Monday, April 27, 2015

Questions to Myself.

Life has become much like the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day”.  Things bleed into one another from one to the next.  It becomes a routine, déjà vu almost.  One task to the next has become like the ticking of a clock.  Wake the boys, make breakfast, greet Laura when she arrives home, talk with Laura for a few minutes before she goes to bed and then it’s a cavalcade of task.  I look at the daily “job boards”, pick-up the house, do laundry, make lunch for the boys, make dinner and lunch for Laura if she must work that day and if the weather is nice enough take the boys outside to play.  The afternoon and night is the same, routine, déjà vu. 

The monotony of it all has given me a chance to contemplate many things once the boys go to sleep.  I think about; politics, social problems in America, sports, movies and most recently wondering just why I have so many “friends” on Facebook or "connections" on LinkedIn.  I have thought about that for the last couple of weeks and have come to the conclusion that I don’t have a clue.  I enjoy reading some of the updates, seeking the photos and I get a laugh from the videos that some post.  I guess being honest I also enjoy seeing the new things in former co-workers lives on LinkedIn but it’s when I close the laptop for the day that I realize just how much I truthfully question if I care anymore and  wonder just why do I have so many “friends” and “connections”. 

Social media can be a good thing but it can also be an amazing falsehood that serves only to make one feel better or more important than they actually are.  I think about my Mother and Father when I was growing up and somehow feel like they were more “grounded” then much of my generation, maybe even including me, as they seemed to grasp just what was and wasn't important.  We share our meals, our child’s daily lives, what conferences or training's we have completed, what new motivational speaker or sayings we like but do we or rather I, actually have ourselves rooted in what is truly important?  I have no clue.  Some days I think I do but other days, yeah, not so much.   

I know that I am guilty of posting the same things as others on Facebook (kid’s photos, stupid videos and so on) and oftentimes after doing it I wonder to myself “why”.  I have learned to justify it by saying that I tagged the kids Grandparents or Aunts in the post so that they can be informed with what is happening with the kids but really, I could do the same thing with an email even if it would take a couple of extra steps.  LinkedIn has become a little like a CD player for me, it’s around I just don’t use it.  As I started to sit down and write this I checked my last “update” and smiled when I realized that it was more than a month ago.   There was a time when I would check it every single day and make sure that I “congratulated” folks with a work anniversary, new job or title and of course birthday but now, not so much.  I sent out an email through LinkedIn to a little more than one-hundred of my “connections” back in January 2013 and again in November 2014 as I continued to search for employment and to be honest I received a grand total of seven replies and all but one was the “I wish I could help” condolence.  I think about that and I wonder, “what’s the point?” 

It’s hard to be honest.  Actually it’s (without being offensive) fucking soul crushing.  The day to day monotony that never changes in appearance and rarely changes in activity or function.  I have now been unemployed for the majority of time since October 2012.  Thirty months.  21,914.5 hours.  Damn. 

I think about it and I no longer have a clue as to what I should do, honestly, I don’t.  I think about my past and know that there was a time that I was employed not only full time but a time when I held two full time jobs at once.  I worked hard.  After spending four years on active duty in the Military I was able to graduate from college in exactly four years and one month from the date of my discharge.  Hell, by the time I was thirty-five I had been hired to be the Executive Director of a Non-Profit.   Now today at the age of 47 I can’t get a call back for even the most menial of jobs.  Damn. 

All of the “changes” have in many ways worn me down.  My credit score was once over 800 and I owned two homes.  Today, whew, I don’t even want to know.  Back in 2004 I cashed out a retirement plan to purchase a home and then with everything ended up losing that home.  I figured I was young and to be honest at the time felt like I had just taken what would be the last job I ever held because in truth, I loved it that much.   Then after a few surprises get dropped it forces change.  I found I no longer had a “social work” license in Michigan.  Not because I did anything wrong but because the fee to renew the license was never sent in and as my degree is in “Corrections and Juvenile Services” I am not actually “grandfathered in” for the new licensing requirements in Michigan so after 15 years working in that field you get closed out.  Then you find the surprise of a court order that demands back taxes from the City of Toledo.  The downside is that since you never knew you were supposed to go to court you have a default judgment against you.  Thankfully I was able to cash out another retirement plan and settle with them but in the end that’s just a short term gain long term loss to be honest.  It’s all frustrating. 

