Just contacted my "union" for the first time

Discussion in 'General Education' started by gr3teacher, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Sep 21, 2014

    (Union in quotation marks because Virginia is a non-union state, so I think it's officially a trade association)

    Long story short... I have a parent in my room with a long history of bullying teachers, staff, and administration at multiple schools, and here it is, fourteen school days into the year, and I'm already tired of dealing with it. Between receiving several long lists of demands (including multiple contradictory demands such as keeping the student in one seat, and also moving the student's seat to the precise spot of the parent's choosing), being verbally attacked for 35 minutes at Back to School Night, and (confirmed) instances of the parent attempting to "poison the well" against me to other parents.

    Fortunately, my administration has my back, and the other parents seem to taking what the parent is saying with a grain of salt, but there have already been threats of going to upper level administration, or the courts, if I do not meet every demand in a timely manner (I received an email Thursday night with a specific demand for Friday morning, and got a scathing email Friday night when that demand was not met).

    I'm not one to go to my union. I pay my dues in order to CYA, but I've never had reason to go to them before. I also do my best to meet parent requests, or work to find a satisfactory compromise, but this is already overwhelming to me. I don't know if the union can do anything, but if nothing else, I'm hoping they can provide a representative to attend parent-teacher conferences... if I can even make it that far without my administrator shutting down parent/teacher communication. Last year, my principal pulled the plug on this parent contacting the teacher directly during the second week of school... so I've at least made it a week further.
     
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  3. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    We've had several instances where admin had to intervene and become the primary parent contact. Our first step is usually that the team leader handles all communication, and then we resort to admin if necessary, but I'm in a middle school. I am sure that a majority of other parents are well aware of the drama that continually surrounds this parent so don't worry about that too much. Keep copies of all communication as well as your response to it and keep the P in the loop. Copy them on email if they are ok with it.
     
  4. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    I'm sorry you are going through that. I wish these parents would homeschool their kids since they think they know everything. I had a parent lecture me last year about how I was doing psychological damage to her child, which she could say for certain since she was a therapist. I googled her and found out she was not a therapist, but answered phones in a counseling office at a college. It is amazing how delusional people are when it comes to their kids.
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    No parent should ever have the right to abuse a teacher. I have been blessed with Ps who take a strong stand against teachers like this. We had a teacher in tears due to a parent, and the P made it clear to the parent that won't happen again. Parents who are bullies must be stopped. Keep your admin, up to date with her abusive behavior. You don't need to put up with that.

    I am glad you are speaking to your union. Nomatter people's opinions on unions, they are very skilled in knowing school law and how to handle difficult situations.

    Sorry you are going through this. Irrational parents will be...irrational. Good luck to you.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You are owing everything right...continue to jeep your admin in the loop and ask for advice on how to et hande...jeep all responses...definitely et your association know what's going on...I think every district has a few of these kinds of parents...best to accommodate them as best as you can without sruption to instruction or compromising your school/personal philosophies.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You are doiing everything right...continue to keep your admin in the loop and ask for advice on how to best hande...keep all responses...definitely let your association know what's going on...I think every district has a few of these kinds of parents...best to accommodate them as best as you can without disruption to instruction or compromising your school/personal philosophies.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    When it is time to have a conference with the parent about the students education, I would recommend having admin present. In fact admin should be present as much as possible for face to face conversations with parents like this.
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    It's good that you are taking that step. Hopefully, they will at least be able to give you some direction and the benefit of their experience. I'm sorry you are having to deal with all this....like the job isn't stressful enough. :rolleyes:
     
  10. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I think my principal would be upset you went to the union before you gave him the opportunity to handle it. It undermines him and makes him look bad to the district if you lodge a complaint. Now, if he wasn't doing anything and you felt threatened, that is another matter. Document everything.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Given the number of times my administrator dropped the word "union" when we talked on Friday, I don't think she'll be overly offended, but when I emailed, I did it anonymously though an anonymous email account, and primarily just asked for information.
     
  12. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    I'm just curious...what were you being verbally attacked about? What kind of demands is this parent making to where you just can't say no?
     
  13. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    It was primarily regarding assessment policies. The parent wants the child to know their scores immediately, while my policy is that students don't find their scores immediately. There was more to it than that, but that's primarily what that particular day was.

