Thursday, February 14, 2008

Irritating Paperwork, Pissed-Off Parents, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I just spent the last half hour filling out school registration forms for the kids for next year.

The application fee is due tomorrow.

It's February.

Last year I was able to put off this particularly annoying bit of responsibility until April. Hell, last year open house for potential new families wasn't until March.

That was before this particular bit of nasty business at St Thomas, a neighboring Catholic school:

Nun fired as principal of St. Thomas

Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 22, 2008 11:18 AM

A Catholic school principal was fired just days after she was told she could remain in her job the rest of the year.

Sister Patricia Gehling was principal at St. Thomas the Apostle School in central Phoenix for 7½ years.

On Jan. 14, just after school resumed after the Christmas holiday, Gehling was informed her contract would not be renewed. Word spread, and on Thursday a group of parents gathered to pray for her retention.

After school on Friday, she was told not to return.

These parents did more than pray. Given no information other than "not due to misconduct" many of the parents did what they could to "rectify" the situation and reverse the priest's decision. According to all accounts the principal was quite loved by the families at the school and parents did not understand what was going on or why she was let go. Many contacted the Diocese (which did nothing since the decision was in accordance with church policy), some contacted the priests of the neighboring parishes (same thing), and a few went as far as leaving letters on our windshields during the morning masses, asking for all of us to call the Diocese and plead on their behalf.

As a fellow mom commented, that last attempt "wasn't very Catholic of them". Oh, and the last statement of, "please help us, this could happen to you!"... obviously they don't know our priests. Or our principal. Or our vice principal.

But anyway...

The Monday after the firing our school office was swamped with new families trying to get their kids into our school. The flood only increased after attempts at rectifying the situation failed.

So our April registration date has been moved to February so admissions can get a head start on processing all of the applications.

The school has a policy of putting returning students and their siblings first as far as admissions go, then depends on a mix of factors such as being part of the parish, grades, recommendations, family interviews... you get the idea.

It's a helluva lot of work just to consider one new student much less a sizable portion of another schools student body. I don't envy admissions at all at the moment. Not only do they have a huge pile of paperwork to wade through, but parents of kids in Catholic schools are not known for their patience in waiting for a decision especially if they've applied to many schools as a form of insurance.

Plus we have the best school in the area, Catholic or no, and everyone knows it (yes, I love the school that much).

So in order to not step on anyone's toes, all current families have been asked to submit their applications NOW in order to make sure places are reserved for those who wish to return BEFORE new applications are considered.

While I appreciate that the school is making sure that returning students and their siblings are considered first, I'm a little annoyed that it's FEBRUARY and I'm filling out the school application and submitting immunization records.

Oh well, could have been worse. This could have happened in October.

Oh, and I don't even want to think about the enrollment numbers at St. Thomas for next year. This has been a truly nasty business, done in accordance with canon law or no. I don't think St. Thomas will be the same for quite a while to come; and while I do not have the knowledge to even think about questioning the priest's decision I somehow don't think he expected quite this response. No priest wants to see his parish torn apart.

Chalk another one up to the law of unintended consequences.