Dear Susan: What can you do for the kids that are supposed to have something signed, but the parent doesn’t do it? We have a lot of kids with a parent that works second or third shift, so the kids and parents really don’t interact. The kid may leave whatever it is out for the parent to sign, but the parent may not do it. Our school policy has been to punish the kid, which doesn’t seem right to me.
You suggested remind.com. Many of my 6th graders do not have their own phones. Using the remind.com service with parents is spotty, as many of their phone numbers have changed or been shut off. Any help you could give would be appreciated. Thank you! – Krysten Smith
Dear Krysten: Sometimes, connecting student and parent, and getting parents to respond, can be difficult. And I agree, punishing the student for something the parent failed to do just doesn’t seem right. So, I brought the question to teachers who follow my Facebook page. I received some great answers, and they may help in this situation.
One teacher had students from an economically distressed area. Some parents worked two or three jobs and were so strapped for time that they couldn’t remember to sign papers from the school. Other parents didn’t seem to care. “We were able to find a lawyer who worked with our social worker. The kids were being punished for not getting papers signed. The lawyer drew up power of attorney for specific signing privileges between the parent and after school director, who was the one anyway watching over the kids homework, making sure kids were aware of the needs the next day.”
Another person suggested getting the parent-teacher organization to become more proactive. “PTO could be more flexible to work with these families or go to them! Some of our Esps go to them at a meeting place at night mainly for the kids but the parents too. They can’t just drop [the kids off] and go. The high risk kids in turn are doing much better at school.”
And a third noted that their school’s guidance counselors will often call to get verbal permission or agreement from parents if the parent is home during school hours.
Finally, multiple people wondered if the school could send the necessary forms via email or text, and accept a digital signature or confirmation reply. This would offer a multipronged approach—both paper and electronic versions of the documents that need to be signed—and give parents more convenient options to reply. Automated reminders could also be sent out to email addresses or phone numbers.
My thanks to everyone who replied! I sent all of the responses on to Krysten. We know that connecting student and parent is sometimes difficult to manage and I hope teachers who are dealing with a similar solution will be able to use some of the above suggestions, too!
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