On Sunday, November fourth and again on Monday morning, November fifth, I received an email from a very concerned parent. Actually, the email was also sent to my principal and our school guidance counselor as well as our special educator. This parent communicated concerns around her child's emotional well-being. She also communicated concerns around bullying. I responded to the parent's emails on Monday morning around 7:00 AM. I wanted to give the parent some feedback and I didn't want to begin my school week with this email hanging over my head. I responded to her concerns the best that I could. At the time of my response I did not have answers to her questions. I still don't. I shared my observations.
The parent wrote back, conveying her frustration but thanking me for my thoughtful response. I got the sense that she was truly thankful but frustrated by the situation. I get it.
No one else responded.
We received another email yesterday. This one was brimming over with frustration because the principal and guidance counselor didn't respond. I can see both sides. When I responded, I included everyone in my response. The team has discussed this child and her struggles continuously over that last handful of weeks. When I sent my response to all, I am sure that they inferred that I had responded on behalf of the team. I see the mom's point too. She had specific concerns around social-emotional health and bullying. She expected that the guidance counselor would weigh in on the social-emotional piece and the principal would weigh in on the bullying piece. It is not entirely unreasonable for her to feel this way. She emailed us all. No one was cc'd. The email was sent to all.
I've been that parent once. I wrote an email after a very difficult IEP meeting for my son. My email shared my very real concerns about the limited safeguards put into place for tier two students at the middle school. I hit send and waited. The email was addressed to the director of special ed, the team chair at our middle school and the principal of the middle school. I cc'd the superintendent. Nothing. Nothing for over two weeks. I couldn't believe it. Being that I'm an employee and colleague in the district where my son was being educated I thought I'd get a response. I remember feeling like a crazy person when I didn't. There was a very big part of me that wanted to follow up with a rage-filled email. I didn't. I work for the district. I stayed professional. I was let down though. I was big time disappointed in my district. In my opinion, people just weren't doing their jobs.
There is zero part of me that wants to respond to emails from angry parents. Thankfully I don't get all that many. I've gotten some though. I respond. It is my job. It doesn't matter what the parent writes. I work to ensure that each child has the best year possible. That means partnering with their parents. I have to partner with them even when they write angry emails. It is my job.