The good things are all thanks to Laura.  She is and has been amazing.  The truth is that I know I don’t deserve her and oftentimes feel like I am a drain on her.  She likes to tell me that I am getting the chance to be with the boys and to take care of them and I know that’s true but it's not what I want to be doing as a man.  I don’t have anything against a guy that wants to stay at home and raise his kids if that’s his choice.  For me it’s not a choice but something that has been forced upon me.  It makes me feel daily that I don’t contribute to the home and that I don’t do anything to truly be a father. 

Father, that’s another thing that annoys me.  Honestly, I am so tired of hearing from family and some friends on Facebook about how I am a “good Dad”.  I don’t feel like it and honestly hearing it doesn't change my thoughts and feelings.  I try to be respectful to people and I listen to them but in the end what my “mind” is telling me is that I am not really a good Dad.  While I am with Ethan and Ian daily and I see Jacob, Hannah and Knoah every other weekend, I contribute minimally to them through child support because of my job situation and when I am with them I feel guilty that I can do little for them or with them.  It’s debilitating to be honest.

Some days I will look at what people share and want to scream.  Look, I know that work can suck and that co-workers can be a pain in the ass but guess what - if that's really the worse problem you have things are going pretty damn good, ya know.

The thing is that I am not looking for sympathy or understanding or even for folks to relate to what I am going through.  We have all been in this position at one point or another I know that.  It's just that the question I have to ponder is if I really need to have just one more reminder of the unending repetition that is Monday - Sunday.  It's basically rinse, wash, repeat.  

So I wonder what the point of social media is for me.  I used to enjoy posting on a local bulletin board about politics, sports and so on but a little more than a year ago I left that board because one of the regular posters thought it was “cool” to accuse another poster of being a suspect in the killing of a child.  My reason for leaving the board was that if the moderators were not going to address behavior like that then did I really want to associate with a board that allowed such reckless accusations. (I should point out that the person being accused was not anonymous).  I am now thinking that with all things considered, social media is no longer for me.  I don’t see the point, to be honest.  Sure it has given me a chance to be happy for others and to enjoy seeing folks children as they get bigger but it’s also made me question the “value” of such connections for me.  Maybe right now it’s just me and I won’t discount that at all.  I know that I am in a rut, I get it, I accept it.  I don’t want to sound like I have embraced my “groundhog days” but I don’t see an alternative.  I was ran down recently on social media by Jacob, Hannah and Knoah’s Mother about the size of my contribution and as bad as I feel the reality is that my only defense is that I have applied for more than 2,180 jobs since Oct '12 and have went to interviews from as close to Dundee to as far away as Virginia in the hope of gaining a job!  Hell, in truth I have never been one to ask for help but as I said earlier I have sent out more than 200 emails requesting assistance and still here I am.  Groundhog Day.  It’s tiring.  It’s taxing.  It’s frustrating.  It’s angering.  It’s my life and I just don’t know if I want to share it on social media any longer.  Maybe someday things will be different but for now, I have a lot to think about and I certainly have the time to do so.  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

For the last time . . . .

Over the last few years things for me professionally have be very difficult.  There are tons of reasons why and sometimes I feel like I am fighting a horrible losing battle to "fix" things.  It's hard when I think about just a few years ago I was in a very good position financially and professionally.  As a man it's sometimes debilitating when you're alone and think about how you are unable to do the things you want for your children.  You sometimes feel worthless and oftentimes begin to question yourself.  Being depressed about it is a daily occurrence  and fighting off those feelings to ensure you don't bring down those around is a task that consumes you hour by hour and minute by minute.  You feel minimized, You feel small.  You feel like a failure.  

