As an Assistant Principal, I figured out an effective strategy for dealing with the parents of the chronic, passive-aggressive, delinquent student. The student who by the end of the first semester had 30 to 40 office referrals, from tardies, to truancy, to profanity, to dress code violations, to disrespect – reported by multiple teachers and administrators.

 

These students invariably had parents who enabled, made excuses for, and defended the student, becoming more irrational, illogical, and over the top in their attempts to protect their child. To the point where the sheer volume of referrals became their proof that the student was the victim of an entire staff that was purposefully lying about him.

 

Here is what I would do.

 

I would have a conference with the parents and the student. On the conference table I would have a stack of all of the office referrals the student had received during the year.

 

I would state that we were not here to debate the merits of each office referral. I would admit that some of the office referrals could be the result of honest misunderstandings, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or an adult just having a bad day. I would state that I did not believe that could be the case very often, but out of a sense of fairness, they (the parents and student) could take 50% of the office referrals off the table. I encouraged them to review each office referral before deciding which 50% to trash.

 

But when they were done culling, there would be no debate of the merits of the remaining 50% of the office referrals. Instead, we were going to deal only with the consequences.

 

I had a 100% success rate with those conferences, as an AP, Principal, and Central Office Administrator.

 

At a certain point, a student is not being picked on, unlucky, and/or a victim of teacher animosity. At that point the student and his parents have to be confronted with the truth that the student’s actions and behaviors are a primary source of the problem and he will face reasonable consequences for consistently skirting the rules. Harsh, but it is much better to learn this as a child than as an adult; where both the harm caused by, and consequences for, consistent rule breaking are often much more severe.

 

Also, not once at the conferences was the consequence being expelled from the campus. Expulsion is a case of giving up, passing your problem to someone else to deal with. On my campuses, we took complete responsibility for our students, good or bad.

 

Lead Your School and Wash Your Hands!

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