Break the Chain Please Leave A Message

Created 5/6/2003 (5/6/2003) In the world of e-mail chain letters, things we want to be true are often assumed to be so. As a result, even the funniest of jokes is not so obvious once stamped with the assurance that "this is a true story."


The following is an answering machine message for the Pacific Palisades High School in California. The school and teachers were being sued by parents who wanted their children's failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

This was voted unanimously by the office staff as the actual answering machine message for the school:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting with the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child did not do his/her work - Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

To request another teacher for the third time this year - Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable/responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child(ren)'s lack of effort, hang up and have a nice day!"


Plagued by continuing attendance problems, Palisades Charter High School in 1998, instituted a strict attendance policy in which any student that was absent without valid excuse ten or more days during a single semester would be failed, regardless of his or her academic performance. In February 2002, 130 Palisades High students received failing grades under this policy. - free web hosting. Free hosting with no banners.
Outcry was immediate and severe, despite the school's extensive efforts to notify students and parents of the policy. Los Angeles Unified School District officials sided with parents, stating that the policy may not be valid because it was not approved by the school board. Palisades officials countered that, as a charter school, they were exempt from governance by the board and free to make their own policies. They also argued that board members approved the attendance policy when they approved the school's charter.

The controversy put a spotlight on what many teachers feel is a growing problem: that their efforts to effectively educate the children trusted to them are often thwarted by politically powerful parents. Its this sentiment that led to the creative, yet fictional, phone message above. It was created by an anonymous author as a bit of humor to cynically express teachers' frustrations. It was never "voted unanimously by the office staff." In fact, Palisades Charter High School doesn't even have a menu-based phone system. Break this chain.

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Category: No Joke Too Obvious

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