School Safety: Parents speak up - a good thing?

As kids get back to school, family law issues involving schools start popping up left and right. Students, parents and teachers often get along just fine, but sometimes communications break down and tempers flare. I'll never forget my brothers being late for school and the secretaries calling my mother. Those poor women often didn't deserve the heat from Mrs. Kathleen M. Augustine when she fiercely defended her kids - go mom!

My mother was a respected physical education teacher and coach until she retired early to take on a role with more responsibility - full time stay-at-home mother. Mom went back to education as "Mrs. Augustine, substitute teacher" and I tip my hat to her courage, serving in an often tough capacity. Now that her kids are grown adults, I think she offers some good perspective on teacher, parent, and school communications.

I shared a link to a short article I wrote for a law firm on the story of the girl in Tacoma, Washington, who was badly sunburned on a field trip where the school had a policy, at the time, preventing students from keeping and applying sunscreen without a physician's note.

I asked Mrs. Augustine her thoughts on parent/teacher/student dialogue: “First, identify the student's problem and agree on a direction to go. Help includes the PTA, guidance personnel, Principals and teachers. The Student Counsel or close friends can also be helpful. Next, set up a conference with all concerned and approach the problem with a spirit of help, co-operation and flexibility.  Be sure to add the student's input to the solution. Follow through to check on results to see if an alternative is needed. Last, stay proactive by being aware of what is going on at school and be sure to attend parent-conferences to keep the student monitored.”

A family law attorney who works with parents and school issues stated in the above-linked article: “When parents and school administrators keep an open line of communication they can better work together to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe experience. When my clients have concerns about what is happening at school I prefer to work with everyone to find a reasonable solution instead of racing to court. Sometimes a simple meeting can solve a problem before it has a chance to get out of hand.” Edward White.

Today's digital media presents more opportunities to for parents, students, and teachers to speak their minds. I hope the opportunities arise for constructive dialogue and resolutions on matters that otherwise do not get addressed or only are addressed in courts.

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