But sometimes you are reminded of the good that you have and that you must count your blessings.  I have the greatest woman in the world in Laura.  She is sincere, loving, beautiful, supportive, helpful, insightful, happy, playful, talented and most of all the owner of my heart.  

I also know that I have five of the most wonderful children on this earth.  They are amazingly smart, funny, helpful, respectful and loving.  It's difficult to be a "stay at home Dad".  You feel "less" even though you are with your children daily.  To find the balance is hard.  

Last week I took the physical test for a job that I greatly want and will hopefully find out soon if I have been selected.  I want this position as much as I have ever wanted any job.  Being honest I know that it's not the "dream job" that I would love to have but I know that job will never occur for me again.  Yet I know that I need this position as it is stable and has wonderful pay and benefits.   I also know that if I am awarded the position I will miss out on seeing Ethan and Ian daily and that will be a loss.  

Laura shared this poem with me and I have been reading it over and over.  It has impacted me more than anything has in a long time and reminded me to keep in mind that while I am struggling professionally, I am a father and I love my children more than I love air itself.  
"The Last Time"  
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before, 
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.
But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times, remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will year for just one more day of them.  For one last time.  
-Author Unknown-
You can also find this poem at My Kids Time (blog).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Can we be honest? Please.

One-hundred and fifty years ago the United States was not so "United".  Eleven states decided that the didn't want the Federal Government to impose laws upon them that would change the way of life they had grown accustomed to and so they made the decision to secede from the Union between 1860-61.  The movement quickly gained momentum after the November 1860 election of  Pres. Abraham Lincoln and within three months seven states had voted to secede.

South Carolina was so quick to move that both Senators resigned before the close of 1860 (before the newly elected Pres. Lincoln had taken office) and on 20 December 1860 the South Carolina State Legislature voted 169-0 to leave the Union, almost 90 days before Pres. Lincoln would assumed office on 4 March 1961.  Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas would all vote to leave the Union before 1 February 1961 or 31 days before Pres. Lincoln was sworn in.  On February 4, 1861 these states met in Montgomery (AL) and created a government they named "Confederate States of America" (CSA) and elected Jefferson Davis as President of the CSA.

Sen. John J. Crittenden (KY), before Pres. Lincoln took office, proposed the 36 - 30 degree line all the way to the Pacific and making all territories north of that line "free states" and all south would receive Federal Protection and slavery would be allowed.  Ever single Republican in office refused to support this measure.  Pres. James Buchanan, who was still in office, felt the succession was illegal but did nothing and chose to allow the situation to marinate until Pres. Lincoln would be sworn in.

While many have made the argument that the desire to leave the Union was based on "states rights", an "overreach" by the Federal Government or even "taxation / tariffs" the reality is that nearly every state that voted to leave the Union included language in their Declaration of Causes similar to South Carolina which stated; "The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor."   It was Jefferson Davis who said on the floor of the Mississippi Legislature in 1858 that, "It seems now to be probable that the Abolitionist and their allies will have control of the next House of Representatives, and it may well be inferred from their past course that they will attempt legislature both injuries and offensive to the south".  It's difficult for us to understand today but the reality is that slavery was an enormous engine of prosperity in an agricultural economy and any disruption would come at great cost to the slave holders.  If one looks at the 1860 US Census the fact is that there were 3,950,528 slaves in the United States and they accounted for 13% of the entire population.  To imagine simply allowing nearly four million workers "freedom" must have been a terrifying prospect for a community build on slavery.

Those are the facts.  It was understood that Pres. Lincoln and the Republican Party in office wanted to end slavery.  The congregation of folks that met in Jackson (MI) 1854 were specific with their intentions to end the humanitarian crisis that was slavery in America.  The southern politicians understood this and knew when Pres. Lincoln was elected that this ideal would be forwarded so too did the voters who elected Pres. Lincoln.  Pres. Lincoln took a firm position after the 1860 election that expanding slavery into new territory would not be permitted.

