First, some tips for dealing with parents of a certain brand of “difficult” nature:
- Document everything.
- Be sure that you are never, ever completely alone with a student; always have potential verification for anything.
- Communicate with your colleagues and supervisors in dire situations; they will have your back.
- Seriously though, document everything when something gets complicated and unnerving. Take notes. Get direct quotes. Everything. And tell somebody.
- Don’t try to tackle things alone.
So here’s what happened: A parent wants to be staff.
They are not particularly emotionally balanced, and on one occasion stormed the space declaring that we should be fired and that our kids are animals.
This parent started a rumor of the nature that any youth worker — teacher especially, but anyone who wants to spend their lives working with young people — dreads as instant destruction of their career. They kept it vague. They passed it around so that it sounded like it came from another source.
It was a very tense, very sleepless few days.
Then we got in touch with the parent. The parent who then specified and debunked the rumor for us quickly and let us know that they are the one other parents go to for information, that other parents are concerned about staffing, that they have to frequently tell other parents that they do not work with our program or get paid for what they do.
They actually do not do a thing with the program. Occasionally they cause problems for us of a very vocal nature. And not only do other parents not go to this person for information, they avoid this person as much as possible except when interacting with this person’s kids.
This parent wants to be staff. They will get us fired if it means they can be part of the program, for whatever sudden reason. They heard that I was leaving and now they are ramping up their efforts.
And that’s why I’ve been a little awkward or absent. But it’s been resolved as much as it will be, the tumblrs here on #education are amazing, and you should be part of this community if you’re not already.