Wednesday, March 13, 2013

They Don't Teach This in Grad School

I've been hit on at work before. Plenty of times. (Just stating facts here, not trying to say I'm all that or anything.)

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...

[photo via]
I'm sitting in my office and my blackberry vibrates. It's a text message from a father of one of my students.

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."

Umm. Okay.

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.

[photo via]
They surely don't teach how to respond to these things in undergrad or grad school or any type of professional development session I've been to...

What would you have done?


  1. Are you kidding me???? Father Dude has no shame at all!! Sir please get your life and stop asking women out when you have a WIFE at home. Sheesh!!

  2. Wooooow. Like really wow. I'm honestly speechless, but not shocked. I don't put anything past human beings. I would also keep record of any and all communication moving forward.

  3. Oh wow. I would have said the same thing. At least he knew he was being inappropriate. Now he will know it wasn't worth the risk.

  4. Unbelievable! That was totally inappropriate and disgusting. Love your response to him. I think he may try you again in the near future.

  5. Wow! I think you handled the situation very professionally.

  6. Wow.. what a creeper. He is disgusting.

  7. Um, wow. It would have taken everything in me to not put his behind on blast. I think you were quite professional in how you handled it. If he tries something else... read him. Wait, there I go being all unprofessional again.

  8. I would have responded exactly the way,u did. I've had men come on to me in inappropiate situations too and I've never said the cuss word filled things I really wanted to but remained a lady

  9. You handled it with class. I wouldn't have done anything differently. But yes, it's going to be really awkward having to face him again.

  10. I agree with how u handled it, although I am disgusted by his behavior as well. His wife has to know how sleazy he is?! smfh

  11. Look he's out of line and it may have something to do with why his son is acting up. He needs to focus on his child and his family. With that being said, I would not have texted back...I would have let him stew all day and when I saw him the next time mention we'll be communicating via meeting or phone going forward, not text and the focus will remain on his son. that's it.

    I would have mentioned his wife in the professional text i sent. he clearly thinks everyone is as stupid as he!

  12. Oh, gosh, I don't know what I would have done. I suspect my answer would have been similar to yours. I probably would have gone as far asking another administrator to handle the case for the remainder of the child's time at the school. Because let's face it - Father Dude crossed the line.

    Good luck with him in the future. Looks like you've got "two" issues to correct in this situation...

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  14. This guy is a real piece of work. Unfortunately sounds like he may be modeling this for his son... Poor kid.

  15. How awful!!!!
    You handled it perfectly. I would also show these text exchanges to your supervisor asap (if you haven't already). These types of things need to be documented.

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