Teachers bombarded by parents’ non-stop complaints
SCHOOL officials on Tuesday defended procedures banning overzealous parents from communicating directly with their children's teachers, warning the number of "serial complainants" who can't accept their offspring do anything wrong is on the rise.
In one example, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the principal of the prestigious Conservatorium High School wrote to the parents of three students about their contact with the school over 12 months about bullying allegations.
"Your communications have been via telephone, text, email, impromptu visits to the front office, appointments with staff, and directly with teachers outside classrooms," Robert Curry wrote.
"Please be advised that the volume of your communications is so great that it is no longer sustainable for the school to give it due consideration and respond to it all."
The school issued the parents with a "Communication Protocol" that restricted them to sending just one email per week covering a maximum of three issues, and funnelling all communication through a single staff member.
NSW Secondary Principals Council President Chris Presland said schools were resorting to such protocols because technology such as email had given parents a "very easy vehicle for complaining".
"It is a part of the procedure for serial complainants, it is meant to be there because you do get parents who will not let up every time something happens to their son or daughter," he said.
Communication protocols were a last resort used by principals who can't resolve an issue with parents who could not accept that their child was in the wrong.
School communication expert and founder of the Happy School Program Steve Francis said some parents these days even expected teachers to respond to emails at 10pm on a Sunday night.
"Parents have to understand it is not just their child, there will be an average of 20 students in each class and if parents are emailing every day that's a lot of emails to answer," he said.
Under such protocols, parents could raise urgent matters about the health and safety of a student via email and the school should respond within one day.
But parents who wrote excessively long emails would be asked to resend a more succinct version.
An Education Department spokesman said it was aware of the case at the Conservatorium, and the school had "assessed and managed the incident of bullying reported to it".
Nestled in a corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Conservatorium is one of NSW's most prestigious public high schools, with just 152 students and which bills itself as "the state's premiere music institution.
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