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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Brave People: Jonathan. Joe. Susan.

Jonathan K. says:
February 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm
The laws are written so school systems can get a non-tenured teacher out for “any reason or no reason at all”. Sounds too easy? Well, it is. That’s the first law that has to be rewritten.

As long as our jobs are allowed to dangle by a thin string the first three years prior to reaching professional status, the administration owns us! I worked at a school that consistently pink-slipped teachers just before the end of their third year, after the seniors were gone, to avoid having a teacher get professional status.

It’s all about control. In fact, not only does the Superintendent not have to give a reason for non-renewal, he or she can give a reason and it does not have to be correct. Doesn’t matter what reason is written on a non-renewal, an “at-will teacher has NO rights”!It is difficult to challenge any non-renewal.

The most important teachers in the school are the new ones. As an institution of learning, the education system should be bending over backwards to welcome new teachers into the field, but because of the way the laws are written, they do the exact opposite.

New teacher mentoring at some schools goes unsupervised. I was at one school where my mentor told me to email her when I was out so she wouldn’t write that day down on her log as a day we had a mentoring meeting. She was paid $700 to mentor a new teacher, but never met with the teacher after the initial intro. She said she used the money to send her kids to summer camp every year-

If we want to get the most qualified, inspired individuals to teach our children and grandchildren, we have to protect new teachers from these abusers and bullies!


Joe Shmoe says:
February 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm
Hi, I’m baaaack! Just curious, JK, why do you think new teachers are the most important? What about us old fogies? I am still hanging in there fighting battles daily. Like signing IEP’s that were not even reviewed, people who were not at the meeting end up signing it later. That perterbs the heck out of me, because I KNOW they were not there. Then they wonder why they don’t know what the heck is going on with their own students. So I am told to “work” with others. If I don’t, they complain. If I don’t do what the other person who has no idea what my job entails, I am labelled as someone who “doesn’t play nice”. I am so sick of it. Needless to say, I serve the ESE populations. By the way, I just spent 108.00 at the Dollar Tree on bribes for my incentive system that is “highly recommended”. That should last a couple of months. Anybody else tired of giving bribes? How do we reward them verbally so they feel good inside/intrinsically, when they can’t/won’t function appropriately? Many teachers are saying “Oh well, it’s the only thing that works, so I do it, because it is the only thing that saves my sanity”.

Jonathan K. says:
February 17, 2013 at 10:40 am
Hey Joe,

Not that we “old fogies” aren’t important, but it’s all spinning out of control and it’s up to us to stop it for our own sake and for the sake of the future generations of students and teachers. The public education system will be more effective when these “almost psychopaths” and bullies are reeled in. What we all do (teaching) is for the future of our society and right now is the time when we all have to fight for change or what will become of that future? We can’t let the politicians turn education into a profit driven business for the sake of its top earners- the administrators. It has to be about the children and the teachers first. Presently it is not. The top seven administrators at my last school combined earnings/benefits totaled over ONE MILLION DOLLARS! You wonder why there is a “blue line”? It’s all about POWER, GREED and MONEY!


Susan Nunes says:
February 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm
You have to understand also that just because you have “tenure,” that doesn’t mean your job is any more “secure.” It isn’t. It’s just that administrators have to document whatever they do before they dump a teacher they don’t want. Heck, they don’t even have to truthful there–they can literally make up charges and rig the “due process” hearings. It happened to me all so two administrators could keep their jobs. I am destitute as a result of their misconduct.

Jonathan K. says:
February 18, 2013 at 10:01 am
I hear you Susan- The fear of ending up both broken and broke scares the crap out of me. You’re right on with “they can literally make up charges and rig the “due process” hearings.” That’s exactly what they did to me, and through the rollovers holding positions on the union. It becomes a very difficult reality finding out your career has been squashed like a bug- Life will never be the same.This has been devastating to me…

Seize The Day & KEEP POSTING!

Susan Nunes says:
February 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm
It’s been five years for me, and I cannot get full-time work in any field…not easy at 58.

Jonathan K. says:
February 19, 2013 at 8:22 am
When you are unable to find steady work the bullying lives on. I’m in my mid to late 50′s also and there’s not many employers willing to hire someone that age, especially someone who has no experience and will need training.

Bullying and defamation in a lot of cases, go hand in hand. I will not be able to teach again in my State as long as my “almost psychopath” is still in his current position. He’s a MADMAN and anyone close to him knows it. He makes irrational decisions, is unpredictably violent day-day, and takes great pride in destroying lives. Up till now I have been one of his many casualties.

There is a long line of good people who have been victims of his wrath, but no one has been able to get him out…

I have been told over and over again- “life is not fair”. I get it. But that doesn’t change my current situation one bit. You reach a certain age playing by the rules and accepting things you can’t change, but when the most unfair event happens later in life it becomes very difficult to move past it…


joe shmow says:
February 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm
Dear people,
I hear you, and can relate as a fellow old timer, who is very scared. I worked today, while everyone else was either off with comp time or at tech conferences. I will never ever be caught up, finished or even have any hope of being so. I KEEP asking for a computer that is not 10 years old, a projector, and a white board that you can write on. It takes actual scrubbing to get marks off, regular erasers do not work. I could go on and on. All the new stuff (rubrics, posting objectives, etc) is dragging me under with these ESE kids who are at all different levels, with bizarre behavior all lumped together in 30 minute segments. By the time I RUN and get them all, we have about 15 minutes. IMPOSSIBLE… Now the teachers are saying I MUST change my schedule and pull these kids with other kids so they don’t get pulled at times in which they are supposed to have supplemental instruction (does not apply the rules correctly), but since the teacher is insisting, I had to do it. This is so (of course), the fcat test results don’t drop. It is such malpractice. I am delirious.

