'phoned me yesterday. Could I possibly do them a huge favour and come over? They will send someone to get me. There has been an "incident" involving one of the disabled students and he is asking for me because his parents are away. He is staying with his grandparents this week and does not want to worry them immediately.
"What sort of incident?" I ask cautiously.
"Bullying. He's still very upset and this time it is too serious to ignore."
What? This time? Any bullying is too serious to ignore.
I tell them I will pedal over - be there in about 15 minutes because I would rather be independent with respect to transport. I do not welcome the idea of walking all the way from their carpark to the office. It is faster to ride and park my tricycle outside the door. Right.
Kid in question is in his first year there. He was bailed up in the toilet block. They knocked him around, took his crutches and left him to crawl out. He does not know the names of the boys involved and nobody else is saying anything.
The kid looks a mess. His shirt is torn and his trousers are filthy. There is a bruise coming up on his face and, when I get there, he finally admits to a few other bruises as well.
"Cat, I hate it here!" he mutters to me through clenched teeth as the school's first aid officer finishes physically sorting him out. I am sure he does.
Of course the head and the deputy head and a teacher and the teacher who was on duty all want to know what he did to bring it on.
"Nothing. They just don't like me."
"But there must be a reason."
Kid and I look at one another. Yes, there is a reason. It is not one he can do anything about. It is simple. He is different. He knows I understand that but we both doubt the staff do - if they did they would not be asking the question.
The school staff think they have educated the students. There is an anti-bullying programme in place. That may reduce the problem but it will not stop it, indeed it will only cause some of it to go even further underground. This was far more blatant than usual.
I can understand the staff not wanting to admit they have failed but placing the blame back on the kid, telling him he must have done something, is not going to help. I doubt he is at fault. He will certainly not have answered back. He is just there. He is available. He is a target for the frustrations and inadequacies of the others involved.
He has made no friends to date although "some of the kids are okay". What he means is that they leave him alone. He would rather be left alone and lonely. He is worried, indeed more than worried about what his parents are going to say.
"They think I have made it Big Time just being here Cat!" he whispers to me as the head tries to deal with another issue as well.
He thinks he is a failure. We both know he is not. He has overcome huge odds just to get this far. He is in the top third academically but all that could change if the circumstances do not change.
We discuss all this. Inevitably we leave the situation unresolved. When his parents get back there will be another conference. He wants me to be there for that too. I might be old enough to be his grandmother but he believes I understand better than his parents or any of his teachers.
As I leave he says,
"Thanks heaps for coming Cat. Sorry it got too much for me."
He is apologising to me? Will they apologise to him? I doubt it.