Friday, November 25, 2005

Am I Right To Be More Than A Little Perturbed Here?

Last Thursday, a week before Thanksgiving, I got a frantic call from my son's mother. "Do you have school tomorrow?" "Yes, of course. Why?" "Because he says he doesn't." Hmmmm. Nine year old boy says there's no school on Friday. "Can you go check the marquee at the school?" Since the school is at the end of my street, I walked down there and checked. The last thing mentioned on the marquee was the day off for Veteran's Day, the previous Friday.

I went online and checked the district's calendar. Sure enough, there it was--elementary schools were out on the 18th for a teacher work day. And yes, I'm sure we were given the school calendar back when school started in August. But am I right to be more than a little perturbed here at the lack of a reminder?

A neighbor who lives across the street from the school, and who is heavily involved at the school, told me that he heard about the day off from a bus driver. Does this sound right? He also told me that next week, the week after Thanksgiving, is an entire week of minimum days due to parent-teacher conferences. That is definitely not on the school calendar. Am I right to be more than a little perturbed here at the lack of communication?

Several weeks ago I got a call in my classroom--my son's school had called and needed to speak with me. So I tried to call back immediately and could not navigate their voice mail system to talk to a real person. I went down to the office at my own school, knowing our secretaries are no strangers to this system--and they couldn't, either. So I sent three emails to the school--one to the principal, one to the secretary, and one to the school's generic email address--hoping that at least one person in the office would see an email and respond. It's weeks later, and I'm still waiting. Over an hour later I was able to get through on the phone and was told that their phone system sometimes has the problems I encountered. Now, I can't blame the principal for messed up phones at any given time, but am I right to be more than a little perturbed here that I couldn't establish contact with anyone at that school at all for over an hour? that they didn't even answer emails?

Given these three incidents (school called, no school on the 18th, minimum days next week) I sent an email to the principal outlining my concerns. Am I right to be more than a little perturbed that she didn't respond to me last Friday (during her school's teacher work day)?

I know what I have to do. I have to go there and talk face to face. It's a tight rope to walk, being a teacher in the district and also a parent. You have to be careful which hat you wear in such meetings. But I'll do it, because there's a serious communication problem at that school. I wonder how many parents don't know about the minimum days next week, and haven't taken any steps to ensure their kids are supervised once school gets out.

Am I right to be more than a little perturbed here?

Update: The information about next week's minimum days is up on the marquee today. But it wasn't there on the last day of school last week, when parents could see it. I'm not even sure it was there Friday.


EdWonk said...

Any principal who ignores a parent's concern does so at their peril. Except here in our district, where no administrator has been fired or laid-off in 12 years, in spite of several well-publicized instances involving parents and extremely bad judgemenet on the part of the administrator concerned.

Our Superintendent, Dr. Evil, does a good job of protecting his minions from the wrath of parents while he exercises "0 tolerance" for classroom teachers.

Dan Edwards said...

The principal of your son's school should NOT view you as a teacher of the district if you are there about your son. IF she does, imo, then it needs to brought up with her boss.

Hopefully, your district is not vindictive like mine. I once spoke up as a parent at a board meeting and blasted the board
regarding events that also had to do with the teachers of the district (of which I am ). I ended up with a letter in my personal file based on a single parent complaint which the administration chose to NOT notify me or even communicate with me. The (*&^% union was not helpful either, but that is another story.

Darren said...

I've been told not to expect much from this principal.