No Snow Day? “Get over it, kid.”

by admin on December 27, 2010

This news story was originally published January 24, 2008 in the Washington Post newspaper.  Despite it being an event that occurred almost 3 years ago, the issues of privacy, harassment, public officials are still relevant today. Besides, I’m sorta snowed in today so the topic seemed quite apropos.

A student who called a school official’s home to ask why snow hadn’t closed schools got a frosty response – and created an online storm.

Last Thursday, the student, Devraj “Dave” S. Kori, 17, called the listed home phone number for Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer of Fairfax County, Va., schools, and asked why he hadn’t closed schools after an estimated 3 inches of snow fell.

Kori left his name and number, and Tistadt’s wife returned the call.  She apparently wasn’t pleased, judging by her taped message, which Kori posted on a Facebook page.

“How dare you call us at home!  If you have a problem with going to school, you do not call somebody’s house and complain about it,” Candy Tistadt snapped in her message.  She also used the phrase “snotty-nosed little brats,” and said, “Get over it, kid, and go to school.”

The message was also posted on YouTube.  Kori, who attends Lake Braddock Secondary School, did not immediately respond to an e-mail message Wednesday.

He told The Washington Post that he thought he had a right to ask a public official for more information about a decision that affected him and other students.  He also said his generation viewed privacy differently.

But Fairfax County schools spokesman Paul Regnier told the newspaper that Kori’s actions showed a gap in civility, saying any call to a public servant’s home was “harassment”.

Citizens do have a right to question their public servants *in the context of their work environment*.  Kori could have waited and called Dean Tistadt at his Fairfax County government office to inquire about the decision to not close schools and make his opinions known.  But once a public figure leaves the work environment and enters his/her domicile, all citizen rights to engage him/her about their job performance terminates.  A person’s home is their last refuge, their castle they rule and any notion that one has a right to invade that privacy with questions, demands, requests, protests, or any other disruptive behavior should be squelched as vigorously as possible.

Candy Tistadt has, no doubt, learned the foolishness of returning a harassing phone call and leaving a voicemail message.  If ignoring Kori’s phone message was not an option, reporting it to the proper legal or school authorities was the next step.    By returning the call, Candy Tistadt sunk to Kori’s level by conducting what should have been her husband’s school business from her home phone.

As for the younger generation’s blase attitude towards privacy…we’ll see how that changes over the coming decades when your foolish, youthful indiscretions start coming back to bite you on the butt.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

DocCAC December 28, 2010 at 1:50 am

So Susie thinks that having a listed number means anyone can call you at anytime for anything and it is the *recipient’s* problem because they don’t have an unlisted number. Is the recipient rude if they don’t answer the phone? It used to be that having an unlisted number cost more. Or maybe phone calls bothering them at home is why some people are getting cell phones only. When it comes down to it, the phone is there for the user’s convenience, not the caller’s rudeness.

If you don’t think you can safely get to school, don’t go and let your parents take it up with the school later if there are any repercussions. the 17 year old’s “explanation” as per AshtaraSilunar post makes him sound like a self-important spoiled snot nosed kid. And just because the official could not be reached at his office doesn’t mean he wasn’t on the way there or perhaps confering with others in a different office. Since the kid had to leave a message at the home, why didn’t he leave the message at the office instead? It would be interesting to know what time of the day this all took place, if the official was indeed at work (maybe he was sick ,it happens, or out of town if he was not at work).

And maybe we should stop speculating on how the conditions were, since only one of us appears to have been there and it really doesn’t matter what would or would not be done in your area. Even if school buses aren’t running, it may be okay for single vehicles driving carefully since the safety margin is different (think about it). what matters is that a 17 year old made a call to the home of an official to ask an inappropriate question (if it was so bad, why didn’t the parents call?) and he got a reply by someone who shouldn’t have stepped in (the wife) which may have been triggered by the a)hour of the call, b)tone of the call, c)number of calls about this in general to their home. I doubt the husband was happy about his wife interfering with his work, just as my husband would have been. But, one more time, since a message had to be left due to the phone not being answered, the message should have been left at work.

