So here’s the deal:
It started with Thursday’s snowfall, estimated at about three inches near Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke. On his lunch break, Lake Braddock senior Devraj “Dave” S. Kori, 17, used a listed home phone number to call Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer for the county system, to ask why he had not closed the schools. Kori left his name and phone number and got a message later in the day from Tistadt’s wife.
“How dare you call us at home! If you have a problem with going to school, you do not call somebody’s house and complain about it,” Candy Tistadt’s minute-long message began. At one point, she uttered the phrase “snotty-nosed little brats,” and near the end, she said, “Get over it, kid, and go to school!”
Now, the kid’s question, in and of itself, isn’t really that big of a deal, right? Up here in Vermont they don’t close schools over a little snow–it takes a lot to close them down. We’re used to it. 3 inches isn’t a big deal. Many school districts, however, have instituted call-chains, at least one district is now equipped with an automated notification system that robo-calls parents to notify them of school closings, or many still distribute teacher and administrator home phone numbers in case the school cannot be reached for some reason. Different districts have taken various approaches to ensure that parents, students, and teachers have an open line of communication so that everyone is informed. To me that seems a reasonable approach, and a community-based solution. Hardly the approach that the principle’s wife seems to have embraced, and perhaps she and her husband should reconsider their place in the public arena.
The problem that has everyone really worked up about this is what happened next:
Kori took Tistadt’s message, left on his cellphone, and posted an audio link on a Facebook page he had created after he got home from school called “Let them know what you think about schools not being cancelled.” The Web page listed Dean Tistadt’s work and home numbers. . .
Kori explained his perspective in an e-mail yesterday to Fairfax County schools spokesman Paul Regnier. Regnier said, also in an e-mail, that Kori’s decision to place the phone call to the Tistadts’ home was more likely the result of a “civility gap.”
“It’s really an issue of kids learning what is acceptable and not acceptable. Any call to a public servant’s house is harassment,” Regnier said in an interview.
It occurs to me that there are three separate issues here in question:
Was Mrs. Tistadt’s response appropriate?
Was the posting of Dean Tistadt’s home phone number on the internet appropriate?
(And this one really bugs me) Does “any call” to a public servant’s house constitute harassment?
For me, the answers are pretty cut and dry: No, No, No. Yet the internet is aflame with differing opinions on this, and so I put the questions to you. What do you think?