I am the forty-seven year old son of parents who were both born and raised in Kentucky.  Much of my family has a connection to the "south".  I have no clue if any of my family supported the Union or the Confederacy as my family history has not been well kept.  I know in doing my own research over the years that part of my family was considered by the US Government (1850 US Census Records) to be "non-white European", whatever the hell that means.  I know that I spent a good deal of my young adult life while in the Military and College in the South (N.C., S.C., GA and KY).

I love history and am proud of the fact that while America willingly engaged in slavery we also threw every bit of our dirty laundry into the streets and fought to end slavery.  We did so at the cost of more than 625,000 lives a figure that is higher than the American death toll in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and the War's in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Slavery was and is wrong.  The southern states that made the decision to illegally succeed did so for one reason and only one reason - economics.  They did not want the Federal Government to change the use of slavery as it was the underpinning of the southern economy.

Today, 150 years after the end of the Civil War, when I see the Confederate Flag in a museum it reminds me of the most abhorrent time in American history and I am fine with that reminder in that context.  When I see folks using the Confederate Flag outside that context and then claiming it is somehow because they are "Southern by the Grace of God" or that "it's my heritage" all I can do is shake my head.  No person alive with any common sense can deny that the formation of the CSA was an effort to keep slavery not just alive but assured so that the agricultural economy of the south could be maintained.  As such the Confederate Flag represents the goal of allowing one class of human to own and control another.  There is nothing about that consistent with "God's Grace".

Some people do wear, wave or invoke the flag because they think it's about being a "rebel".  I can't and won't fault them for such ignorance.  It's the folks that are willfully oblivious to the very bigoted foundation of the flag and wish to evoke some grand "it's about heritage" argument that I find most confusing.  The last Civil War Veteran (Albert Woolson a drummer for the Grand Army of the Republic) died in 1954 some 61 years ago.  I doubt highly that most folks ever met Mr. Woolson or any other Civil War Veteran, The last American allegedly held as a slave (I say allegedly only because some have disputed), Sylvester Magee who died in 1971 (see note below).  There exist no argument that folks utilizing the Confederate Flag today are doing so only out of "history or heritage".  It wasn't until 1956 that Georgia changed their state flag and incorporated the Confederate Flag.  Mississippi adopted the Confederate Flag as part of their state flag in 1894.  Without question adopting this "symbol" wasn't about remembering or protecting history but about standing against civil rights.

Truth is the Confederate Flag is a symbol of bigotry.  It is a symbol of eleven states that chose to leave the Union because they did not want slavery to be changed as it would impact their economy.  As such those states willfully determined that it was more beneficial to keep other humans in slavery instead of granting them freedom.  That is the legacy of the Confederate Flag - period.  If someone is willing to embrace that honestly, OK, they have that right. However don't hide behind some grand ruse that it's only about "heritage" or about some grand "states rights".  It wasn't then and it isn't today.

Note:  Having read a ton about Mr. Magee, personally, I doubt that he was born in 1841.  It's difficult to believe that he lived to be 130 for me.  But there are many that accept the history as he shared it and I see no point in trying to argue against it without concrete proof.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An open letter to GHSD

Dear Grand Haven School District,

I really wanted things to work and be different.  I was supportive and tried to make contact.  When my three oldest children moved into your district in July 2014 I really hoped that it would be a wonderful thing for them and me.

I researched the schools my children would attend and emailed the three school principles in August 2014 to introduce myself and to give the school all of my information.

My emails were not ambiguous.  I didn't say that "maybe" I wanted to be informed or that I really "hoped" you would reach out to me.  I didn't infer that I was anything but a concerned father.

I wrote it off when my initial emails went unanswered for days, weeks and in one occasion months.  I figured that school staff were busy and I didn't want to intrude.  I wanted to be respectful.

I signed up for the weekly "email blast" that all parents receive from all three schools and then signed up for the ParentVUE so that I could track Jacob and Hannah's progress daily.  I was hopeful.

But hope fades when questions go unanswered.  Hope diminishes when concern is expressed that the grades your child is receiving don't really make sense and you fear they are just being "passed along" (it's difficult to imagine that someone can receive an F for a semester grade but get a B on the semester exam and then be awarded credit) and no answer is offered to this concern or the one that is ("the state mandates that if the student passes the exam they are awarded credit") is refuted by the folks (Michigan Department of Education) that as a parent, I am told are actually responsible.  I have learned that questions to HS staff means that they stop emailing.  Nice.  Thank you.  I was hopeful.

