I mentioned that last week was a bumpy start to the new school year, but at the time of writing that, I had no idea what would happen the remainder of the day.
Right after I hit the Publish button on Friday, the school called. I learned that Cordy had been having a very rough day, eventually landing herself in the principal’s office. I talked with the principal, then with Cordy, and when I hung up the phone I was a stressed out mess, worried that Cordy wouldn’t be able to adjust to the gifted classroom and that there just wasn’t any possible good fit for her at school. (Note: Yesterday went much better, followed by an even worse day today. I’m trying to remain hopeful that these are just a momentary freak outs over her new routine and the roller coaster will smooth out soon. Now please don’t let the school call again tomorrow.)
I hoped that the bus would make it to the school on time Friday afternoon. The first two days it was 30 minutes late to the school, and while I was not too upset at the delay, I was frustrated at the lack of communication on the delay from the Transportation department of Columbus City Schools. Our district’s Transportation department has a Twitter account with the sole purpose of notifying parents about delayed bus routes. Yet for the first two days, our bus route wasn’t listed among the delay notices. I tweeted my frustration about this the first two days, pointing out the tool isn’t very useful if they only post some of the delays and not all.
When I checked the Twitter stream around the end of the school day, I was puzzled to see this tweet:
That’s our route, but according to this tweet it was on-time. This twitter account is for route delays, and they’ve never posted about a route being on-time. I was confused – why was there a need to post that?
But then it got even more bizarre:
Again, this is not a delay and was completely unnecessary. Was the Transportation department mocking me with passive-aggressive tweets because I had complained about not updating all of the late routes? Surely they couldn’t be that unprofessional, right?
But then it continued:
I was stunned by the childish behavior being demonstrated by a representative of Columbus City Schools. Meanwhile, other parents were sending tweets in reply saying their children’s routes were running late and they weren’t seeing the updates online. Was Transportation too busy playing this twisted game with me to actually do their job?
What a petty, spiteful action to take because I called out the continuing communications breakdown with Transportation. Instead of productively using those complaints to improve services, they instead chose to be childish and harass me. Another bad decision in a series of bad decisions with this department.
But wait…it gets better!
I started calling attention to these tweets, pointing out the misuse of a district account and resources to act maliciously towards a parent. Others began commenting on the behavior. And then, over the weekend, POOF – ALL of the thousands of tweets ever sent from that account mysteriously vanished. At first, I thought they had blocked me from seeing any of their updates, but others quickly confirmed that they weren’t seeing any tweets in the account, either.
I wondered if maybe they were trying to destroy all evidence of the misbehavior, but I’d already told them I had screen shots of all of the tweets, so that seems silly. And deleting everything seemed a little extreme. For a district that’s already been found guilty of deleting student data, deleting district tweets seems like a really bad move to make.
The Twitter account was updating again as of Monday morning. But again, the slate was wiped clean before each new bus run. Why use a social media service when you plan to set each message with a self-destruct by the end of the day? Could it be they’ve figured out that leaving an electronic paper trail of the never-ending bus delays (or lack of updates on said delays) might be harmful to their reputation? Yet it’s even more harmful to deliberately cover your trail, too, especially for a group with a less-than-honest reputation.
Overall, I’m disappointed in the Transportation department and just as disappointed in the district. I emailed all of the Board of Education members and Dr. Good (the superintendent) on Sunday night about this issue, complete with screen shots of the tweets.
So far, the only response has been from the superintendent’s assistant, telling me he was occupied and she was forwarding my concerns on to the Transportation director. I know how to contact the Transportation director – had I wanted to email him, I would have included his email address on there the first time. I specifically chose not to include him because I don’t believe he can or will do anything to fix the situation, just like how nothing was accomplished to better track buses last year. (And in a plot non-twist…no response from him.)
No one else included in that email has reached out to me. I’d like to say I’m surprised by this, but it seems to be common around here. I did receive a voice mail from someone in the Customer Relations phone center, but I know those call center workers have no power to accomplish anything – their purpose is to create a public record that the school district responded to the complaint, despite actually doing anything to address it.
It’s sad. Sad that an employee of a school district could be so unprofessional and childish at his or her job. Sad that a Transportation department would rather stick its head in the sand rather than accept criticism to tackle the idea of making things better. And sad that the school district can’t see the enormous communications breakdown happening between the district and the parents, or care enough about parents to want to enact change.