I remember Catharine's post too and agree something must be done. Meeting teachers seems not to work from our experience. Firstly, my teacher friend whacked a child during the year one of our daughters was in his class. It was, incidentally, in front of one of his own children that year. Our little one told us. Next time I was having a beer with him I broached the topic. I pointed out that it is against the law to which he responded by saying that when children step over the line then there is no other choice, that is what was done in his time, etc. I took a ridiculous chance and asked if the law should turn a blind eye when people became so poor they found it easier to steal than ask for social security cover. He instantly said of course not. So I threw back the fact that striking children is against the law and therefore he had broken that law. He sulked for a couple of weeks. My OH had a similar go at him, he did the same with her. But he got over it. Talking to us since he said that French parents do not challenge on such issues because that it what they got in their time. My response was to explain how our headmaster had a selection of different canes and a dozen of the thinnest one that I received several times was hell, that all teachers had canes or gym shoes, that prefects had the right to carry out various kinds of physical punishment so we needed to be tough if we were not going to be a timid, quiet sheep at school - which I was not. For all of that I do not justify physical punishment of any kind or let it go, that the law forbids it is for good reason and if teachers do not comply then the local maire, the rectors and inspectors will receive written complaints to that effect. That includes it happening to anybody else's child. He looked sheepishly at my OH who said that her signature would be on the complaint along with the other people who do not let these things go. I suspect he values friendship above losing his temper at work, so seems to have not done it again.
It is not always foreign antipathy. We get to hear about our own children. Some of these teachers have particular children they victimise. Children tend not to tell parents unless there is the kind of relationship with offspring you, Catharine and James and we have with children. Many people seem not to. Ask your daughter if anybody else gets bad treatment? If so, try to get together with their parents and discuss it. You might well find at least one set of parents on your side. If it is just your child and prejudice then start by going to see the school director to discuss the matter but finish it with a gentle threat of how high your complaint(s) will go if no action is taken. If nothing happens then a formal complaint in the customary registered letter with receipt form to rector and inspector.
We are part of two actions at present where the school is doing nothing to solve a crisis caused by a violent child who has mental health problems that have even led to the teacher being hit and left with a long term nagging injury. The classroom assistant has been off sick all of this year although has been seen out shopping in apparently good health. The school says it cannot replace her although they are obliged to have her to keep an eye on that boy. He has bullied one of our daughters and nobody acted for children like her. One girl has now been, it appears, sexually assaulted by him. So a group of parents has complained to the regional inspectorate. Because we are part of another complaint about the school that we organised the directrice has now called us in. Tuesday at 0900 we are summonsed to her office. We shall both go and will lay all cards on the table, the two things we are part of and all others we know of. She knows we are specialists in the study of childhood, are 'experts' in children's rights and that OH is very conversant with both child abuse and education and imagine she wants to try threatening us. One of us will carry a voice recorded, transcribe the meeting and copy the recording and if necessary send them to the inspectors.
The point of this account is that schools imagine themselves being above the law. The teacher in Catharine's account is rather typical and bearing in mind that there have been far worse things happen to children than we are discussing, they rarely get fired. they are functionaries for life. They know it and feed on it. I do not want to make this into an anti-French rant or an indictment of education, but the fact is that there are laws that are flouted far too often. Prejudices are accepted for no good reason and action hard to achieve, however the act of complaining shows how serious you are although the chances the inspectors or rectors will act are low. However, as said, ask around and find out if it is the teacher's attitude toward more children and go for collective complaint. As for the lazy teacher, you are stuck. It seems that inspectors announce visits, teachers have the right to refuse them access to their class but they tend to tidy up their act for the inspection and go back to normal next day.