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.