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Special Education Director's Blog

Restitution RSS Feed


I am sorry that your Weekly Update is late! I was busy covering my plants with sheets in preparation for the upcoming snow! Surely it is on its way with this temperature drop! :) 

On a different note, I do want to share a story of restitution with you. It just seems appropriate, given the situations in which we often find ourselves. When I began working at Region 4 it meant more than just driving to a different place everyday . . . it meant finding a new dry cleaners near the office. I dry clean A LOT, and I have high expectations (on-site cleaning, know my name, start bringing my clothes forward as I walk in the door . . . cheap). I don't want to hear one word about "spoiled"! Sparkey's Cleaners in Deer Park did all this and more! 

Anyway, believe it or not, I found one that was right across the street from my new office that I thought met most of the criteria. The second time I took in clothes they called my cell before I even got in to the office to let me know that I had left my credit card and money in my pocket. Wow . . . they are even honest . . . hadn't even thought to put that on the list. This relationship is looking good! 

Now comes the glitch . . . one day when I go to pick up my FAVORITE jacket (it has beads around the collar, after all!) I knew something was wrong when 3 people came to meet me as I walked in. Unfortunately, their chemicals had melted off ALL of the prissy little beads around the collar. I am sure my "unhappy customer" face was evident . . . I am not even going to tell you about my "unhappy customer" words! 

At this point, the company has a choice . . . they can give it back to me beadless and say it was a default in my jacket (VERY unhappy customer), they can pay me for my jacket (still unhappy customer because it is last year's model and can't replace it) or they could choose to restore the relationship by going the extra mile by making it right. Thankfully, they chose the latter . . . they had contacted the manufacturer and ordered more beads and would sew them on for me. Unhappy customer becomes raving fan! It would have been much easier for them to choose one of the first two options, but they would have likely lost a customer. They went the extra mile and truely attempted to make right the situation. They apologized and fixed the problem. This is a great example of "restitution." 

I have a priest friend (yes . . . this Baptist knows a priest!) who says that restitution is a "giving of grace" to the relationship between the two people (the harmed and the harmer---not sure that is a real word, but you get the meaning). It allows us to move past the issue, whatever it is . . . and restore the relationship. 

What does this have to do with me, you ask . . . how many times do your customers (parents, students, even staff) feel as if they have been wronged? Sometimes it is true, sometimes not . . . sometimes intentional . . . sometimes not. The more important issue is the relationship. If we salvage the relationship by making the situation right then we win the war even if we did lose the battle. The relationship, after all, will make it possible to carry us through other bumps in the road.

For example, a parent complains to you that the teacher had used a certain behavior management technique with her child that she did not like. The strategy was not illegal or harmful . . . but it would not have been your first choice for your child either. Legally, you don't have to do anything. No law broken,no violation of ARD, no harm done to child. But how about offering for the LSSP to meet with the teacher to talk about some additional strategies to use with the child. This helps the teacher and it affirms to the parent that they are heard and your are willing to make it right. You can spend your time arguing the legality of the behavior strategy, or you can build trust and move on. Just thinking . . .

Well, this turned out to be a longer preface to the Weekly Update than I intended. I just got my BEADED jacket back and am loving my cleaners...thought there was a lesson in there. I think I will go bake them some cookies now . . . have a great weekend!

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