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i'm not scared December 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

I am from Michigan and we would not have closed for three inches of snow..it had to be really bad before we got snow days. They are much more likely to close school for excessive ice.

Where I live now, though, people freak when it rains. It was hilarious to hear the local newscaster tell us not to leave our homes unless we had to last week, although I do understand that it flooded and there were mudslides in some areas.

I think calling the home number was way out of line though and the wife’s response was just as bad…it would have been much better if she had called up a friend and vented to her instead. “Can you believe this kid just called my husband AT HOME and said blahblahblah??? The nerve!” much less offensive.

I also wish people would stop taking the behavior of one person and applying it to everyone across the board. It would be majorly offensive if I said “all black people steal” because someone got arrested for theft on the news and he or she happened to be black so why is it okay to generalize an entire age group based on the actions of one person? Plenty of us “younger generation” folks know how to act like a civilized human being aware that people need their personal privacy.

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Sharon December 28, 2010 at 2:47 am

I worked for a municipal water department for 11 years. In all that time I got ONE call at my home. How that man got my number I will NEVER know. But, he was calling at 1:30 a.m. to complain (in the vilest words I ever want to hear) about his water being turned off the previous afternoon for nonpayment. He was one of our worst customers. He was one of our worst paying customers and he was known all over town as a vicious bully. He told me he knew where I was and I had BETTER get his water on pronto.
It frightened me so badly, I called the police. When the officers got to his house, he was so abusive to them he ended up getting arrested.
He never bothered me again, thank God… but, a bill that would have cost him $45 late charges included, ended up costing him a few hundred because of the fines he racked up harassing me and the police officers.
It ain’t pretty to bother folks at home.

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KissofLye December 28, 2010 at 4:58 am

DocCAC- I don’t normally comment but I have to say, the option of just not going and letting the parents deal with repercussions if there are any is not possible in many situations. I’m in my third year of college now so I was in high school when his was happening and I know from experience, even with excused abscenes, notes from parents/doctors, they could and would still suspend you if you missed too many day. It doesn’t matter how sick you are in a lot of cases. It always annoyed me to no end how ridiculous they got about attendance at school. I hardly missed and it still annoyed me.

Five minutes to go between class in a school of over 3,000 students that was built for about a 1,000. The moment the bell rang they would lock the doors to all the classrooms and you would be late. Three lates equal detention, six or something like that equal ISS, and so on and so on. Nevermind that we had to run from building to building and that they wouldn’t let us use all of the stairways the proper way.

Or there could be repercussions that vary from school to school.

*coughcough* Perhaps there’s some bitterness left over from high school. :p

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Ginger December 28, 2010 at 6:40 am

Hmmmm. Reading Kori’s original explanation makes me think that he was trying to make a point to the public official – especially with the mention of the debate team. I’m going to assume the reaction he got from the wife was because of the tone of the message. Still not okay but there’s not a person I know that doesn’t get an adrenaline surge when a particular tone is used with them. The kid knew better and the wife knew better. How absurd to claim that just because someone has a listed number, you can call them at home. Would anyone think it was okay if a customer decided to call a Walmart employee at home to complain about something they had purchased not working and it was an ‘emergency’? EVERYONE is entitled to privacy and a sanctuary that is their own.

If Kori was genuinely concerned about his safety, he could have made the decision to stay home – or more to the point, his parents should have made the decision for him and called the school to inform them of their decision. I can only assume that they weren’t concerned enough about the conditions to keep him home that day. The problem with closing a school, is that kids miss out on their education. They miss out on the educational program that is already delivered on very tight timelines and fall behind their peers which can have a huge impact on their education since no extra time is allocated to cover the work that was missed. Of course, education can’t come at the expense of safety. I don’t envy the people that have to make those difficult judgment calls but the reality is, parents always have the option of overriding those decisions if they feel uncomfortable with them.

