3 1/2 years ago I first raised the issue of illegal fees with my principal. A year ago this past summer I elevated the issue to district level. Our new superintendent asked me to meet with my principal's boss and/or the district legal counsel, and if they couldn't resolve the issue to my satisfaction, that he'd meet with me.
Today I took him up on his offer.
My boss' boss and the district legal counsel both dismissed me, hoping I'd go away. The superintendent welcomed me today by saying that if nothing else, I win an award for persistence. I apologized for taking his time, telling him that his two underlings did him a disservice by refusing to address the issue with me, forcing him to take his time to do so.
It was a very pleasant half-hour. My limited experience with him, and from what I hear from others who have met with him, seem to jibe--he's a very well-meaning, good man. I sensed nothing but sincerity from him.
I certainly didn't point fingers at my principal or my school, as we both know this is a district-wide problem. I made sure to stress that I'm not on some crusade just to cause problems, that I address this problem from three different viewpoints:
1. As a teacher, who's a part of the system that's acting illegally. We enforce all sorts of rules on kids (no cell phones, no gum in class), so we should, as a minimum, abide by the law.
2. As a parent of a student who will be in junior high next year, and junior high is when such fees often start in earnest.
3. As a former high school student in a single-parent household, who couldn't have participated in a number of activities if we'd have had to pay for them.
I offered suggestions on how we might tackle the problem. I told him we don't even need to "eat the entire shark" at once--that we could address the most grievous offenses, fees in classes, first, and next year tackle fees for athletics and cheerleading. Our athletic directors should, however, start addressing the issue now.
I pointed out, though, that if we wait for a lawsuit, we'll lose, and then the fees will stop immediately by court order, throwing entire programs into chaos.
Yes, I compromised, meaning I wouldn't raise a stink if these fees went on for just a little longer as long as there's a plan for eliminating them as soon as possible with minimal chaos.
The next step is his. I'll keep you informed about what happens.