Nasty Parents and This Opportunity to Vent

  1. I've had quite a few run-ins with a parent this school year. First it was about being out of compliance with came into my office screaming and cursing (with students in the office!) when all she ended up doing was signing an exemption and storming out of my office. Then a couple of weeks later, her daughter was found to have live lice and nits. School policy states that we have to send them home. On the phone the mom was yelling about how there's no way her daughter has lice and how I have no idea what I'm doing, but finally came to pick her daughter up. Policy states I have to do a classroom check and none of the other students had lice, however I sent letters asking parents to continue checking at home, just in case. For a few days after I continued to check the girl's hair, but the girl never got completely rid of it. I continued to call mom to check in on if she needed any help, extra tips, etc, but only ended up being yelled at. At one point there were only a few nits and the girl said her mom was combing throught every night, so I documented that, and refrained from having to contact mom. I became more relaxed about calling her in to check; the nits were almost gone.
    Well last week, a month after only having a few nits, she came into my office itching her head. She had tons of nits and live lice. I called mom who demanded that I check one of her firends because she "knows it came from there, there's no way it came from my house".The girl was in her daughter's classroom so I explained that I would do a classroom check. She continued to yell and curse and essentially blamed me for the reinfestation. I attempted to (through all the yelling) explain that this most likely was not a reinfestation, that all it takes is one louse to be left behind and lay eggs. After our "conversation" I did the classroom check, which was clear, and again sent home the letters.
    Later that day I get a call from theDepartment of Health Services concerned that a parent feels that I'm not adequetly taking care of the lice problem. SERIOUSLY?! I explained that as he should know, I can only control what happens at school, and since it is under control here, the issue is residing in the home. I thought that was the end of it, but as I was on the phone with DHS, in storms the mom demanding to talk to the principal. She yelled, pushed all blame on me, and demanded that I leave my office and go buy the treatment for the girl.
    So now I'm $15 out to this nasty parent and it's a week later. The girl's teacher brings in a 2 page letter from the mom with rude remarks towards the teacher because her daughter has lice again (mom needs to get it's not happening AGAIN, it's the same infestation). The teacher explains she feels harrassed, and I told her to send the child in so that I could check her hair and that I would call mom. The kiddo had a few nits, no live lice on her, so I called the mom to address the lice issue. Her first words were, "I'm gonna start yelling!", and she did. She ended up coming in to talk with the principal, refused to speak with me anymore, and stormed out.
    That was yesterday. Today, the mom contacted the principal stating they saw a "professional" last night and the girl's hair was clear, and that I was targeting the family. The girl was sent in for a hair check (which was clear) but told me the hair stylist, yes that's the professional, had found a few nits but removed them all. I love how the child has a different story!! I documented this, and luckily the principal was in the room so she signed off on that documentation! Well hoping all problems has subsided, we just got word that a board member has been contacted and that the thoughts of her filing a lawsuit are in the air. Now the principal and I are writing reports to go to the superintendant and school board!!
    How do you handle parents like that?? I'm baffled that a parent would go this far about LICE and be as rude as she has been. How embarrassing this must be for the child!
  2. Visit bleemadden profile page

    About bleemadden

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 36; Likes: 21
    Health Aide; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience


  3. by   Flare
    How were you out $15? Did you actually buy treatment for them? And what on earth is she calling the state of you and threatening law suits for? You've done nothing wrong from your description.
    My first piece of advice is under no circumstance should you deal with this parent by yourself. If you have to call home, clear you r office, get someone (the principal preferably) and explain to the mom that you have her on speaker phone and that so and so is there.This parents actions are inappropriate and surely are causing you unnecessary stress. I've been there - that awful feeling of agita after getting your butt handed to you by a parent despite the fact that you are right. If the parent comes to your office, call the front office and tell them that you need the principal there asap.
    My second piece of advice - don't let people like this take up occupancy in your head. They will bring you down, they will fill you with doubt and they will stress you out. Let them live in their moment only and move on.
    The thing that stinks is that in any other setting other than public education, a parent braying on like a ****** like that would be shown the door and told never to return - but in public education we're expected to take things like this on the chin.
    Last edit by JustBeachyNurse on Oct 20, '12 : Reason: ToS-profanity
  4. by   bleemadden
    Yes I had to buy the treatment with my own money because "the school using funding from sources other than our health source would tie things up". Unfortunately that day, the person who has the Visa for the health source was out and the card couldn't be accessed. I'm yet to be reimbursed...

