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School district apologizes for principal’s parent-shaming voicemail

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SPANAWAY, Wash. – A Pierce County elementary school principal is apologizing to parents for a voicemail he left for families that some call disrespectful.

Only 18 parents showed up to the annual third-grade parents night at Chester H Thompson Elementary School in Spanaway.

In response, the school’s principal sent a terse letter and voicemail threatening to punish students for their parents’ absence.

The district insists it notified all families about the open house but turnout was dismal.

Now the district is apologizing for the principal’s tone and threats to punish kids.

Brandon Hash says he got a rude voicemail last night – but it wasn’t a stranger on the line, it was his third-grade son’s school principal.

“It went way too far,” he said.

“Tonight we had our annual third-grade parent night. Unfortunately, we only had 18 families there. This is unacceptable,” the principal said in the message.

Hash says the voicemail got worse from there, the principal then threatened to punish his child with detention if dad didn’t offer a legitimate excuse for his absence.

“We’re a team. Unfortunately, too many of you let down your kids, our kids, your child, tonight,” the voicemail said. “I do recognize that your child is being punished for you not coming to parent night, but if we don’t work together now and in the future then your child will be the one who pays the price.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more disrespected as a parent and a member of the community,” said Hash.

Hash says he didn’t know anything about the parent night and says his son didn’t tell him either.

But the district insists teachers sent parents emails, shared fliers in backpacks, posted the event on the school’s Facebook page and more.

The school district declined an on-camera interview but told Q13 News in a statement they’re working with the principal to apologize for the tone in his message to parents, saying his passion for parental involvement got the better of him.

Read the full statement here:

  • “We are aware of this situation and are working with the principal to contact parents and apologize for the tone of the email sent last night.“In writing his email, the principal’s passion for parent involvement got the better of him, and the email should not have been sent.“As soon as the district became aware of the situation, we were in contact with the principal. He drafted a second email, apologizing to parents, that was also sent last night.“The new email states that no students are receiving detention because of parents’ absence at the open house. The new email also invites every parent who wants to further discuss their concerns, to contact the principal today.“This morning the principal is contacting every parent who reached out to the district and the school about the original email. He has cleared his schedule and is ready to work with any parent who wants to speak with him this morning.

But for Hash, the apology isn’t enough – he plans to complain to the school board and he wants the principal to lose his job.

“I told him I will not stop until he resigns,” said Hash.

The school district says they’ve reached out to all parents so the principal can get a do-over for the poorly attended parent night. And the district insists no kids will be put in detention for their parents missing the event.