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Caros December 28, 2010 at 7:06 am

My own opinion…

The child in question: no, he shouldn’t have made the calls to start off with. Just how long did he wait after leaving his original message before following it up with the call to the officials home? Half an hour? An hour? Two? What time of day was this? I’m guessing he had no perception of the reality of dealing with a situation like this (the official having to make decisions regarding the snow). Did he really think that his school was the only one that needed consideration in the circumstances? If this is an area of the country where snowfall isn’t dealt with on a regular basis then I’m also guessing that he didn’t have any understanding of how involved a day/s it would have been for the official in question. A lot of the comments are very judgemental against the wife of the official, I think you’re been quite mean. Do we know how many calls she had been fielding all day if her husband couldn’t be reached (considering he’d probably been spending the day/evening/night running around like the proverbial blue bottomed fly, quite an understandable situation)? I’m guessing, if she was answering/returning the calls then he wasn’t at home. If the weather was that bad she was probably worried about the safety of her husband (I know I would be). No-one has acknowledged the fact that the home isn’t just her husband’s sanctuary from work, it’s hers too.

Overall, I personally think shame on the poster for digging up something that was both very public and obviously painful for those involved the first time round. Not necessary.

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HelenB December 28, 2010 at 7:48 am

I believe this was originally from the 90’s, so the idea of calling an administrator at home concerning snow isn’t new to this generation:

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2010/12/03/

Seriously though, I agree with the others who’ve said that he shouldn’t have called her at home, and she shouldn’t have blown up like that. I wonder if she’d gotten any other calls at home from parents/children concerning snowdays and just lost it this time.

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Samantha December 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

My only question is where the number was listed. Someone has already mentioned that some officials list their numbers in student planners/handbooks. I’ve seen some listed on school websites. If the number was listed on anything official and connected with Mr Tistadt, then it was well within the rights of Dave to call it. If he had to search for it online or in the phone book (white page residential listings) then I have a harder time supporting it. Still, Mrs Tistadt really shouldn’t have returned the call, if not out of politeness then out of concern for her husband’s job. Smaller things have ruined careers.

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Goldie December 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm

As a mother of HS senior, I call shenanigans. The kid could stay at home if he wanted, whether or not the snow day was called. Unless he was really trying to change the world and petition for the rest of his classmates… that’s something teenagers do. Like the rest of us, he will learn in due time that it’s impossible to change the system, if he hasn’t already ;)

To the wife though… cry me a river, lady. At my work, we are *required* to provide our employer with the means to reach us at any time as needed (home # and cell #). My previous job, I was on call 24×7, two weeks on/four weeks off. I’ve gotten calls on weekends, holidays, and in the middle of the night. My husband, children, and dog were greatly inconvenienced, but that’s the nature of my job. If your husband is a high-ranking official, he can and will get calls at home. That is why his phone number is public in the first place. It is a downside that comes with a lot of upsides such as your husband’s high salary that apparently allows you to stay at home. You know, taking the bad with the good and all that.

As a mother, I would advise my children against calling a school board official about something like this, for the sole reason that it’s pointless. If the roads are really that bad, I’d just call them in sick instead.

BTW, “in real life”, office buildings do close in event of a blizzard, and employees are sent home and/or encouraged to work from home instead of coming into the office in case of inclement weather. Happened at every job I’ve worked at.

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Cat December 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I have been in a public school system since 1971, and I have called a higher up in the system exactly once-upon his explicit instructions to do so.
Our society no longer holds to the notion that people are given respect according to their stations in life. I hold to an older notion.
In WWII, my mother was upset that my father had to salute officers. She felt that the officer was not a better man, a better person, more intelligent, etc. than my father so why should he be saluted? My father said, ” I salute the uniform, not the man.”
I have followed that throughout my life. We owe respect to all people for a variety of reasons. For some people, a special respect is given on the basis of their position in our lives. For those older than I, for the handicapped, for those in positions of authority over me, I remember to salute the uniform. I give up my seat on a bus for an older person, for a younger one who is handicapped and cannot stand, things I would not do for someone younger than I who is able to stand. That, for me, is saluting the uniform.

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Asharah December 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I remember once, when we had nasty weather during exam week, the radio announcement said they were opening 2 hours late. It takes me over an hour to get to the school on the public bus, and by the time I got there they had changed their mind and cancelled school for the day, leaving me to spend another hour getting back home. And no, I couldn’t just stay home, it was midterm week!