    The demands themselves aren't so bad... individually. If a parent asked for a student to be moved, I'd do it when reasonably possible. It's the sheer number of them, the tone behind them, the immediacy behind them (You will do this in the morning before the students arrive, and you will be done when my child enters the room- exact quote) plus the thinly-veiled threats to go to the superintendent (of one of the largest districts in the county) or other high-level administration, citing bullying and harassment on MY part.
     
  14. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Sep 22, 2014

    We deal with this with some parents at my private school- because you know they're paying $$$ to go there and expect to have their needs met and I don't know anything as an educator so I should just listen to them ;) (yeah I've had parents tell me that)

    We have one parent who is starting to harass/bully a new social studies teacher- she even decided to throw me under the bus in her first message to this teacher (saying "I guess you're taking the science teacher's approach to assessing, which I don't agree with"). I talked to her about it a few years ago, explaining my teaching philosophy and methods to her detail-by-detail, never got a response back, so I assumed it was taken care of. Apparently not... but what I hate so much is that she's so sweet to you face-to-face, but stabs you in the back like this. So yes, she has a reputation by now- we will be discuss her at our next level meeting so that our ss teacher knows how to handle her and our admins can decide if they should step in right now and tell her to stop.

    It's great that you're doing what you can to make her feel supported, but I would hate that she is making statements about when you should handle something. For me- when I have parents like that, I make sure that I do not email out of school hours (8 am to 3:30 pm) so make a point that I will handle their "issue" when I can but in a timely manner (within 24-48 hours). Perhaps your P could ask her to please not make comments on when you should handle the issue- that's just rude :(
     
  15. Rox

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    Sep 22, 2014

    Your worksite is required to provide you with a harassment-free workplace. Document, document, document, then tell administration, then tell HR. It doesn't matter if she is a parent. She cannot be harassing you at your place of work.

    One solution is that all communication must go through your administrator.
     
  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    does your school/district have a policy about communication and timeframes for returning calls/emails?

    With the parents that like to email/demand just a little too much, I use the 48 hour rule. I will respond within 48 hours of READING a parent's email. And I am obligated to check my emails first thing in the morning and before I leave work. The less accessible I am, the less they contact me. It takes a little while, but they get used to the idea that I'm not at their beck and call and back off.
     
  17. Ponypal

    Ponypal Comrade

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    Sep 23, 2014

    I'm so sorry. I feel for you. I am having a similar experience going on.
     
  18. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I check my e-mail way too often and will often reply even if it is outside of the hours...but the moment that communication seems to be getting tense (I'm being accused / there is some kind of argument, etc...), I immediately pass on word to the principal/administration. This happened last year, and I let them know so that they could be a part of the communication process. She supported me and acted as an intermediary, including spending time meeting with the parents to discuss the issue. Definitely include administration as soon as possible and make sure all communication is cc'd to them.
     
  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    So here we are, a month and a half later. I have full documentation of absolutely everything I've done in the classroom this year. Mom just filed an OCR against my school and 8 teachers in the school. Among the complaints from the past six months, is a complaint that I discriminated against the student because I didn't let the student take an assignment home to work on it prior to a pre-determined date. Specifically, we had done an in-class project where students had a week to work in class. After a week, I allowed students to take home their projects to add finishing touches and to practice for a presentation. Mom maintains that I allowed other students to take it home early to work.

    Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for mom), one of the options students had was doing a PowerPoint presentation, and working on the assignment at home required me emailing it to parents. I have email trails from 10 different parents all confirming that the first time they could work at home was the time I specifically said... including a parent who asked for it early, that I told to ask me again at the appropriate time.

    All the complaints are completely bogus (that is the only one that applies to me, but there are eight others from either the summer or the last two months of second grade), but it's still frustrating. She's filing an OCR complaint against another school too for a different student, and is already talking lawsuit.

    I never thought I'd end up in a situation like this. I'm glad that my hands are completely clean of everything, but being in this situation sucks. I've requested that the student be placed in a different classroom, but unless mom requests a change, that won't happen. I have even been told I can't stop mom from "volunteering" in the classroom. The closest thing I have to protection is having admin approve any emails before I send them.

    Thank god for having due process rights though, if she ever actually gets somebody at the school board to listen to her.
     
  20. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    If you don't have work for her to do, let her "volunteer" elsewhere. I sure wouldn't want her in there.
     
  21. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Preventing her from volunteering would be retaliation, which is a big no-no.
     
