What To Do When A Parent Complains About Another Teacher At Your School

In a perfect world parents would bring up their concerns about their child with the teacher involved with that child, since that's about the best way to solve the problem. For a number of psychological reasons, parents will sometimes come to a teacher to complain about another teacher.

Why Do Parents Complain About One Teacher To Another Teacher?

There's a few reasons why parents do this. Here's a quick summary:

  • They have talked through their concern with the teacher in question and haven't "gotten their way", and figure they will somehow apply pressure by complaining to another staff member.
  • They want to vent, or complain, and don't have a real interest in solving the concern.
  • They are trying to manipulate and sow seeds of discontent.
  • They feel they have a better relationship with you than they do with the other teacher.

How To Respond

Your relationship with the parent is to work with them on issues over which you have direct control. Your role is usually not to get involved as a third party, between a parent and another teacher. The exception is when the parental complaint has to do with illegal activities, or activities that put a child or children at risk. The latter situations are rare.

Don't get caught in the middle.

Suggest to the parent that the best course of action is to take the issue up with the teacher, since that's the best way to solve the problem.

Refocus the parent back to what is relevant to YOUR position. For example: "You might want to try again talking to Mr. Russell about this, since you obviously feel strongly about this, but let's you and I focus on what we both can do together right now."

You may consider letting the other teacher know that you've been contacted about him or her. However, it's best to ask the parent before doing so. Like this: "If you like, I can mention to Mr. Russell that you still have the concern." Are you OK with that?"

Remember that people do like to gossip, or pit one teacher against another, so unless there is a clear issue regarding the child, or legal and illegal activities, don't get drawn into someone else's "domain".