Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Worst Day of the Year

Everyone has tasks to perform that they don't look forward to. Every April, we have to do our taxes. We have to brave the crazy crowds in the stores for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas just to get household necessities. We have to spend time with our children. We have to visit the DMV to renew our plates or license. A couple of times a month, we have to talk to the police officer knocking on our door. We have to dart to our car every morning to avoid being seen and caught in a conversation with our neighbor. We all have these things in our lives that are less than pleasant, but must be done. It's just part of life. However, yesterday was the day I dread more than any other. It was my daughter's high school registration day.

It started a month ago when I received the New York phone book sized registration packet in the mail. I've spent a few hours every night since then, filling in the thousands of blanks on over a ream of paper including:
  • Medical permission slips
  • Emergency contact information
  • Parking permits
  • Class schedules
  • Free/reduced lunch forms - whether you expect to qualify or not
  • Year book orders
  • Internet access permission
  • Racial profiling forms - not a joke. Apparently, they must know the race of your child. The form states that if you decline to provide this information (I always mark Asian so she can get an 'A' in math), they will make a determination based on visual observation.
  • Bus route slips
  • Rules of conduct booklet
  • Parent/Guardian's full name, address, phone number, place of employment, employer's phone number and hours of work
  • Extracurricular clubs and organizations
  • Immunization records
  • School picture packet
  • ACT/SAT registration
  • Etc., Etc., ad naseum
As much as I hate all this paperwork, it is even more frustrating knowing that they already have 90% of this information from when I gave it to them last year. Plus, the top third of every page asks for the same information as the other pages. Name, address, phone number, student ID, social security number, etc. Since there is some information I refuse to provide, I know that half my time during registration will be spent arguing with administration as I have every year in the past. 

Protect it!
Let's start with the social security number. A social security number is for tax purposes. There is no valid reason to ask for it. The school gives each student an ID number. That should be sufficient for tracking the student. I don't even put my social security number on job applications, because unless they actually hire me, they don't need it. There is too much identity theft out there to be careless with your number. However, every year some school administrator on a power trip insists that they have to have it in order for her to go to school.

I got my son all the way from kindergarten to high school without ever giving up his number and Kirsten is now a junior. I have registered a kid for school every year for the last 15 years. I know it can be done and I ask why if they have to have it she was allowed to go to school last year since I have never given it to them. They eventually give up and let her enroll.

My next argument takes place with the bursar, who generally has to call in the principal or school superintendent. There are a few fees that I refuse to pay. The book fee is one of them. I have only paid this fee one time. It was my son Christian's freshman year. I paid $70 for books and discovered a few weeks later that he hadn't been bringing his books home to study. He explained that he wasn't allowed to take the books out of the classroom. They didn't have enough books for all the students, so had to leave them in the classroom for the next class to use them. They could not bring them home for homework or to read over a chapter. All students had to rely on their notes.

I went to the school to demand our books. After all, I had paid for them. I got nowhere. The following year, I went to eBay and purchased all the books he would need. I then refused to pay the fee since we already had the books. Since he would be bringing his own books from home and would not be using theirs, there is no reason to pay the fee. It seemed reasonable to me. The school disagreed and argued that the money goes to other places as well. It is just called a 'book fee.' I pointed out that I was well aware of that, since they obviously weren't using the money to buy books. I then turned and left. I haven't paid a book fee since, but have had to argue my point again every year. This year marks the sixth year that I have gone without paying that fee.

I also have to argue about the fact that I will not give them my work phone number. They don't need it despite their insistence that they do. They have my cell number and the contact information for three other people. Last year, I worked at the sheriff's office. Personal calls did not need to happen. They can call my cell.

Keep in mind, that I hadn't even gone in yet. This is just a recollection of what I have had to go through every year. However, this year wasn't looking to be any easier.

Kirsten attends a large school with a few thousand students. They have registration scheduled for three separate days. Yesterday was for students whose last name begins with letters A through I. My daughter's scheduled day would be the next day. However, my new job starts on that day and I would be unavailable to go in. My job hours were a last minute change that I had not anticipated. I suddenly would not be available on the correct day, so called the school to ask if I could come in now ('A' through 'I' day).

I was told that was not possible since they wouldn't have her proper paperwork there to register her. Because they wouldn't know she was coming, it wouldn't work. I stated that since I was calling in, they would know she was coming and could have the paperwork ready. She didn't agree.

She explained that I could register late, but not early. If I couldn't come in Tuesday (her scheduled day), then come in Wednesday, the last day of registration. That didn't work for me either. My job starts on Tuesday, so I will be working on Wednesday also. I was free now, on Monday.

I was told they had a late registration day the following Monday for the people who were not able to get in on the scheduled days. I tried in vain to get her to understand that once my job started, I would be working. I have this Monday off because I haven't started yet. I will no longer be available during the week.

"Well, then you will have to wait and register her on the first day of school."

ME: (Trying not to scream): I will be at work! I am free today and you are doing registration today! How can you not see the simple solution to this problem? We need to register today!"

"But today is not your scheduled day." 

She attempted do transfer me to school administrators who might be able to come up with a solution, but being registration day, no one was in their office. As the day clicked by, I began to realize that no one would return my calls until they were free, which would be after registration was over. I grabbed Kirsten and we went to the school. I fought to register early and won. I fought against paying the book fees and won. I fought to protect her social security number and won. I fought to make them use the immunization records I had provided the year before and won. I fought to get the yearbook we had purchased the year before, but they did not have a record of. I had my receipt and won that one too.