    The principal has been in the room the last couple of phone calls, and I guess my biggest issue is that nobody will stand up to these parents and put them in their place. The parent is now refusing to speak with me because I'm "at fault" for the lice...good to know I have the ability to give lice to kids! I guess last year the school had all the same problems with this mom with lice, bus routing, and teachers and it never ended. At what point does the district finally say (in more appropriate terms) "You're crazy and unless you stop trying to sabotage our staff, your child will need to attend another school"?

    It's so hard not to take anything personal when every jab is directed toward upsets me that while I have so many other things to do, I'm writing a report to the school board because a parent is upset about lice. Not a life-threatening issue, not a wrong-doing of staff; no, lice.
  5. by   morte
    you could consider an antidefamation suit.....see how she likes being on the other side.
  6. by   mc3
    Ah, yes. Crazy Moms.... Such a delight, huh? Have had several such encounters, although not as nasty as yours sounds. We're VERY fortunate in our school district. We have a "Civility Policy" in place. It's in our student handbook, which is required to have parents sign. Our administrators back us up. We have the right not to stand for being spoken to in a threatening tone, yelling, badgering, intimidating, bullyied, being sworn at etc. If it starts, I ask the office to contact a principal or AP to come to the clinic immediately. If the behavior escalates, the police can and will be called. If it's a phone call, we give them two warnings "Ma'm if you continue to speak in that tone, I'm going to hang up the phone." We've been told we're f***ing idiots and other such blather almost weekly. I was just screamed at and called a "bad nurse" because I wouldn't change a surgical dressing without a doctors order.... I would just as soon let the child die, according to the mother.... Sometimes it gets to me, but I have a great relationship with the front office clerk and secretaries, who take much more abuse than me. We laugh and makes jokes about it, and it helps us to keep things in perspective. I don't know what the answer is.......people have lost all sense of civility. It's the me me me generation, and when they don't get want they want, the have an adult-size tantrum.

    P.S. I also have a "jar of lice" in my desk, which I take out and sprinkle on students I want to pick on!
  7. by   misty_dawn
    I am going through pretty much the same thing with a parent if you got a chance to see my post. Mine was dealing with strep throat and the parent yelled at me over the phone as well as writing the superintendent, principal and health services director stating that I was diagnosing them and out of my scope of practice and yelling in my office and calling her names in front of the kids (none of which happened) all because she did not want to come and pick up the little kid after she dropped them off from a physicians office visit where they were diagnosed and ordered antibiotics. I too was working under an exclusion policy for communicable diseases but they dont get that. She wanted to enjoy her day off. AND its all my fault I am in the wrong for taking them out of class. We had to do a whole investigation with everyone who came in contact with her and signed written statements ect ect. The principal along with a witness questioned the girls about things that were supposedly said and of course we know that she is lying in her letter. She even went as far as saying that I should lose my job and license.

    It does worry me as I have always had a clean employment record. This is my first time doing school nursing and I dont want it ruined by one parent. Now each time anyone has contact with these parents we are to have a witness listening in just to protect us. Thankfully my office is attached to the office and the office secretary heard everything I said to her on the phone and wrote a statement. It is hard to keep it out of your head and not let it consume you, but you have a school of other children to look after and take up your time. Try not to think about it. As long as you are following policy and doing everything you are supposed to in relation to classroom checks, ect you are doing nothing wrong. It is hard not to take things personally but dont let her consume any more time than this parent has. Some people just want to be heard and blame everyone else except for themselves. Hopefully in both of our cases the administration looks at this like a crazy parent and tells her that you are doing nothing wrong- but I am sure they wont like that answer and will throw a fit about that too.
  8. by   Jolie
    I'm going to suggest a slightly different approach here. Please don't misunderstand my post to be critical of your actions. I realize that you are working under school district policies and procedures that require exclusion of students with live lice and/or nits, and that also require checks of classmates. I do not excuse the mother's abusive conduct in any way. But I believe that your district's policies may have fueled the entire unpleasant mess.