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FlyingBaconMouse December 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I don’t know a lot of the background on this, but if he tried the office first, might the kid have thought the official was taking a snow day while the students had to show up to school? He still shouldn’t have called the house, but I’d be plenty ticked off about that (assuming I didn’t have the phone-phobia that would prevent me from calling either number in the first place!).

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Jillybean December 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm

@Goldie – having you husbands employer call your house isn’t the same as having his clients or customers (or whatever is relevant based on what he does) call your house. If a faculty member had called the house, maybe that would be ok, but do you really think that anyone and everyone in the school system is well within his/her rights to call this man at home to question his decision making?

And you’re not actually calling 3 inches of snow a “blizzard” are you? I mean, I know it’s technically the wind speed and visibility that define a blizzard, but I can’t imagine there’s ever been one with only 3 inches of snow.

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Geekgirl December 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I used to work in a library. More than once, whilst I was out and about (not even on my way to and from work) people would give me their books to return – and say they expected no fine, as they had returned it to me, even if not to the library. They would get very annoyed when I would say I wasn’t going to accept their books, lug them around for the entire weekend, and then take them to the library with me. People seem to assume that if you are a public servant of some kind, you are on duty all day every day – whether you are paid for this or not. If you are listed in a public phone book (as many other non-public servants are), this does not mean you are automatically on call. Even public servants are entitled to a private life.

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KarenD December 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Going against the flow again. Breaking it down, I’d say that Mrs. Tisdadt is far more in the wrong than Dave, especially given the respective levels of judgment one might expect from a teenager and a grown woman.

A dear friend is a middle-school principal, and I remember talking about this story with her when it broke (at the time, she was an assistant principal at the county’s largest high school.) She gets calls at home all the time. She doesn’t want, or invite, people to call her at home – but it is district policy that administrators at her level (and above) have listed home phone numbers. They don’t have to answer the phone – they can screen their calls, or turn off the ringer on their phone – but if she OR HER HUSBAND went off on a student in this manner, and especially if they were stupid enough to leave a rant recorded in voicemail, there would be Repercussions. Maybe not formal discipline, but it would definitely cast a chill over her professional image.

This is not uncommon in an administrative position in ANY industry and it would be particularly impolitic for someone who draws their salary from the public treasury to be so abusive on the phone, especially toward someone who is quite a bit younger.

Dave definitely stepped over a boundary, but he’s a teenager, and yes, youth does provide a partial defense against bad judgment. To me, the rudest thing he did was posting the message on Facebook – in essence, inviting future harassment against the couple – and I have to wonder at what point his parents started paying attention to what was going on. The people who bombarded the Tisdadts with calls after that posting were unquestionably rude and have no defense.

Finally, this extremely broad-ranging statement: “But once a public figure leaves the work environment and enters his/her domicile, all citizen rights to engage him/her about their job performance terminates. ” … goes a great deal too far.

There are times when the most (or only) effective way to communicate with a public official is through his/her personal contact information, including home and/or personal cell phone numbers. I’ve contacted hundreds, maybe thousands, of public officials at their homes in the course of my career – both elected officials and government employees. I’d say 99 percent of them understood that dealing with questions out-of-hours was part of their job. I won’t say they were always happy to hear from me, and I always did my best to be as respectful as possible, but they are public officials. They are answerable to the public and not always at the time and place of their choosing.

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Shores December 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

The student was out of line to call the man at home, but the wife’s actions were incredibly inappropriate, in my opinion. She could have used this as a teaching opportunity for her husband’s student or even better, she could have stayed out of it altogether and let her husband deal with the situation. Who is she to return a phone call that was placed to her husband anyway? I don’t consider one phone message to be “harassment” by any means and I do not believe any law enforcement agency would either. The husband should have called the student and explained why his actions were out of line. In the end, the wife came out looking FAR more childish than the student.

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bookworm December 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Goldie: Going to have to disagree with you about the wife needing to “cry you a river”. You mention providing a home number so that EMPLOYERS may reach you at home. That has nothing to do with the issue of this story, which is that they were receiving calls at home from what amounts to a client. The last I heard, customers and clients don’t directly pay your wages, your employer does, and therefore, they have no RIGHT to call you at all hours.