I have learned that when Individual Education Plan meetings are "scheduled" that I might receive email notification but I am not actually listed on the invitation as a parent.

Feeling "hopeful" and "supportive" is difficult as when you ask a simple question, like maybe why you aren't listed as a Parent, you are told that it must be a computer issue and that the computer actually has you listed as the adoptive parent ("It is also showing up as you as an adoptive father, that is not correct, is it?").  It's a weird irony to hear this.  It brings back a rush of things from 2001 when as the proud father of a young son (30 months) and a new daughter (five months) you are told that the child you are told is yours truly isn't but is the result of an 18 month affair.  I makes you think - really . . . . is there something I should know? Thanks.  

I have found that telling GHSD staff that no, you are not the adoptive father does get things "fixed" but they are repaired in a snarky, condescending manner that minimizes you.  While you are now added it becomes "biological father" as an addition and Mother stays simply . . . "Mother".  Nice.

But as a parent you want to stay "resilient" for your children.  You want to be involved and included even if you don't feel valued.  So you move on and continue to ask questions and raise concerns.  You contact people in charge to inquire not just about progress but why you are not being involved.

Resiliency, the ability to sustain or spring back into shape could also be seen from the sustained answers you receive from the professionals involved with educating your children.  As a father asking for an "update" you are told that you will be receiving contact from the educators involved and even given the caveat that if you don't to contact the person in charge.

Communication like this builds hope and expectation.  Until you sanitize them with reality and know that it probably won't happen.  Then when little occurs you contact the person in charge because again as a parent you want to be involved.  You want to be resilient.  You want a voice so you follow up.

Yet the follow up is not met with any expression that indicates "gee, this is not OK and we / I am sorry that our professionals are not keeping you informed or contacting you".  Instead it's met with another in a long line of inferred promises.

So you again, hope.  But then you realize that four days after you are told follow up would be taken and seven days after you were told the professional educators would be contacting you nothing has occurred.

Sure, I know that people are busy and that spring break is coming.  I get it.  I am willing to give people time.  But let's be fair, right, this isn't a "spring break", "semester grade work" or a "we've been busy" issue when it's been nearly the entire year.

But resiliency and the desire to be involved remains.  You hope that things will improve and you try to do the things necessary to have them improve.  You check ParentVUE often.

You try.  You want to remain hopeful and resilient.  Then it occurs to you that through all the un-returned emails and phone calls that even the ParentVUE system doesn't support you, as a parent, at actually knowing what's happening.  You realize your parent account calls for you to be notified when your child is tardy or misses a class.  When your child's grade book scores are posted and when your child's term grades are posted.  Then you remind yourself that heck, you haven't even received a grade card in the mail and not once have you received that Sunday email.

It's then that you realize your fighting a battle that's already won and in truth you have been selected as the losing party.  You have been deemed, overtly or not, as less worthy.  You are just the "adoptive dad" or "biological dad".  Nice.  Thanks.  Appreciated.

The good news out of this is that Jacob, Hannah and Knoah are doing well, in general.  I would love for better grades and am encouraging them but they all are attending school and making friends.  I am proud of them.

It's just that being ignored, minimized, dismissed as a parent feels pretty horrible.  You get angry.  You get determined to change it.  Then you just think, what's the point.  You know that if you push the issue you will only look like the crazy parent and whatever garbage the school has heard about me (and they must think something to list you me as "adoptive parent") will look to be true even when you know how absolutely ridiculously most of it is.  Truth is you know that as a Dad you're fighting a battle that can't be won.  Some mothers can and do say whatever they like to professionals involved in your children's lives and there is nothing that you can do to counter it.  Women are believed.  People have no clue about the "background" information they are given.  They have no clue about the deception and havoc that has been caused because of a persons lies and manipulation.