    Children with head lice pose absolutely no public health threat in the day school setting. Lice do not cause illness, nor are they easily transmitted by normal classmate-to classmate contact. I am not aware of any reputable public health agency that continues to recommend excluding students for nits, or even live lice, except in the situation that the student is so bothered by itching as to be unable to participate in learning. Exclusion policies only address the psychological comfort and convenience of school staff and quell vocal parents who perceive a threat that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, a child loses valuable educational time and parents lose vital work hours to address a problem that is virtually impossible to fully eradicate over night, meaning multiple days of absences for both parent and child. I understand their frustration, although again, that doesn't justify abusive behavior.

    While not a quick solution, I strongly advocate working to change district policy. If we expect our students to learn the scientific basis of their lessons, to cite authoritative sources to support their ideas, and to apply sound reasoning in decision making, then we must do so first, as an example. Excluding students because that's what has always been done falls far short. Secondly, we are typically the sole health care/public health "experts" in our buildings or districts, and as such must challenge the educational administrators when they attempt to enforce policies and procedures that are contrary to scientific and public health principles. As I have reminded a few people, they hired me for this expertise. They can either follow my advice, or sign their own names to the directives that I know to be faulty. (That one usually gets them ). Lastly, hit them in the pocketbook. Most states fund school districts at least in part based upon average daily attendance. If nothing else works, remind your well-meaning, but mis-guided leadership that excluding students unnecessarily for head lice is costing them money. Your time is valuable also, and could be far better spent in any number of ways rather than checking a class-ful of heads every time a nit or louse is found. If you had been free to devote that hour to the affected student and her mom, I suspect that your day might have gone a little better.

    I realize that change takes time. Perhaps you can make some incremental changes that won't seem so shocking to the staff and parents. If you were able to notify a parent of a suspected lice infestation, but send the child home at the end of the day, that might be a step toward promoting good-will with the parents, who almost never react well. Mom and dad don't lose a day's work, and can address the problem that evening. You can have printed information available for them. If they choose to utilize a hair stylist to assist in removing nits, I applaud them. Sectioning a thick head-ful of hair takes incredible patience and time, and hair care professionals are well-suited to this tedious work.

    Finally, to address the mother's abusive treatment: I just don't take it. I learned decades ago in the in-patient setting not to put up with abuse from anyone. I will calmly state once, "I will be happy to continue this conversation when you are able to address me respectfully." Then I hang up or walk away. I liken her behavior to that of a toddler's temper tantrum. No amount of discussion will get thru, so don't waste your time, or give her the satisfaction of commanding your attention.

    I'm sorry you had to endure this.
  9. by   misty_dawn
    I was curious about our law regarding lice in school because our district policy states that children with live lice must be sent home but with only nits they can stay at school as long as they are treated at home. Thought this was pretty interesting though.

    Here is what our state law says:

    Managing Head Lice (Pediculosis) in School Settings and at Home

    According to Texas Law a child must be sent home from school if live lice are found in their hair. They will be allowed to return to school after one medicated treatment has been given or they bring a note from a physician saying they have been cleared to return to school. When the child returns to school, a head check is not required by law and there is no requirement to report cases of head lice to officials.
    Each school district may make additional head lice policies and toughen up this law…and some do. Talk to the school nurse or someone else in charge to find out what the school policy is in your district.
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Jolie is exactly right.