It sounds like you work for pretty nice employers otherwise, and I wish we could ALL be so lucky. Unfortunately, the rest of the real world doesn’t quite work the same way as the little section you’ve carved out for yourself.

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karma December 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Shucks, 3 inches of snow is nothing! In parts all over the USA students attend school in the snow. Just because it is a bit of a novelty here south of the Mason-Dixon line, the boy had no business calling the official at home.

If he wished to discuss it, the central office phone number is available to be dialed during business hours. Not only was the young man inappropriate in his choices, it sounds as if he didn’t really learn from his mistake.

Funny to me that he considers himself qualified to question how an entire school system is run. I wonder if it ever occurred to him that at age 17, he does not have all the information he needs to make an assessment of how that district is handled? Sounds to me like he wanted a day out of school…..shame he didn’t just ask his mom or dad if he could stay home.

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Sharon December 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm

I thing Goldie got it right with her comments about both the kid and the woman… Thank you, Goldie!

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Sharon December 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

OOPS……. I THINK, not I thing…

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Goldie December 28, 2010 at 5:34 pm

@ Jillybean & Bookworm: actually no, I haven’t received calls from my employer at any of my jobs unless there was an absolute, all-hands-on-deck emergency. When I was on call, the way it worked was, my end users (the blue-collar guys working out on the shop floor, in my case) would call the help desk, and the help desk technician would call me, first on my cell, then, if I failed to answer that, on my home phone. (Just like the kid in question called the work number first, then home after the work number didn’t answer.) If my home phone wouldn’t answer, they’d call my backup. If that person wouldn’t answer, then and only then would they call our manager, but we normally didn’t let it come to that, because we’d be in serious trouble afterwards for not answering the phone on time. So in essence, yes I had my customers call me (sometimes for no good reason, just because they’d get confused working on their computer and trying to get the product out at the same time, and assume there was a support issue when there wasn’t) and when they later apologized for having to wake me up, I used to tell them, “no problem, that’s my job”.

Also, my employer doesn’t directly pay my wages out of his pocket. The clients pay us both. If we lose the clients, we’ll both be out on the street. Likewise, this kid’s parents pay the school district via property taxes (and in some states, from what I hear, via direct donations to the school as well). If a large enough number of families in the district move out of it because they’re no longer satisfied with the school, that school district will struggle financially. That makes the students and their families kind of important for the district.

And something tells me that this Dave kid is very likely going to end up working in a “little section” similar to the one I’ve “carved out for myself” ;)

Lastly, 3 inches of snow is no big deal where I live, but it would be in the Southern states. Any amount of ice would be a big deal where I live. It varies from one location to another.

To reiterate: like I’ve said before, I would NOT advise my own children to do something like that over a snow day…. not worth it!

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lisastitch December 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm

The amount of snow is irrelevant. In some places, 3 inches is hardly noticed; in others, it will shut down the city.
According to the article in the Washington Post, he called during his lunch period, so his parents didn’t even know what he was doing. And he did first call Dean Tistadt at his office, where he got no answer.
Was it appropriate to call Tistadt at home? Probably not. I could forgive Kori’s calling Tistadt at home if there was some urgency to the situation.
Was Mrs. Tistadt’s response appropriate? Absolutely not! We don’t know what message Kori left on the home phone, but no matter how rude he was (and I am not assuming that he was), she was incredibly rude.
And I don’t think it was up to his parents to do something. He is 17, so he is almost a legal adult. By the time my kids were in high school, I was trying to get them to take responsibility for themselves. If he had a question, it was legitimate for him to pursue it, rather than asking his parents to do it.

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bookworm December 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Goldie, you seem to have missed my point. You have your BOSS calling you at all hours of the day, not your CUSTOMERS. BIG difference there.

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Goldie December 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Huh? Bookworm, my whole comment was about how I always had my CUSTOMERS call me and NEVER my boss. So I’m afraid I’m still missing your point here. Logically, why would my boss call me in the middle of the night, anyway? at that hour, he’s at home sleeping. It’s my customers that are out working, and need my help.

