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January 24, 2008

Is it acceptable to call school officials at home?

Devraj "Dave" S. Kori, a 17-year-old senior at Lake Braddock High School in Fairfax County, called up Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer for the county system, to ask why he had not closed the schools. He left his name and phone number and got a nasty message later in the day from the official’s wife.

The minute-and-change message from the wife blasted the student. At one point she calls him a “snotty-nosed brat.”

Kori (the student) got the last dig when he posted the message, along with the official’s work and home number, on his Facebook page. Needless to say the official received a fair share of calls – at home. Check out more of The Washington Post story here.

Since The Post broke the story, it has gained national attention. CNN ran an item about it. And the phone message left by Tistadt’s wife is up on YouTube. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the link had attracted close to 21,000 hits. By 5:30 p.m., the link had been removed.

What do you think? Is it ever acceptable for a student to call a school official at home? 

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 6:10 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Around the Nation, Around the Region, Trends


EVER? Maybe. But even the situations I can think of where it MIGHT be permissable (student journalism might squeak over that fine line), that would still be the distant second choice over dealing with things during normal office hours.

This being the Internet age (as was the student's argument), this same student could have used email toward the same end, AND thereby started a "trail of accountability." I tend to agree with steegness as far as when the home phone calls might be permissible. This wasn't one of them. On the other hand, if the student was writing for the school paper, AND time was a factor in the article, why not an article about what considerations enter into the decision?

So yeah, there are possible reasons, but they're few and far between.

This isn't the question you asked, but I think a lot of this grief could have been avoided had the superintendent's wife not reacted as poorly as she did. Nobody can tell me that this is the first time that a member of the public--of any age--has called the house. Would she have replied like this if a parent had called? You bet she wouldn't. And "the reach of the Internet" was the wrong lesson to be learned, here. It was the value of a civil response to an arguably inappropriate action.

Steegness and Claude have spoken wisely (as usual)! It all relates to civility, respect, and manners. We need more in general in our society-- but then again how many people are reveling in the embarrassment of public figures (or everyday citizens warbling/flopping on American Idol).

I keep detecting a certain viciousness that is creeping into many sectors of our society.

I worked in a system in CA where all school officials, as well as teachers, were expected to make a phone number available for all students/parents/whomever to access. Granted that this was in the days before the Internet and it was a small system; however, there were rules about when to call and what things were appropriate to call about. Once again, it is the reaction of the wife that is offensive. While the student showed poor judgment in making the call, the wife showed even less judgment in her reaction. Common courtesy is sorely lacking all the way around.

Great post! Here's an alternative to a GED online.

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