Talking to the right person at the right time

Published 6:53pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I don’t mind hearing any concern from parents and concerned citizens all the time, but sometimes the practice or modus operandi makes it hard. Many people would like to address the board but experience tells me that some cases have better chances of being adequately resolved if you talk to the right person at the right time.

If a student is having a problem in his or her class, it is most appropriate for a parent to talk to the teacher who is supposed to have first hand information. If a parent strongly believes that the teacher is not reasonably cooperative or not responding adequately, then the parent should contact the principal.

If things could not be worked out with the principal, I do not see any reason not to talk to the superintendent. If the communication with the superintendent fails, it is reasonable at this point to get on the agenda and address the board. Most times, when classroom issues are brought straight to the board, it is usually referred back to the superintendent because the board relies on his expertise and advice unless where and when they fall short.

Most, if not all, teachers, principals, and superintendents would prefer that they know about their issues before they go to the board. I believe that some issues can come straight to the board or superintendent, particularly if the matter applies to the entire school district like poor students’ achievement level, high dropout rate, mass exit, overall students’/employees welfare, or any other issue that affects the entire district and community.

I know an Industrial Manager who sees this differently. He would always say, “If you want a cool glass of water, go to the head of the stream.” Meaning, if you want your problems adequately solved, go to the boss. Some management consultants, business colleges, lower level supervisors/managers, and accountants may disagree.

Personally, each time that we talk about it, I’m easily taken to the book of John 4:14 of my bible when Jesus said this to a Samaritan lady, “But whosoever drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”

My personal opinion is that piously or holy-spiritually, Mr. Norton’s quote is 100% sound but naturally, I could not agree totally because, a boss could pretend to be accessible but would surreptitiously or even clandestinely advise his lower level officials to deal with you for not following the chain of command. Even if a boss does not care, still in most cases; the subordinate officials will get offended for being neglected on issues concerning them.

In my Food Safety line of work, it is advisable to mention a concern to the affected department’s immediate supervisor and then contact a designated top official. This official knows about the availability and management of resources needed to correct and prevent the problem. Moreover, any letter from the government is addressed to him.

Regardless of position, never ignore a pressing issue that asks for your help.

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