Sadly, ethical breaches lurk around every corner. High schools seem to be a fertile environment for behaviors that are questionable from parents, students and staff member. It seems the greatest challenge in the high school arena comes not from the students but their parents. Of the three situations addressed, two involve parents defending their children at all cost. Parents believe they are acting in their children best interest; but do not have the foresight to realize that by not allowing their children to face challenges or suffer consequences they are hindering their spiritual and social development.
The first ethical dilemma stems from the parent of a graduating senior with Turrets syndrome, labeled as an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) student. While in the process of enrolling the younger son into 9th grade, the parent was informed that he did not meet the guidelines set by the Federal Government for ESE and would have to take regular courses, she became irate and began screaming obscenities in the front office of the High School. I heard the commotion and as the parent was once a volunteer, I decided to intervene. I ask the parent to come into my office so we could discuss the matter privately. If I didn’t, I knew the next step would have been a call to the School Resource Officer (SRO) to remove her from the campus. She had previously sued the school for another issue and I did not want things to get out of control.
We spoke in my office and her main concern was for her son, who she believed would be lost if he was not allowed the same services he received in middle school, with extended time for assignment and privacy during test. I tried to no avail, to relay to her that our school is a caring environment and if her son was having difficulties when he arrived in the Fall I would personally speak to the Director regarding reviewing his file. I also tried, convincing her that there was no need to blow the situation out of proportion as the school year had not started and his courses were not picked. Maybe, we could have hand-picked his teachers or provided some other compromise.
She eventually calmed down, but left my office visibly upset. While discussing the issue with an Assistant Principal and the ESE Director, I found out that she needed her son to qualify for Social Security Insurance (SSI) for the additional income her family would receive. Ultimately, as her request for services had nothing to do with her son’s needs, it should not be granted. A few days later, we received a call from the District Office, requesting that her son be retested. Obviously, they did not want to deal with the issue and took the easy way out by putting salve on the situations instead of getting to the root of the problem.
This issue has not been resolved! However, I am confident that this parent will get her way as most do, further corrupting the system. I believe School Districts should defend school based decisions...