We spent over three hours in registration surrounded by huge crowds of frustrated parents and students. I was so happy to get out of there and have the day behind me. It's the same scene every year. Registration at this school has never been without incident. As I was driving home and the stress was slowly lifting off my shoulders, I suddenly found myself grinning from ear to ear as I realized that I only had to do this one more time. My daughter will be a senior next year. I'm almost done.

25 comments:

  1. WShew, what a nightmare! Way back in the dinosaur days when I attended school, and even when my kids did, there was very little paperwork for parents to complete, maybe a permission slip or too, and emergency contacts, that was about it. Like everything else, it's reached the level of insanity. It takes less paperwork to buy a house than it does to enroll a student... and the costs for parents are growing by leaps and bounds too, one fee/expense after another. I applaud you for taking the time and effort to fight the system and win! How does your daughter feel about it? Does she see why you are taking a stand or does it embarass her? If more parents stood up, there'd be less of this foolishness going on. I totally agree on accomodating your early registration too, you weren't asking for that much. Why has going the extra mile in customer service become such a foreign concept? Great post! I was cheering for you all the way! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It embarrasses her. She asks why I try to do everything the complicated way. I don't. I try to make it simpler and I will not be taken advantage of. I do my best to keep the discussion away from her. I don't want to embarrass her, but it sometimes happens.

      Thank you for cheering. Some parents think I am being a nuisance and others think I am right, but few ever join me.

      Delete
    2. So funny! I was wondering the entire read how your daughter felt about it all. I would have been shocked if you said it didn't bother her :) But wow, you are impressive, fighting for what you believe in! You should hire yourself out to those of us who are wimps.

      Delete
    3. She has gotten used to it and agrees with the reasoning behind the fight, but doesn't like to be there when it happens.

      Delete
  2. Holy christ on a cracker... you are the man. I never want to deal with any of this but you just taught me some seriously awesome shiz.

    I hope your kids have learned from you and pass along how amazing their dad is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      My son does well to stand up for him self and call BS when he sees it. My daughter will just take whatever someone throws at her.

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh. That's enough to drive anyone insane. I'll have to tell my mom about that and then she'll be happy I chose to be in an online school, thus avoiding all of that drama for her. haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is lucky not to have to deal with it. Although, it is not this bad at every school. This school is particularly large and seems to be more disorganized than most.

      Delete
  4. Oh the things I miss (or don't) by not having kids! That was a long list of paperwork, and I am exactly the same about my Social. No need for anyone to have it.

    Sorry it was an exhausting day, but yeeha for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't so bad once I got it behind me. A few of them remembered me from last year and gave up really easily.

      Delete
  5. Oh wow! I'm more like your daughter and just take whatever is thrown at me - but I wish I had some of your guts to go out and challenge the system. I've been wondering how safe it was to plaster your social security number on all these job applications! It didn't make sense to me since, on one hand, you're supposed to be so careful with it - but then on the other hand, as soon as someone asks for it, you're made to write it down. So what happens with the job application when you don't write it down? Do you just tell them that you'll give it once you've accepted the job? How does that work? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When it is a written application you can usually get away with an explanation. Most places understand. When filling out an application online, it gets a little more difficult because the program will require it and you cannot explain it away. Sometimes a call to the company will take care of it, but other times, there is nothing you can do.

      Delete
  6. Fight the power! Or at least the bureaucrats. They only seem to have that crap on forms just to make the form big and important and justify their existence.

    You are the man, I wish I had the metal to get through that stuff with principles. I'm a hate - to - wait - in - line - lets - just - get - this - over - with - kind - of - guy, I admire your resolve.

    Legend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I let most things go because they don't really matter. I don't like to get upset, because it's not fun and I am ALL ABOUT having fun and enjoying life. This is something that just needs to be resisted.

      Delete
  7. Crazy-ridiculous amount of forms! That should not be necessary for a high school student. College, maybe, when loans and such are involved. Good for you for fighting back! I'm not a rebel-rouser, but I do believe in winning the war on stupid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I agree. The regulations required for anything anymore are just getting ridiculous. I have talked to teachers who say they spend vast amounts of time filling out paperwork for everything.

      Delete
  8. Keep fighting the good fight, my friend. I have never thought about not giving my son's SSN. He is entering 2nd grade this year. I will have to rethink this, I believe. And that book fee one is ridiculous. They should just call it "fees" and be done with it. Crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everybody seems to want that number and at the same time we are told to protect it. When they were younger, I just told them they didn't have one yet. Eventually, they stop believing you, but it works for a few years.

      I really have a hard time with giving them the same info year after year. If my child is attending the same school and I haven't moved, then I should not have to fill out this mountain of paperwork. The school should (and does) already have it. Give me a sheet with her information and ask me if there is anything I would like to change. If not, there should be virtually NO paperwork.

      Delete
  9. Holy monkey, that is a nightmare!!!! I agree - all that paperwork is a JOKE and I WAS in education. Do we really need 14 pages of the SAME information???

    I am hoping heaven is Paper Free - except for the colorful for cutting and folding and making paper airplanes.

    My daughter will be a senior this year too - my last- so I'm with you!!! We'll lift a glass in celebration together come May/June!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am working on my Master's in Education and dread what my future holds every time I walk in the place.

      I will be happy to never have to do this again.

      Delete
  10. Oh man, that sounds like a monstrosity. I don't think my undergraduate registrations were that bad....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know mine weren't. I will be very happy to have my last one behind me next year.

      Delete
  11. Good for you!

    The unnecessary information thing always gets to me. In the past few months I've had to argue with several different sales people, because they claimed they had to have my address, email, and telephone # in order to sell me something. No,you don't, especially if I'm paying cash.

    Grr, so ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. K Mart even asks for your zip code now. I don't know why they need it and refuse to give it. It makes no sense.

      Delete

Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.