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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Truth Does Indeed Set You Free.....

I continue my story.....

I did not yet fully understand that my bully had his followers.  I remember one meeting with an assistant principal. We were to “get things out on the table”—a department meeting; four of us led by our female assistant principal.  I do not want to put too many details of that meeting here on paper.  It was an excruciatingly painful, yet exceedingly informative meeting for me. 

At that meeting I was told my three female co-workers had learned to cling together; that they had learned to protect each other.   At that meeting they spoke of being family. I asked how the family had formed.  I was told it had formed by “going through fire.”  They told me it was our boss’s “fire” that had brought them together. 

I informed them—my bully’s followers—that our boss’s flames had licked my heels as well. I also told them I did not want to be part of "the family".  I told them I just wanted to come to work and do the best job I could do. 

My bullying prevention work was derided at that meeting.  "I'll tell you one thing", my assistant principal stated, "your work has not lessened my work load one bit."  She continued: "You seem to need validation."  I said no, that what I needed was help. 

I did not yet know this either; that ugly layers above my principal’s leadership—his bosses—years of blind eye turning to reports of his abuse—had allowed his tyranny and his arrogance to grow unchecked.

My school was a sad and common example of the dark climate of subterfuge and deception bullying leadership creates.  No wonder adults hid behind the wall of lies. That’s the only place they had to hide. They would stay there and lob gobs of untruths at me as I approached their thick wall to see what it was made of.  

 It’s also no wonder children did not feel safe there. Their protectors, the adult leaders of the school, were lost to them. In fact, I was horrified more that once at my school leader’s screams-loud, crude screams—at the children at our school.  “SHUT UP! THIS IS MY SCHOOL!”, I once heard and saw him scream inches from the faces of two girls who had raised their voices in his presence. 

Once a parent entering the school asked that I protect her from the principal.  Imagine.  I was asked to assure the safety of a parent so that she could enter the school.  Imagine my horror.  I worked for this man.

I indeed suffered—chunks, raw pieces of pain.  Being a victim of abuse by a school leader-- and having others join in-- is just plain horrible.  Like bullied children; excluded children; talked about and laughed about children; I felt trepidation each day as I entered the doors of my former school.  Like children entering classrooms and seeing tormentors’ bookbags, I would see my school leader’s car and my heart would sink; my stomach would twist.  A pall would descend as I looked at others working there and wondered if they too experienced this dread.
 They did.  They were. 

Once, in a particularly awful moment, another employee of the school, Jorge (I've changed his name), came to me.  It was obvious he’d thought about what to do for a long time before deciding that I was the one with whom he needed to speak.  For you see, he had a story to tell.  It was an awful story.  He did not feel safe.  He wanted to call the police. He’d reached the point of desperation.  I allowed him to make that call from my office.

Two days later Jorge asked that I assure a note he’d written to our school leader was correctly written in English.  I read it.  I read it again.  I looked at Jorge.  “This is an apology to the principal”, I stated.  “Yes,” he replied. “It’s the only way I can keep my job.” 

 Jorge’s acquiescence to the brute force of our school leader frightened me.   

There is more.  I am not done.  Until next week.....Kim   
4:54 pm edt          Comments

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