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Parent furious with teacher for sending child home with pet that then died.

Parent furious with teacher for sending child home with pet that then died.

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I (28f) teach at a lower income school here in the states. In the 6ish years I’ve been teaching, I’ve always had animals in the classroom. I think it’s really important, especially for students who can’t have pets.

This year for the animal biology lesson, in addition to having our pet turtle, I decided to invest in hermit crabs.

Prior to the month long unit, I had the kids do reports on animals and used hermit crabs as an example. Then, as the unit was introduced, I revealed the crabs. The kids were sooo excited!

They took turns taking care of them, learned all about them, named them, etc.

After the unit finished, I decided I’d pick three students to take the crabs home. They had to fill out a form, get permission from guardians, and the grown ups had to come to me to get the crabs (all of this cleared with admin of course).

Everything was fine and I chose my more responsible students, spoke with guardians, etc. A week later, one of the students told me something sad happened… her crab died. I sent her to the guidance counselor to walk her through her grief and reached out to her mom to see how I could support her.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? According to mom, I’m a total AH for giving her daughter the pet to begin with. She’s been crying non stop and is devastated beyond belief. It wasn’t my place to give her daughter a pet and I crossed so many lines.

She then complained to admin about me and I had to have a meeting with the principal who told me it was a bad idea. Crabs are fragile and in knowingly inflicted grief on a child and hurt an animal in doing so.

I just wanted to make the unit fun and teach responsibility as well as social emotional skills. AITA?

Edit: the mom came in to pick the crab up and I gave her an information packet along with all the supplies needed. I also let her know that crabs are fragile and warned her it may die and I’d be in touch if she needed me.

I also want to clarify that the parents were aware of the unit and crabs as potential pets BEFORE the permission slips went out. I discussed the unit during conferences because it is a BIG unit. I wanted to see if there was an interest prior to executing the plan, and if not I was going to keep them and use them as classroom pets for years to come.

Edit 2: a lot of you are upset I didn’t provide all the students with crabs. As stated before, it’s not realistic. I provided all the supplies for three crabs and this was one of MANY “giveaways” I do in the classroom. It’s my own dime and my own time.

I do lots of things to motivate my students including pizza parties, teacher for a day, etc. I shower my students in love in ways that are tailored to my students unique interests and needs.

Out of the 22 students I have, only 8 applied for the crabs. Of those, only 4 parents agreed to it. I picked the three I felt most comfortable with.

Can you imagine buying 22 crabs? On a teacher salary?! Y’all are wild!

Edit 3: thank you for all of your love and support. I appreciate your stories and resources. I am very humbled and realize where I f’d up in this situation. I now have a fountain of knowledge on crab care and moving forward will not give out pets. Instead, I’ll maintain a critter corner and provide adequate supervised care. Thank you all again.

From the comments:

blackcherrytomato says:

NTA for the class pets overall.

TA thought for including something that is a very common, anaphylactic allergen. Did you get allergy info for everyone in the class before choosing to have crabs?

imadeathroaway43 OP responded:

😂 It’s legally required. Teachers have VERY detailed profiles on students before they even enter the classroom.

exhauta says:

I totally understand. You can be TA in this situation and still be a good person who had good intentions. I was actually doing some Google searches after commenting and all the top results (often by pet stores of course) said they are great beginner pets. I only really know they suck because I had an obsession with watching pet care videos at one point.

imadeathroaway43 OP responded:

As an educator we’re told to “find more reputable sources” other than YouTube and Reddit. We’re supposed to find journals and studies which very as new information comes to light.

I got overwhelmed because this isn’t part of the lesson plan given by district, this is me “going above and beyond”. I made a mistake and didn’t research the way I should have.

dead-or-asleep said:

NTA

I was so ready to call you TA for giving animals to kids and putting extra strain on parents/guardians with NO warning. Then you mentioned how clearly you went over things with the adults and was relieved. You did nothing wrong. That mom and the principal are AH.

Just as a suggestion for the future have you considered doing a class project on butterflies. Each student could get their own egg/caterpillar, enclosures could be made for fairly cheap in class, and butterflies could be released at school. Just make sure you get a species native to your area.

imadeathroaway43 OP responded:

When I taught second grade we did this! It was so fun.

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