Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Kindergarten Orientation Day: The good the bad and the irritating

Today was our first time visiting the new school Leah will attend this fall. I still can't believe that this child is almost 5 years old. She has grown so fast. Her days until becoming an elementary student are coming close. Leah is really excited about being able to ride the school bus. Perhaps the new school part will be neat too but that school bus ride has a lot to offer. Olivia pointed out that she is not willing to leave her rainbow school, she is quite happy there and is concerned that she will have to go to school with Leah. Leah did say today that she is going to miss Olivia when she goes to kindergarten. I reassured her that going to school during the day does not mean she will be away from her family forever. She must think it will be a long time away.

After going through this registering process today I figured that I'd share with you the torture that is called registering your child for Kindergarten in my County:

Step one:
Call the school your child will attend and ask what you need to do to register your child for kindergarten. I was told my name was on the list and a packet would be sent in February. (I did this in January packet didn't come until the end of last month.) In the mean time I could download the paperwork bundle to complete in advance.

Step two:
Fill out the paper work located online at the county's school system website. Mind you this takes an hour....why do they need to know so much about my child?

Step three:
Wait for the stupid packet and notice to come in the mail to find out when I will need to register my child. The times were broken down by last name. From 2-4pm on Monday.

Step four:
Go to the registration day at the correct time and hand in paperwork and be nearly verbally insulted.

Which went like this: Stood in line for quite some time, does everyone have the same idea and last name? I handed over my paperwork to the school staff for inspection. You must bring the completed packet along with the child's birth certificate and proof of residency in the county such as a deed or rental agreement. I had all of the appropriate things however the woman sorting through our paperwork gave me a bit of difficulty. Apparently at first my deed did not meet this woman's standards. She pointed out that the address of my property was not in the property description paragraph. She stated that since my address was lacking on the deed it was not sufficient proof of residency and I would have to bring in something more appropriate. I gently reminded her that it does not state anywhere in the instruction packet provided by the government of this County that the specific address had to be evident nor did it indicate that an address had to be located in a particular location on a deed, only proof that I live in the county. A deed with my name on it was in my opinion plenty enough evidence and considering that a tax map number and a property description on a deed is legal and binding. I was a tad irritated by her refusal to accept my deed as proof. I mentioned that I had worked as a real estate paralegal and each deed is written slightly different but legally my deed is acceptable proof of my residency. I added that I was confused by the misinformation being provided in the packets and via the County website. She was getting pissy with me at that point. (Which I admit I do not respond well to and of course we can't forget that I am always right.)

By this time the super rude lady next to her began to interrupt and essentially tell me I am wrong and to get the proper paperwork. I wasn't going to leave until one of them could indicate to me exactly what I was missing and what I would need to provide. The rude lady said I would need to call my property attorney to get the deed corrected or go through the deed and find the page that has my address on it or call the court and get a statement indicating my address and then bring that back. Using her best condescending tone the woman initially handling my registration began to dismiss me by handing me my paperwork and instructing me to return with the proper paperwork as indicated by her colleague. I couldn't believe how she and this other woman were ganging up on me and being so rude! They were not even being helpful, just terribly uncaring and insulting. I wasn't going to back down on this one; After watching these two ladies in action for the past 30 minutes I was not so willing to take their abuse like the other parents. I pointed out once more that in my experience deeds describe the location of the property in three ways: a parcel map description (which mine has), an address or as a descriptive paragraph indicating property boundaries. Actually a fourth can include a combination of any of the previous mentioned options. So I asked what they are really looking for. Finally the lady handling my paperwork said "I am looking for something in the side margin, that has your address on it." I pointed to the lower left corner of my deed to the court recording stamp and said "You mean this stamp here?" She looked at me and said "Oh. Yes that will do."

What an absolute moron. Both of them. I can't believe how abusive they were given they were asking me to do something so unnecessary, have my deed changed to reflect my address. They were really looking for the court recording stamp not my address in the property description. I wanted to say all sorts of things to them like "Hey next time say you need to see the court recording stamp." Or "Learn how to read a deed." And that rude woman claimed to have worked in the title business for twelve years, clearly she was being generous with her experience. This woman along with the other lady should be sent to work elsewhere. I can't believe how difficult, pushy and rude they were to everyone. The other incidents included the names of children. You see there are many international people living in this area because of this many of the enrolling children have been born in other countries. Considering that other cultures do not name people in the same manner as we here in the US I would not expect non-US birth certificates be formatted in the same manner as those from the United States. However according to these irate women enforcing the county's public school enrollment rules all birth certificates should adhere to US standards. (Could it be because these two idiots can't or won't see anything that isn't plainly put in front of their face?)

There were two parents in front of me that were told that their child's birth certificates were not acceptable. The family directly in front of me were from China. Their son's name is (not his real name using a made up one please do not be offend) Yan Fu Feng, Feng being what we would consider the surname. First the woman helping them asked if they wanted their son to go by an Americanized "nickname". They firmly said no. She asked them three more times, explaining how other parents do this. Clearly she was trying to use a sick form of peer pressure to convince them to give their son an American name. How disrespectful! When they refused by stating that they have already named their son and were not going to give him an American "nickname"she gave up. As she went through the application documents she noticed a difference between the birth certificate and the application form. Apparently the way his name was written on the application form was not acceptable in relation to the birth certificate. They indicated on the application that his "first" name is Yan but the way his name was ordered on the birth certificate (the surname is listed first) the application will have to be corrected. Meaning he will need to put the surname as the first name. The father pointed out that in China names are customized and do not fit into the Americanized way. He continued to explain that the surname is always listed first then the "first" name. Yet that rude woman was not accepting his explanation of his son's birth certificate. She told them firmly that if they wanted their son to go by Yan that they would have to have the birth certificate corrected. Yes you read correctly, have the Chinese government change the birth certificate just so their son can be called by his given name. I cannot believe that! I was enraged for that family. I didn't stay around to learn the resolution.

Step five: Visit the classrooms and meet the teachers.
This was fun and Leah enjoyed exploring the rooms. We will get to return in September for another meet the teacher day and that will include the bus ride and other fun stuff. Leah is really looking forward to that day.

I am so glad the registration process is over, I can understand why many parents in DC choose private over public schools. When a school takes your money directly they tend to treat you more like a client rather than an inconvenience.

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