The first day of school usually consists of shortened class sessions in which the students introduce themselves and the instructor hands out the syllabus. An average syllabus contains a course description, grading policies and instructor contact information. Some instructors may choose to include their personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers in case you need to contact them outside of office hours. Should a situation come up, however, where you need to know if school has been canceled, be sure not to call the home phone of a school employee.
Last Thursday, Fairfax County, Va. student Devraj S. Kori called the home of school official Dean Tistdat to find out why school had not been closed after three inches of snow had fallen. Kori left a message on the Tistdat’s answering machine, leaving his name and number so that he could receive a return phone call answering his question.
Kori’s call was returned, but not quite in the manner he expected.
Tistdat’s wife, Candy, called back, giving Kori an earful, but never answering his weather-related question.
"How dare you call us at home?" Tistdat said. "If you’ve got a problem with going to school, you do not call somebody’s house and complain about it."
She also proceeded to refer to students as "snotty-nose little brats," and told Kori to "get over it, kid, and go to school."
Kori told the Washington Post that he thought he had a right to ask a public official for more information about a decision that affected him and other students.
Calling a public official on their listed phone number is not a crime and does not deserve the response that was given.
Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman Paul Regnier thinks differently of the situation, however. He told the Washington Post, "It’s really an issue of kids learning what is acceptable and not acceptable." He also said that Kori’iacute;s actions were caused by a "civility gap."
Is it not acceptable to call any listed phone number? Is it not civil that the student called to ask a question, on his lunch break from school mind you, instead of just not showing up to school at all?
Kori was questioned about his actions by his school, but did not receive punishment for his actions. What he should receive, however, is an apology.
It is likely that a student would be suspended, if not expelled, had they left a message similar to Candy Tistdat’s response. The only civility issue here involves the adult not acting like one.
If a person lends their information to the public, whether it’s on a syllabus or in a phone book, they should be prepared to have it used at any time – even by snotty-nosed kids with simple questions.