Incidentally, no one’s calling me at all hours anymore, because I didn’t really like having to get up and work in the middle of the night and then go to the office the next morning, so I found another job where it wasn’t a requirement. Anyone who isn’t comfortable with being on call, has my blessing to do the same ;)

Also, if my husband tried to call any of my customers back to yell at them, I’d probably have his head on a platter.

Anyway, I’ve done some reading on the subject and here is what I found…

1) On that particular day, in that area (Fairfax, VA) there was a mix of ice and snow that closed all schools in the surrounding districts. In Kori’s school, about a dozen kids got into car accidents that day trying to drive in that weather, (apparently there were bus accidents as well), and most of the rest were 30 or so minutes late as they were stuck in snow traffic. He did go to school that day, and made his call during lunch break. This in my mind somewhat justifies his phone call.

2) The superintendent himself later agreed that Kori’s message was not disrespectful. Apparently in the message Kori was asking about factors that determine whether a snow day would be called or not.

3) I did see a comment from a wife of a school official stating that her husband is required to be on call 24×7. Apparently the Tistadt home had been getting calls from students for a while, and at all hours. The reason why Mrs. Tistadt decided to call Kori, out of all people that had called their house, was apparently because he was the only one that had left his name and phone number. Not because he was rude, or called at an indecent hour.

4) Kori was eventually suspended for 1 day, not for calling the superintendent’s house, but for cell phone use. Cell phones are not allowed in that school.

I listened to the message, couldn’t even understand half of it, the woman is screaming on the phone and her poor dog is freaking out barking his head off. Pretty disturbing.

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Baglady December 29, 2010 at 12:32 am

What KarenD said. When you are a public official, your employer *is* the public. And that’s why public officials make a point of giving the public accessibility to them. In some jurisdictions, especially small ones, that may mean making their home phone numbers a matter of public record. That doesn’t mean they are required to pick up every call at all hours of the day and night. As Karen pointed out, they can screen, use voicemail or turn off the ringer.

I’m not disputing that the kid was out of line, or that the wife overreacted. My point is that it is fairly common for a public official to make his personal contact information available to the public, whether it’s voluntary or (as with Karen’s principal friend) a requirement of the job. Heck, the President of the United States gets calls at home all the time from his employers (i.e., us). Granted, he has a 24-hour switchboard and a staff to field those calls, but the principle is the same as with Smalltown Mayor or School Superintendent — public officials make themselves accessible to the public. It goes with the job.

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jenna December 29, 2010 at 6:13 am

FWIW, I don’t think Kori was calling just because he wanted a snow day and didn’t get one: as someone who was at the top of my class in high school, I can say that generally speaking, kids with GPAs as high as his don’t dislike school that much – they wouldn’t go out of their way to make a point just to get a day off from something they don’t mind doing. It’s the kids getting by with Bs and Cs, who worry they might fail a test, not that they might get a dreaded A-, who would be more likely to pull a stunt like that just to try to get out of school.

I do think that what he did was inappropriate, though there is a case to be made for public officials being accountable, generally, even in their off hours. I worked for awhile as a correspondent reporter and would often have to call up public officials in the area for questions etc. in the evenings, and generally it was understood that answering such questions was a part of their job (as a reporter, of course, refusing to do so could land them a reputation-scarring “declined to comment”). Whatever it was, the immaturity of being 17 – nearly a legal adult or not, a 17-year-old is rarely a paragon of maturity – lands it in my mind as a “learned something important” moment, rather than an “acted horribly” one.

Whatever the case, Ms. Tisdadt’s reaction was far more inappropriate and unbecoming of the spouse of a public official and adult.

If, however, snow was such a safety concern, I am guessing that a kid with a 3.9 GPA could’ve stayed home for a day without major repercussions. In my high school in upstate NY, a few decisions like that were badly called, and honestly, if conditions were truly that bad, kids just wouldn’t come to school. If the school had challenged them on it, they’d hear about the “danger to the kids’ safety” at the next district meeting (which I reported on, heh heh, so I know this actually happened) and the school would quietly drop it.