    And this issue comes up so often we should make a stickie with links. Here are parts of some of the many threads here about this issue:

    "Pediculosis is considered a nuisance disease as well as an infestation. It is not an emergency! Siblings of children with headlice should have a head check. Classroom head checks need only be done if there are more than two known cases in the class. An information letter should be sent home if there are more than 5 or 6 cases in a school at a given time. This information can also be sent in the school newsletter."

    NASN (National Association of School Nurses) Statement:


    A free webinar:

    Why were my children sent home from school and why do they have a 'no nits' policy?

    The no-nits policies, variously drafted and adopted by school administrations, are supposedly designed to reduce the transmission of lice by excluding infested children from school. Whereas these policies may be meritorious in principle, they are virtually always counterproductive when applied. School nurses are generally amongst the most capable to spot signs of infestation, but often lack the expertise, time and equipment to distinguish active from inactive infestations. School personnel and parent volunteers often conduct mass-screenings in misguided and failed attempts to identify infested children and ensure their treatment. Concerned parents, nurses and school administrators may find it valuable to cooperate by helping to draft rational policies. The discovery of lice or their eggs on the hair should not cause the child to be sent home or isolated. Furthermore, treatment is not indicated if the infestation is not active.. . . . . . . . . . .
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Oct 21, '12
  11. by   bleemadden
    I completely agree that children do not need to be sent home for lice but it was a policy put into effect because of complaints of parents that they don't want their children catching lice! No matter what we have upset parents. If we don't send them home we "aren't taking care of the problem" but if we do try sending them home, we "are targeting the families" or "burdoning the families for something that isn't an issue". Gotta love it! I love the idea of contacting parents and keeping kids in school the remainder of the day for them to be treated at home after school. All-in-all 4 more hours of staying in school isn't going to make a difference. I've done way too much research about lice and all of it is conclusive in saying lice is not a threat, it's just a nuisance, and holy heck it is!

    My mom is a teacher and warned me that parents are the worst part about working for a public school system, and she couldn't be more right!! We see the worst of everything. We see the parents who just don't care and treat children like garbage, or parents who "care" too much and will complain about everything just because they can. I worked in a nursing home for 3 years before this and family complaints (from individuals distraught about a loved one's end of life or those grieving a lost one) didn't cause as much havoc as this mom and she's upset about lice!!! I just don't understand people and their motivations.

    Next year I am definitely pushing for new policies about lice and how parents are handled. Our policies are in a handbook that all parents have to sign and as problems arise, I would love to have that as a tool. Right now our health policies are so vague or just innacurrate and it makes me want to rip my hair out!
  12. by   bleemadden
    And as Spidey's Mom's Q&A states, we don't have the time or equipment to determine whether an infestation is active or not. Our school policy doesn't even take an inactive infestation into account. I could go on and on about why I hate our policies, but I'm sure ya'll are having the same problems!
  13. by   caregiver1977
    Unless I missed something, I still don't understand why the OP had to buy the treatment. After the way the OP was handled, someone should have been buying the OP a $15 lunch!

    This has to be horribly embarrassing for the student.

    Maybe your school also has to develop a plan and a policy for parents who like to barge into wherever they like in the school. We are still working on this where I work.
  14. by   RNsRWe
    I'm genuinely surprised--and not happily--that there are school nurses who feel a lice infestation is NOT a reason to keep a child out of public school? Honestly?

    It isn't easily transmittable between classmates? Not likely in older students, but younger ones seem to manage to always have their heads together at play or at a group project, lose their hats and grab someone else's by mistake, same with jackets--I've seen it plenty in the K-3 set (as a parent in the classroom).

    I don't care if it's not a "health risk" by the definitions cited; it's a highly contagious insect infestation that can cause intense discomfort--not just to the original child but to every entire household that is placed at risk for infestation. How about the child who scratches until he bleeds? Perhaps the risk of infection might be a concern?

    I'm no psycho mom, but I'm quite certain that if there's a child who is allowed to stay in school and therefore allowed to infect other children, I'll have something to say about it. My son once caught lice, and of course I kept him home until it was cleared--as was the school policy. As is the current school policy, and the school policy of every school they've ever been in....thankfully.