistance, I now understand her notion of “can’t.” It is as if she feels she is a volcano that will disintegrate if all the emotions she is struggling so hard to control uncontrollably erupt. I am not talking about anger I am talking about excruciating humiliation and fear. So this is the context of a request for her permission to allow Patty to talk with Dr. Esparce (further complicated by the fact that C1 thinks that ever since Patty “kicked her out” of her class that Patty has firm and negative opinions about her and I suspect she will think allowing the discussion will be just one more nail in her coffin). Please understand I am merely talking about C1’s perceptions since her mental state is the crucial point here.

Sorry, for all the detail, but this issue has literally consumed me and Anne for weeks. As the authority and responsibility of handling the situation has been given to me, I feel burdened with the knowledge that the outcome of Monday’s meeting truly may be one of the most important events in C1’s life. If that sounds like hyperbole, just think about the chain of events that may flow from it. To give her the best chance of a good result, I am committed to doing anything and everything I can to be sure you have all the information you need to justify a decision to grant our request to collaboratively find an alternative means of determine the sanction for her past misconduct.

I will have a letter from Dr. Esparce and I may ask her to join me on Monday. (I will be talking with her today)  Is the meeting with Patty essential to your decision? If it is I will do everything I can to get C1’s permission so a meeting can occur Monday or at their earliest mutual convenience. It is so important for C1’s sake that we reach a resolution as soon as possible and will do anything and everything I can to be sure you have the information you need. Thank you for your understanding,

Michael

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