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Enna December 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I’m one of the “younger genreation” and I wouldn’t call a civil servant at their home. I would make the deicsion myself if it was safe to go into school or not on the day.

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lkb December 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm

This whole incident reminds me of what happened near here in Michigan a few years ago.
I live in SE Michigan (near Detroit) and one day we were dumped with much more snow than usual. While watching the morning news we saw every. single. school. district in the entire viewing area close. Except one. Ours (really).
Actually, my daughter attends a private school in the area that depends on that district for buses, so I ended up driving her to and from school that day. I got stuck in my driveway twice and saw multiple cars in ditches along the side of the road all that day. Of course, I kept wondering why the superintendent didn’t cancel school when every other school district did.
The story came out that the superintendent was from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which gets far more snow than we do on average. In a nutshell, he saw the snow and essentially said, “Piffle!” and left school open. He didn’t think about the buses that would not be able to maneuver down back roads, etc.
Word has it his voice mail, the district’s voice mail, the newspaper’s “sound off” column (a column in which readers could rant and rave anonymously) etc. were filled to overflowing because of the superintendent’s decision that day.

The following summer, the superintendent’s contract was NOT renewed.

There were other issues going on in the district that year, but I refuse to believe that horrendous decision did not contribute to the nonrenewal.

Yes, the student (not a child — he was 17), should not have called the official’s home phone. And the wife definitely behaved very badly. But I chuckle to think our former superintendent probably had to deal with the same thing.

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i'm not scared December 30, 2010 at 3:11 am

lkb, I used to live in that same area, and I actually remember this happening…I wonder if it was the same district I am thinking of….

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lkb December 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

@I’m not scared
District is named for county and the county seat, starts with L. Superintendent was from UP town starting with E.

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RP December 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm

A lot of people are going on about what happens where they live or policy where they work. This story isn’t about your particular situation, it’s about their situation. How often you get calls at home or at what hours doesn’t make calling the COO of the school county at home OK and the number of inches of snow you go to school in doesn’t make Kori’s question invalid.

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DocCAC December 31, 2010 at 2:18 am

KissofLye — my answer stands. As a family doc I have butted heads with more than one school official on behalf of a student patient when appropriate. If you truly think it is so bad school should be called off and really, really fear you cannot safely make it to school, stay home. Is it worth risking getting into an accident and getting injured or killed? Had I gone to your school and stayed home because conditions were really too bad (I either walked to school or my dad took me–it was only a bit more than a mile), believe me, my parents would have taken on the state superintendent of schools if need be. Sorry that at your school it seems a few bad apples made it so that everyone got punished.

It is interesting to note that apparently the snow started when school was already in session. So did Kori call before there was even snow? If so, he has a lot more faith in the weather guy than I do.

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Dear! January 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I think before I comment it is important to note I’m from another country. (Think a mix of deep traditional southern USA and traditional caribbean and you have my culture.)

I would not dream of disrespecting an adult by calling their home the way the student did. And if they had called me back, and my parents had found out what I did I would get in trouble with them. And if I had shared my actions with the world, I would not only be in trouble with the adult in question, but my parents, my school and my teachers. It might not have been right, but if a child called my home early in the morning, with what more than likely was an attitide, I would have been miffed to no end and called back with a stern , but not rude, message letting them know it was not okay by any means and not to do it again.) I think children should be children. I am a 23 year old business professional and I still answer any person who is of a more mature age, regardless of being their superior in title, by saying yes ma’am or no sir. I think some children today are raised with too much freedom and too many think they are equals with adults.

My question is, what did the parents do? In too many of these cases the parents are so quick to say “my precious angel is the victim” yada yada yada. Not all children are angels or victims. If your child is a little stinker get them some help, teach them manners, and reprimand them for foul behaviour so they don’t turn into a rotten adult.

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KissofLye January 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm

DocCAC-
And I stand by mine. Taken on the state superintendent of schools? That’s not something that my family has the time or means to do. So while if the weather was so bad, I probably wouldn’t have gone to school, I would have gotten in trouble and I would have been punished and had it go down on my records when really, I’d done nothing.

