4 Managing Legal Risks in Early Childhood Programs
Letter-of-the-law decisions ensure evenhanded justice. People
know what to expect: decisions are predictable. Letter-of-the-law deci-
sion makers argue that “the floodgates will open” if the law isn’t en-
Letter-of-the-law decisions are made by weighing the pros and
cons of each option. When making budget decisions, you may find this
List pros of the situation objectively.
List cons objectively.
Analyze the list: Which side has more substantial factors?
Make a logical decision favoring the weightier side.
Letter-of-the-law decisions make a leader’s life easier by being:
Expedient (made quickly)
Defensible (based on measureable facts and figures)
Impartial (no favorites)
At times, this process works well. Administrators, pressed by an
onslaught of choices, find the objective approach useful. When a leader
makes an “impartial” decision, he or she can decide quickly without
considering the complexity of human emotion.
Leaders base their decisions on established policies and proce-
dures, and, in “following precedent” or upholding tradition, promote
stability. Expectations are met.
THINK ABOUT IT
When has your letter-of-the-law decision been right for the situation? When has
another letter-of-the-law decision backfired? What accounted for the difference?
When do you use the letter-of-the-law process? When you do,
you meet one standard for fairness. However, you may be faulted
for not taking a more interpersonal approach, the “spirit-of-the-law”
process. More often than not, an impartial decision will be challenged.
Letter-of-the-law decisions are resisted by individuals who feel their
personal circumstances were not considered. An administrator may
hear complaints that he or she failed to ask everyone’s opinion before
deciding. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL