These teachers share the most ridiculous run-ins they've had with a student's parent.
What Did She Want To Be Done?
“The child had heard someone using swear words. The child is 16 years old, so I thought it was odd that there was a complaining parent. But still, if a student — or worse, teacher — had sworn at him, it’s not great. The conversation went something like this:
Me: ‘Was it a teacher, or someone else at the school?’
Me: ‘Ah, it was a fellow student then?’
Me: ‘So it was someone else in school — did it happen on the school campus?’
Me: ‘During school hours?’
Me: ‘So you’re saying your child heard someone swearing outside of school grounds and outside of school hours and that person had no connection to the school?’
Parent: ‘Yes, I want to know what you’re going to do about it!'”
What A Wild Lady
“I was organizing a graduation dinner. One mother comes in and demands her daughter perform her music. I inform her the graduating class had picked someone else to play for the dinner.
She gets even madder and corrects me that she is not talking about her daughter who is graduating — she is talking about her daughter that graduated years ago, who is now trying to launch her music career.
I laugh and professionally inform her it will never happen.
A couple days later, she called the conference center and tried to make all the meals kosher and a bunch of other stuff. Kosher is always an option a student and family can take, but she wanted 300 guests to eat kosher. Wild lady.”
She Was Asked To Leave
“I had a parent come in and ask me where our cleaners were from to decide whether or not she trusted that her daughter wouldn’t get her stuff robbed at school. I explained that we didn’t use an agency, all the cleaners were employed directly by the school.
‘No,’ she clarified, ‘where are they FROM?’
She was quickly invited to leave my office.”
She Has So Many Stories
“I taught kindergarten at a poor school, where it wasn’t unusual for students to enroll late. I don’t know why, but it was just the way it was. School started in late August, and I had 14 students. My last student enrolled in mid-October, giving me a final count of 22.
Anyway, so it was the eighth week of the school year, and a parent enrolled her daughter. She sent her other teenage daughter to bring my student to my classroom while my class was on the carpet. I get up, have my class play a game, greet both of them and specifically tell the teenager, ‘Let your mom know that if she has any questions for me or would even like to come sit down and observe for a minute, she is more than welcome to. Just have her walk on in and I’ll talk to her in a break.’ I show my new student where to put her stuff and have her sit down on the carpet. Now, I had given everyone assigned seats and since my class was bigger, I had to find a random spot for her close to the back.
I start teaching again, and there was a knock at my door. I go to answer, and it’s the new girl’s mom. She is livid. ‘Why is my daughter in the back of the room?’ I tried to use my professional voice and explain that this was not her permanent seat; that seating is based on the needs of the students, and that I regularly change seating. She didn’t want to hear any of it, just wanted me to move her to the front and promise that would remain her permanent spot (which I refused to do because I did look at student needs). After an exchange that lasted way too long, I told her that I needed to return to my students, and she could contact me later for a conference if she felt I was not meeting her daughter’s needs. She stormed off, apparently said something to the office that made no sense and left the school.
Later on, the assistant principal came by and asked what it was all about, and I told him what was said. His reply? ‘What does she expect enrolling her kid late?’
Another time in another class, I had a first grader’s parent come in after the first day of school, obviously upset. She told me that her daughter was inappropriately touched by a boy and I didn’t do anything to help. I informed her that I was not told of the incident until that moment. I also got the details from the daughter. Apparently, the daughter was bent over to get a drink at the water fountain, felt a tug on her skirt, and turned around to see a boy letting go of it. She didn’t know the boy’s name (which is fair, it is only the first day). I told the mom that I would have her secretly point the boy out tomorrow and that I would talk to him to get his side of the story. ‘What do you mean his side? He’s a predator. That’s the story.’
I said, ‘Ma’am, he’s in first grade. There are lots of reasons a 6-year-old might touch a skirt that are completely innocent. He could’ve been trying to figure out the material. He might’ve seen a bug. Until I know exactly why I can’t assume he was doing something with the intention to do harm. Not at age six.’ She wasn’t happy to hear that.
The next day, the girl let me know which boy it was. I talked to him privately. So, the girl had been wearing leggings. The skirt was polka dot. The leggings had stripes. He was trying to figure out if it was one whole unit or the leggings were separate for the skirt. I talked to him about appropriate touching and what to do if he’s ever curious about a girl’s outfit again. That was the end of it.”
A Seating Assignment Uproar
“When I taught high school, I moved seating arrangements about once a semester. It keeps the kids on their toes, forces them to work with other students, and breaks up some of those talky groups we tend to get.
Every time it happened, I got calls about ‘How dare you move my baby! He wants to sit next to his friends!’ No, your child does more talking than work; he needs to be away from his friends.
‘My little girl needs to sit in the front row. Otherwise, she won’t pay attention and get all A’s.’ Your kid is fine in the second row, she’s focused and learning. I need the front row for my kids on independent education plans.
‘You only moved him because you hate him/you’re mean.’ Yeah, it just makes me happy to move your child two seats to the right.
Seriously, folks, it’s a seating change in one period. Unless there is a medical reason that dictates otherwise, your kid will be okay wherever I sit them.”
This Complaint Was So Absurd
“I worked in a conservative district in Texas in 2012. I taught journalism, and every Friday we had Media Literacy Day, where I had students read two articles on the same current event from two different news outlets and compare/contrast them. The idea was to get them to look for signs of bias, or how one outlet might portray the event in a different light, and explore why that might be.
Naturally, since it was 2012, a lot of the articles we read were about the election. And since kids are curious, one of them asked me who I voted for, and I answered. I voted for Obama. Seemed innocent enough, but apparently, one of my kids went home and tattled on me, and I got an angry email from a parent about how I was trying to brainwash kids and ‘push a political agenda’ in class. Just by saying I voted for Obama. Meanwhile, the science teacher/basketball coach down the hall had pro-GOP/Romney stuff all over his door and walls, and got no similar complaints.”
Did She Just Not Want Her Kid?
“I had a parent complain about unfairly sending her kid home after he was running a 101-degree fever and vomited right in the middle of the cafeteria. She insisted that every witness to the vomiting was lying and insisted that the ‘fever’ was caused by her child wearing a sweater.
This mom was not called away from a job to pick up her sick child — she was a housewife. She was home when the school nurse called her home phone number.”
The Headmaster Was A BOSS
“A child was suspended for bullying. Pretty standard. Well, that was until the next day when the child’s father came in and told his kid to ‘go ahead and finish the job to make the suspension worthwhile.’
The father then started threatening staff. The headmaster at my secondary school was not a tall guy, nor did he look particularly intimidating. Many mistook him for being weak. But he put the boy’s father in a headlock and marched them both out of the building, then told them if they returned, the police would be called. He did not return, and the headmaster got a loud cheer from his students.
She Was Completely Unreasonable
“There was a mom who was mad that we wouldn’t let her son be in the class that he wanted to be in. Her son was in second grade, but for the first two or so months of the school year, he would go to the kindergarten classroom every day. We’re not a big school, so there’s only one second-grade class. Developmentally, there was no reason he should still be in the kindergarten class. He just kept going there because he liked the toys, and when he was in there, he would make fun of the younger students because he was older and smarter than the rest of them, and would hit them if they were ‘stupid.’
When we told the mom what was going on and that we needed her to support this transition, she thought we were doing this because we didn’t want her son to be happy at school. We finally got him to go to the correct class (my class), but the troubled behavior (hitting, swearing, making messes, being purposefully distracting, disrespectful and inappropriate) still continues, and the mom’s ideas that we’re picking on him and are being mean to him still continue.”
At Least The Principal Had Her Back
“My mom is a teacher for kindergarten-age kids. A few weeks ago, this kid went on a rampage and was ripping the other kids’ work off the walls and shouting at the teachers. My mom scolded him, took him to the headteacher’s office and told him that what he did was wrong and obviously not nice to the other kids.
The next day, my mom was called to the headteacher’s office, and the parents had come in to make a complaint about my mom because, apparently, she had ’embarrassed’ their son and made a big deal out of nothing. My mom is the nicest person ever, and this upset me so much. So many parents think their kids are little golden children who are perfect and can do no wrong, so they blame teachers for doing their job and trying to make sure their kids don’t grow up to be repulsive human beings.
The good thing is that the headteacher told the parents to bugger off and defended my mom. They were laughed off the premises. Serves them right for being bad parents!”
Such A Terrible Woman
“I’ve had a parent complain to me about her child. Her daughter was doing well — exceptional grades and consistent effort in classwork and homework.
Me: ‘She puts a lot of thought and effort into her work.’
Mom: ‘She sucks up to you?’
Me: ‘No, she wants to do well and be successful. That being said, we’d like to improve her grammar a bit.’
Mom: ‘I knew it, she’s stupid. Doesn’t do anything. She will fail.’
Me: ‘Uh, no. She just needs a little more rigor in this department.’
Mom: ‘She’s such a disappointment.’
And every once in a while I’ll just get a complaint from her about her child. Her kid’s a joy, and I’ve been nicer to her since I met this lady.”
She Demanded Her Child Be The Star
“One mother threatened to yank her daughter out of the school if this student were not given the starring role in the Christmas concert to sing ‘O Holy Night.’
The girl had made it clear to her classmates, the faculty, and me that she realized she wasn’t musically qualified for the part, neither did she want to do it. It was entirely her Mom. She was determined that her daughter should be ‘the star’ of the school, no matter what.”
“I work at an inner-city Catholic school where most of my students have some serious learning disabilities. Their parents get second jobs to pay for Catholic school because they don’t want their kids in the public school, but the Catholic schools don’t have a special needs teacher that can help them. For my students who have severe ADD/ADHD, I have a rule that if they are acting up too much, they can leave the room and ‘take a lap’ for a couple of minutes to get some energy out. This has been helpful and has caused far fewer distractions in class.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to call home about a student who was constantly on her phone and talking back. The mother then proceeded to tell me that I called her daughter a ‘dog’ by saying some students can take a lap and that I was racist for describing my students as dogs. I never said dog.”
“Perfectly Reasonable, Right?”
“My class was about to take a unit test in physical science. It had been about a month since the last test, so I sent home a two-sided review sheet. I was checking these for correctness, but grading for completeness (the plan was to hand them back out as a study guide), and I noticed one that had no answers on one side of it. The child had written their name at the top of the blank side, so they had seen it and just decided not to do it. I gave the child a 50 on the assignment since they had done half.
Perfectly reasonable, right?
Nope. Their parents complained, but to the other teachers in the grade instead of me. Apparently, giving a 10-year-old a completeness grade based on the amount of work they did is unreasonable. None of the other teachers were mean, so it wasn’t fair for me to be either.”
She Was In Complete Denial
“A mother came yelling into the teacher’s room one afternoon because both the chemistry teacher and I (assistant professor) agreed to send her autistic son to the handicapped children’s class, where they have two fabulous teachers who work WONDERS with children who can’t follow the pace of other kids.
She was furious because we couldn’t keep stopping the entire class so her boy could understand some subjects, and let’s be honest, he couldn’t because he had been passed in previous years just to appease his mother. The lad couldn’t even perform basic arithmetic on his grade level.
Apparently, she wanted him to have a ‘normal’ life with other kids, but he had no interest in interacting with any other boys, and got angry when we tried to explain things to him because it was hard for him to understand.”
She Completely Freaked
“This was during a parent-teacher interview. A mother said that she was concerned that her daughter was failing, so I explained that although I thought her daughter was capable of passing, she would have to put in more work at home (she hadn’t completed any homework assignments).
I then spent the rest of the interview getting ranted at about how I wasn’t allowed to suggest how she should spend her home time, and how I should focus on teaching her daughter more than the rest of the class during lessons just because she was struggling. I politely explained that I couldn’t do that because that wouldn’t be fair for the rest of the class. The mother then stood up in the middle of the hall and yelled, ‘YOU ARE THE WORST TEACHER EVER! I’M GOING TO THE PRINCIPAL, AND YOU WILL BE FIRED.'”
How Could He Misinterpret A Smiley Face?
“I usually sent homework that was basically practice because I don’t like to overload my students. Kids need time to play and decompress. Anyhow, I sent one of my brighter students some difficult homework just to see how he did. I put a sticky note on it that said, ‘Michael may need a little help on this one. =)’
The dad came in the next day and threw the note on the principal’s desk and was furious because the smiley-face was me being a smart-mouth and saying that he didn’t help his son with his homework. The principal was politely incredulous, and the guy’s wife came in later rolling her eyes and apologizing for him. My principal let me explain the situation and he chilled out. But still. A smart-mouth smiley face?”
They Don’t Understand Their Kid Isn’t The Only Student
“I had a student who had it written into his accommodations that the parent was to be contacted directly every time he scored a grade worse than a ‘C.’ I refused to do so since I taught nearly 200 students in a course where I gave some sort of graded assignment, quiz, or activity every day. Never mind that my school district has a web service for parents to check their children’s grades.
Basically, the parent complained to their child’s representative enough, so they had more than two pages of accommodations for their child. They weren’t interested in having their child learn as much as they were interested in creating an accommodation plan so confusing that they could argue away anything their kid did as the school not following the plan.”