I've always been able to maintain my integrity and professionalism, and decline any offers with some level of poise. But last week, something bizarre happened that almost threw me off my A-game...
This is a student whose father I've been in contact with a lot recently because he's been going through a phase where he's struggling behaviorally. Basically, homeboy has not been following the rules or trying his best, and me being who I am, I've been working diligently to develop a plan with his teachers and father to get him back on track.
A week prior, the boy (who is in the 4th grade, by the way) is suspended for repeatedly hitting another student. (This is after he was given several reminders to keep his hands to himself.) His father and I have a meeting afterwards and during the meeting, Father Dude mentions that he, "like(s) the way I sound."
A day after the kid returns to school from his one-day suspension, he hits another child in his class. This time, I call Father Dude to speak with him so that we can get him back on track and set him up for success. Father Dude's response? "Well, I can talk to you all day, Ms. Harper, but if you want me to speak with ---,I guess I will."
I ignore this comment and concentrate on the issue at hand. (It's the adult thing to do, no?)
After Father Dude speaks with his son, I take the phone back and let him know that I will call him at the end of the day to give him an update on how the remainder of the day goes.
That evening, when I call Father Dude's phone (as I promised I would), his wife picks up. (Yep, you read that right. Father dude is married.) She tells me that her husband is not around, but that she'll have him reach out to me when he returns from the store. He calls me back and we have a cordial conversation regarding the rest of his son's day. (Presumably the wife was within ear shot.)
Fast forward to the following morning.
I'm sitting in my office and my blackberry vibrates. It's a text message from Father Dude. And it reads thus: "You know I like you Ms. Harper. I was mad she picked up my phone."
Wait. There's more. The plot thickens.
"At the risk of being just a little inappropriate, can I ask you to a dinner for conversation? I would like to know more about you. Please reply."
Umm... a little inappropriate?! Is this what the world is coming to?!
The issue at hand has now shifted from the son's behavior to Father Dude's behavior. This needs to be addressed. Immediately.
I reply, but I leave my attitude out of it. "I appreciate the offer, but it would be unprofessional for me to maintain a relationship with any parent that is outside of the typical academic one. I will continue to support --- academically in any way possible."
I want to say something totally different though. Believe me. But I have to see Father Dude for the remainder of the school year, until his kid graduates and goes off to the middle school.
What would you have done?