So you reach a point of resignation.  There is no value in fighting from afar by email or telephone.  It serves no benefit for my children and only serves to make me look like the crazy dad (er, adoptive dad, right?).

It's a choice.  GHSD has made one at three different schools and even with the ParentVUE computer system.  Sure I guess maybe it's just a "coincidence" that all three schools have treated me the same and that all three schools are just magically unprofessional in returning correspondence.  Yeah, maybe it's just a "coincidence" that the ParentVUE system doesn't send me updates.  I mean, maybe it's just happen-stance that I have not received a grade card in the mail.  Funny.

But in the end there it is.  So, GHSD, please treat my children better than you have treated me.  Thank you for sending a clear message that I am, for whatever reason, not as important to my children (which, btw . . . it's hilarious because Mary A. White Middle School continues to send out "Parent Blast" on the value of Fathers).  At the close of each night I know one thing, I have five beautiful, wonderful, intelligent children and three of them are miles away.  They are not my "adoptive" children they are mine.  I was present when each one of them were being carried by their mother (I would say "conceived" but that wouldn't be true).  I was there when each were born and held each of them moments after birth.  I raised them for twelve years in the home with their mother.  I worked a full time job and on two instances a full time and part time job to take care of them and during one crazy period two full time jobs in an effort to take care of them.  I painted their rooms.  I changed their diapers.  I read to them.  I played with them.  I took them for walks.  I did everything that I was supposed to do as a father and to this day I love them with everything in my heart.  Even if you, GHSD wish to minimize me as a parent the truth is, I have always been there for them.

I am disappointed and angry that GHSD has behaved this way but what really am I to do?  In the end, I know that Jacob, Hannah and Knoah are my children and I love them regardless of who tries to marginalize me as a parent, I know who I am.  In the end I am not angry at GHSD for taking the positions they have.  I get it, honestly, I do.  I used to be a licensed social worker and substance abuse therapist and understand how and why schools make the decisions they do.  They want to believe the "parent" they know.  I get it.  It's too bad they don't know the background on how lies and manipulation have harmed people.  They have taken my ability to work in my degree field and to support my children.  They have openly diminished me as a "parent" to my three oldest children.  They have . . . . . made me more cynical, bitter and uncaring then I ever expected to be.  So I don't blame GHSD entirely.  I am disappointed that they have chosen to act this way.  But . . . what to do?  Make noise about it and be the "crazy adoptive dad" . . . . nah.  No point.  I've been hurt enough and doing so would only cause problems for the kids.  So . . . . you move on knowing that some folks truly do walk through the raindrops and you hope that karma really is a b***h.  Sure, it's bitter and sure it's angry but it's also resignation that you are done fighting something you can't win and would rather let some cosmic force have a turn.

UPDATE:  I received an email from the Principal on 15 April but the contents were not about my children but rather a Lakshore Staff Member who was terminated after a police investigation found that he had inappropriate contact with one or more students.

Amazingly enough the comments on the news story discussed the photos of students that he had posted on his Facebook profile.  A simple search of his name (Dominic Ciccantelli) showed this to be true.  It raises questions to what the schools policies are regarding staff members taking photographs on school property and posting them on the internet without parents knowledge.  IMO, it show a very clear lack of leadership that a new staff member (hired in Nov '14) felt comfortable enough to take photos in the classroom, gymnasium and on field trips with either a camera or smartphone and was apparently not questioned about it.  More importantly it raises the concern, IMO, that Mr. Ciccantelli's behaviors were not questioned until after the police notified the school.  Exactly what was his supervisor doing to provide training and oversight?

Additionally the marking period ended on 25 March 2015 but as of today (04/16/15) the ParentVUE system is not updated nor have I received a grade card in the mail.  Honestly, how long does this take?

I then emailed the school to inquire about the continued lack of contact as I have not heard from the school or the principal since the last email on 30 March.  I also requested direction about the third marking period grade card.  I wonder how long follow-up will take or if I should just contact the superintendent and or school board?  Sure, why not, really what do I have to lose?  It's not like I can get less information, right!