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Parent Teacher Conference

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

Last week SD's teacher asked DH to get with BM and find out a date/time that worked for both of them for a parent teacher conference. DH responded that because of the 3 hour time difference they have always had them separate, this is the day and times that he is available, and once the teacher confirms a day/time he will ask BM if that works for him.

Well, after a few back and forth emails, the principal emailed that the parent teacher conference is set for the opposite day DH asked for and total opposite time of day. So basically the principal is saying that if DH can't make that work, which why they even asked for his availability to be no where remotely close to it, then DH doesn't get to have one/be a part of one. My mom is a school social worker and advised to email the teacher asking her if there is a day outside of the two days set for parent teacher conferences with a 5 hour window that is before homeroom even starts anytime in the near future that the teacher could have a parent teacher conference with him. My guess is she won't respond or that the principal will email DH again. 

It is starting to feel like the school is now boxing DH out and is 100% biased.


advice.only2's picture

Perhaps the back and forth between DH and BM was getting complicated and the teacher felt that there was going to be no workable solution that appeased both parties so they went to their leadership to figure out a workable solution.  I know it’s frustrating for DH with how awful BM is and not knowing what she is in fact telling the school, but maybe in this instance the principle is setting a boundary not so much for DH but for BM.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

we asked your availability to end up picking a day/time that doesn't work for you at all and that is all the information that is going to be shared. Oh, she is 100% telling the school something, that much is obvious! The principal ended up emailing DH again after DH had sent another email that said if DH and BM can discuss and come up with a day/time that works for them both then the school will try to accomodate that. DH reached out to BM and so far no response and I doubt BM will try to come to an agreed day/time.

ESMOD's picture

First.. is there any way your DH can make the date and time work for him... I know it's not what he asked for.. but in all the back and forth.. with BM and him.. and the school.. I'm guessing that they got frustrated with him and his ex,..and just picked a time that worked for THEM.

Alternately.. he needs to simply say that the time is not workable for him and suggest another time frame.. but he needs to do it within the time that they have already blocked out for parent/teacher conferences.. he needs to make a time/day work within their framework. 

Teachers are busy.. asking her to find time outside class(work overtime).. to have double conferences.. is asking a lot.  I get that there are situations.. where both parents are not able to be on the call at the same time.. but I am also guessing if his times were more limiting.. and they figure that the bare minimum is to have the conference with the residential parent if they have to choose between.

If I were him.. I would do everything possible to make that call.. or barring that.. ask for another time during the 2 day window that they have set aside already.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

would state that rather than saying it has been set for such day and such time even though it is completely outside DH's availability and no explanation. It comes across that they didn't even try to accomodate his schedule.

DH ended up emailing again asking if there was a day/time at any point that he could have a conference about SD with the teacher and explaining how he has gotten up at 4 am PST just to attend the conference. 

On the note of DH making it work, the time the school said, it really depends on the details. The principal emailed back and said if BM and DH could agree to a day/time together that worked for them both that the school would try to accomodate them. DH said he would try his best to do so. DH messaged BM, but we haven't heard anything. Worst case, DH will have to take time off work to attend. 

CajunMom's picture

Having worked in the school system, I also believe it was too much back and forth and the school had to pick a time that worked best for them, regardless of BM or your DHs schedules. I don't see this as them "boxing DH out."  What must be remembered...your SD is one of 25+ for this teacher and she/he is having to manage multiple parents' schedules. Something has to give eventually.

I agree with ESMOD....if your DH can make that conference time work, please do it. Afterwards, he can email the principal, let him know he had to take time off work to make this conference and would like the next conference scheduled on HIS time. 

BUT...I will say this. When DHs youngest was in his Senior year (he lived with us for the Junior year where he excelled), DH did try to get involved in his kid's education (about an hour from us). Was told by the school that said kid lived with BM, so they'd go to her for "issues" and also, kid was 18 so DH had zero authority. Funny thing with that...the following May when the kid was failing his 5 classes and had missed 53 days of school, the school THEN called and wanted our convince his Math teacher to pass him on color sheet grades. We declined. I refused to coerce a teacher into going against her ethics and standards. SK did not do the work. He deserved to fail. And that he did.

This is why I said I'm not sure about it being the school....because there is the chance it could be them. So try to make the planned conference and definitely request the next one for a time that benefits your DH. If that happens, then you are okay. If not, then it may just as you feel. 


NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

and the school about it, we have not a clue. Instead it comes off that they asked DH his availability and maybe asked BM if her availability was then also and it wasn't so they just decided to go with BM's time and that they didn't care about when DH was available.

There has been a couple emails since I posted this blog and right now DH is trying to communicate with BM to agree on a time/day, but I have a feeling BM is not going to be compelled to try and make it work for DH. 

ndc's picture

How long are your P/T conferences? In our district they're 15 minutes for elementary, 10 minutes for middle school and 15 minutes for high school.  The middle school ones are held in the cafeteria, so there's little privacy.  Basically, they are not designed to deal with problems, and those "problem" meetings are scheduled as necessary.  If your conferences are anything like ours, your DH might be able to do it on a break and wouldn't need to take much time off (depending on what his job is, of course). I suspect based on what you've said about SD and school that she would be one of those students who would need multiple parent meetings outside of the regular P/T conferences. Your DH probably wants to let them know he needs to be involved in any of those.  

I hope he's able to work out an acceptable time.  Your BM really is a piece of work. 

strugglingSM's picture

In my experience as a stepmom, schools have usually been accommodating, except for one teacher, who would include DH on emails, but then would only reply to BM. I think she was a divorced mom herself, so she was biased. I went to a parent conference with her and asked a simple question that she couldn't answer, so I don't think she was a great teacher, either. Another sign she was not a great teacher - BM got along with her fine, which means she never expected anything of SS, because any time a teacher has expected something, BM has gone in and cried and gotten the teacher changed (this has happened every year for at least one kid, in different districts and different schools). 

As someone who worked in school districts for years, parent / teacher conferences are supposed to be a way for the teacher to communicate with parents, so while it may be annoying for teachers to have two conferences for one kid, it is a basic part of their job and actually a pretty low maintenance way to communicate about a kid. Many teachers view them as a perfunctory chore, which means they are of not much use to anyone. 

Harry's picture

On conference day. Regular school hours.  Or 1/2 houre before or after school day.  Your DH has to make time.  If he wants to talk to the teacher..tearchrs.  

ESMOD's picture

The school is obligated to make reasonable efforts to involve both parents if they have joint custody, but it is not obligated to have two meetings. If one parent has custody for educational purposes, the school would not be obligated to consider the other parents schedule at all

In the end.. it's not the school's fault that their time zone is so different... that is kind of a "dad problem".. and they allocate a certain amount of time for teachers to have these meetings.  If her DH can't be available then.. he can try to request a separate meeting at another time.. but it may mean him getting up at 4 am to get it done.. (I get up before 4 am to go to work.. he will survive.. haha).

But.. for what it's worth.. when you are hoping for someone to be cooperative and inclusive for you.. you probably should be bending over backwards to make it as easy as possible for them.. involving the school in a lot of back and forth over two parent's schedules.. is making yourself a "problem" to them.. they want you to select a time during their PT days schedule.. 

Your DH is already boxed out of this to an extent since you live outside that jurisdiction.. and only have a long distance occasional visitation.. his EX is the face of parent for that school.  He may have to work harder to be relevant there.. and that is part of the price he pays for being so remote from his child's life.  as frustrating as that may be.