We';; have to agree to have varying opinions on this. :p

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Sarah January 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I fear I am late to the party on this one – but my unique perspective may help. My husband has been in the public sector (more aptly called civil SERVANT) for 23 years. His department handles snow removal. He is the guy who goes out on the terrible roads (which are sometimes closed due to weather conditions) to determine if he can call plows out or not.

We have received phone calls at our home at all hours of the day and night – including one drunken rate payer who felt it was the perfect time to act completely idiotic and harassing at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night.

The first issue is this – while public employees do have an accountability to the public at large whose taxes pay their wage, this does not give one permission to treat these employees (or their spouses – I’ve taken a call or two myself) as second class citizens. Imagine what it is like to try and do your job with literally hundreds of not thousands of pairs of eyes watching you at all times, and feeling self righteous enough to call you out for anything THEY deem worthy.

The second issue – at 17 you are no longer a “child” in the court of public opinion. If my son was 17 and picked up the phone to call a government or school official, he would have serious consequences at home. I would suggest that the parents of this “child” have either had issues with the school board in the past, or perhaps have expressed a lack of respect for the office/employees/”system” which has created an environment in which a “child” would feel perfectly entitled to act the way he did.

While I agree, the manner in which the spouse responded is not “perfect”, but until you’ve been in the position where your spouse’s career invades the santity of your home for YEARS – and as I said – at all hours of day and night, you really should reserve judgement of her. Who knows how many other calls were placed to her home? Where there small children who have been awakened by these calls (been there!)? Has this blatant lack of boundaries caused issues in her marriage, her husband’s frame of mind?

As a side note – my husband is leave public service after 23 years to take a private sector job, where he will be paid more money, more benefits and more support. So much for government jobs being cushy!

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Leah January 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Several of the news programs stated the boy tried the official number and there was no answer.

Screaming at someone like that, and calling them names? And on tape? That was stupid. Was she drunk?

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judecat January 7, 2011 at 1:31 am

“By returning the call, Candy Tistadt sunk to Kori’s level by conducting what should have been her husband’s school business from her home phone.”

I strongly disagree with this, I do not think she was conducting her husband’s school business, I think she was replying to a personal invasion of her privacy. I had to deal with a similar situation with some of my MIL’s patents calling our home phone number when MIL was ill. The office phone gave the phone numbers of two other doctors to call in case of emergency, and I really did not appreciate her patients calling me demanding to talk to the Dr MIL. So my telling them that it was inappropriate to call us at home, and that they really needed to call one of the other doctors was not “conducting MIL’s business from our home phone”

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Me January 8, 2011 at 4:42 am

Wow. That kid was so incredibly rude. I would be pissed if some stranger called my personal home number to whine and harass the family. He was most definitely invading their privacy in an incredibly disrespectful way. That was bad enough, but calling about a snow day? Three inches of snow is nothing! Sounds like the kid is an entitled brat. First of all, there is nothing there to complain about, but even if there was a legitimate complaint, calling someone’s home about a work related issues is uncalled for.

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Alexa January 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Let me get this straight…

Schools can expel and harass kids for things that the kids do outside of school. One school even used assigned laptops to capture webcam photos of kids in the kids’ homes. But when a kid looks up a publicly listed number and calls it, that is harassment? Calling the guy’s home might have been rude, but how can you expect kids to know the boundaries when their schools have no respect for their boundaries? Kids can’t even refuse a search on school grounds.

Hypocrisy, plain and simple.

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Leah January 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I am certain if the boy left a message that was rude, it would have been played all over the place like her screeching answer was.
It would have been used as justification for her little temper tantrum.
As not a word was ever played, one can only assume it would not have helped her side.

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Renee January 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

As part of “his generation” I think what he did was extremely out of line. He is indeed within his rights to understand why the school didn’t close for weather, but he should have stuck to just calling the office. Calling the office several times, and then calling his home, is harassment in my mind. He needs to get over himself. The wife had the right idea, but the wrong words. I agree that this kid needed to suck it up and go to school. People shouldn’t have to be on call all the time. We all have lives outside of work! So he should learn he needs to grow up and learn to accept that people can’t always answer his questions right when he wants them to.

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