  22. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    But you can decide what she can and cannot do while volunteering. If she is a disruption, call the office and have her removed.

    She can organize the reading books according to your design. She can't talk to you or about you while you're teaching. If she approaches you, remind her that she is there to work on the books and you are not available for a conference at that time.
     
  23. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Why would a parent who is so upset with the school that she files a legal complaint be allowed to even be in the school? She should have been banned long ago.
     
  24. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

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    Exactly!

    but I find we have too many schools/districts afraid of and supporting parents as opposed to their employees/teachers....so teahers need to keep a paper trail to cover their behinds because the school may throw them under the bus to save themselves.
     
  25. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Because that would be retaliation.

    But, honestly, if she has a decent lawyer, they would recommend that she not go to the school unless it is necessary (i.e. the child is ill). For everything else, the lawyer would recommend that they be present.
     
  26. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I disagree with the retaliation scenario. The P has the right to ban any disruptive person who presents a danger to the school population. This P is not doing their job.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Agreed.
     
  28. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I wholeheartedly disagree.

    We reserve the right (actually, we are obligated) to put our children's and teachers' safety first. We can (and do) ban parents from our campus if they're interfering in any way. I have a duty to make certain that they're not causing trouble. Teachers' and students' instructional minutes are sacred and shouldn't be spent dealing with crazies.

    We had to involve the police regarding a situation where a parent told me he'd be waiting for me after school.
     
  29. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Has the mom volunteered in your classroom previously?
     
  30. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Yes, she has volunteered for two events with multiple other parents. For both of them, after the event, she sat in a chair in the back with a notebook and wrote down every word I said for about an hour afterwards. It was extremely creepy... and apparently she just made up stuff, since she is claiming I said things that I didn't actually say (ie: due dates for assignments, etc)
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is a very difficult situation. I feel for you grade3, stay positive, dot your i's and cross your t's and it will be over soon.
     
  32. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I hope so. I met with a district representative today with over 500 pages of documentation. They assured me that I was completely in the right (and also mentioned that I should consider law school), but it's still difficult being in such a contentious situation, especially when I don't see how I could have done anything to prevent it (and given that she has threatened lawsuits against literally every classroom teacher that any of her three children has had, I'm tempted to say that there IS nothing I could have done to prevent it). I mostly feel bad for the kiddo. I'm afraid that at some point she will think that I don't like her, because I am extremely careful before I say anything to her. More than once, I've written down exactly what I needed to say before talking to her :(
     
  33. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Do you think CPS needs to be involved?
     
  34. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    For what?

    It isn't like gr3 has seen bruises on the child or other negligence. Calling CPS would be retaliation.
     
  35. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Of course, if it would be a safety issue, then the district/admin has the right to forbid whoever is necessary to ensure safety.

    But you cannot go "Hey, you filed a complaint (even though in this case it sounds grossly unwarranted and it'll be thrown out quickly) against us, now you can't come to the school."

    If admin is insisting she be allowed to volunteer, make sure all parents are notified in writing (email?) that right after any events they volunteer for, they must leave the classroom so instruction can proceed as normal - perhaps there is a district policy for such?
     
  36. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Yeah, that is creepy.

    Since she's not disruptive though, it would only add to her discrimination claims if she was barred from volunteering.

    I might consider voice recording your classroom while she's there. Sorry you have to contend with a nutcase.
     
  37. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I think her history as quoted in this thread makes me wonder about her mental stability...hence makes me concerned for her children. You don't need to see bruises to call cps.
     
  38. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Sure you could call cps, but holy crap, you just upped the ante.
     
  39. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I was actually thinking that these steps (banning from school, contacting CPS, whatever else) were choices that should have been implemented years ago when she first became disruptive. So much time has passed and she has been allowed to continually harass the schools and teachers that, yes, it would seem like retribution now.
     
  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I know you don't have to see bruises to call CPS. Heck, you can call CPS just for the heck of it and imply abuse for just about anything.

    Exactly what shows the parent is unfit to the point of needing the children removed from the home. I had not seen any post that made me feel that the parents actions warrant the student being removed from the home. Obviously I am missing the immensely offending post that points to severe mental instability that warrants the removal of children.
     
  41. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oh, I think she's looney tunes from what has been posted. So I can see the concern about her mental stability and ability to care for a young child. Not enough concern from what I've seen to warrant a call, but enough that if I were the teacher I'd be paying a bit more attention.
     

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