Jonathan K. says:
February 20, 2013 at 4:29 am
3:00 AM- I’m up. Can’t sleep. It’s not just the events of the day, it’s the unstable future that awaits. Worry. Diminished health. The feeling that I’ve let down those closest to me…

You work a lifetime on the straight and narrow and then you run headfirst into a buzz-saw called a Superintendent. I really thought I could make the world a better place by preparing my students… That is not what public education is about. It’s about the grown-ups working at the school and their salaries and their benefits. If they feel you might threaten their twisted authority- you’re out on the street- literally.

I’ve never been more disappointed in my life…


Susan Nunes says:
February 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm
My faith in human beings was sorely tested through my experience. I have never seen so many lousy excuses for human beings, who are corrupt to boot, as I knew at Washoe County School District. All of the people who have wronged me still are employed there although they are in different jobs. They have this attitude they are entitled to the pay and benefits, but they should have been fired or never hired to begin with.

5:33 am est          Comments

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another Email to UTD: 2010
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: kim
To: s@ Sent: Friday, April 9, 2010 10:00:34 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Fwd: Important/More
The following: H has told me I "will not counsel. There is too much to do." She told me before the holiday break that "Bullying prevention is only one tiny piece of what I do." L has told me "bullying prevention doesn't interest her."--that she "is hiding." C has informed me that my work on bullying prevention "hasn't impacted (her) work load one bit." I have not been supported in my bullying prevention efforts. I am alone in the effort. I do weekly classroom presentations. I have had students create anti-bullying raps and posters. I work with students individually on bullying issues.There is little- if any- support.

I tell you this because of the recent district investigation into the bullying incident at (school's name) (see March 16). I also add attachments that indicate my plan and my concerns from April/09. I presented the plan to C, L, and H in April 09. It was rejected. I gave it to O. He agreed (with H present) that I do those items on the list. I believe he did so because he really wanted me to stay at that time. I was being recruited by other principals. Now he agrees I am not a good fit. You will find attached O's letter of recommendation. I have sent letters of interest to 14 middle schools
1:14 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

 I'm missing many of God's gifts.  I'm missing them because my mind is wrapped around my experience of abuse; learning about the dynamics of domestic and workplace violence...and figuring out just how to help out with this pernicious issue of bullying in our schools. 

 Today, for instance, I just looked up from my typing and noted the beauty of the sunrise.  For Miami, it's really cold, so the crisp air probably has something to do with the glorious oranges and pinks that are reflected on the small lake behind my house.  

 I am, however, back to typing. 

 A friend of mine recently got excited about a book of great bullying prevention/respect building tools for teachers to use in the classroom.  She notes in her review that there are 67 bullying prevention initiatives in schools throughout the United States.  Not one of them is working.  In spite of our societal outrage and desire to "do something," children are in greater peril from bullying in 2013 than they were in 2012, or 2011 or years before that.  

 There are on line reporting systems, zero tolerance policies, and meticulous documentation of bullying events.  

 There are assemblies and presentations.  There are celebrities and foundations.  There are student poster and video contests.  

 And there is lots and lots of money from lots and lots of wealthy people wanting to help. 

 None of it is working.  As much as I love and admire my friend and her enthusiasm, I don't think this book will work either. Why?

 Here's why: Because the prevention of bullying cannot begin in the classroom with the teacher and her/his students. That's the wrong approach.  It has to start with school district superintendents, and district directors, and regional superintendents, and regional directors, and then principals, and assistant principals, treating their employees with courage and respect.   That is not happening. We--and I mean educators throughout our nation's schools--have no true leadership on this issue.  We have no one who "gets it;" who "gets" that we will never, ever keep children safe from bullying without keeping employees in schools safe from the same.  In fact, many of those leading our school districts were/are the biggest bullies of all.  Either their bullying tactics are celebrated as "tough yet effective" leadership or they were promoted to get them into regional and district offices so that they were away from children, but still making "the big bucks."

 So, to start in the class room with "scared-they-will-lose-their-jobs-if-they-displease-the-boss" teachers is just plain futile. 

 I keep coming back to my own experience with my former principal and what I am learning from all of that. My experience of being emotionally ripped to shreds by him and by his counselor friend is, honestly, my best example of why, in general, bullying continues unfettered and unchecked in schools.  My horrible and outrageous experience--one that I thought was rare and unique--is common place and common practice throughout our nation.  

 When I write of my experience, it is broader than just what happened TO me: it also includes my shock at the documentation of destroyed careers of others who went before me. It now includes those following me.  Although I only have semi- complete documents from three other targets, I have names of at least ten more.  Please let me write that again: ten more people and ten more careers and ten more instances of my district's....what?  blind eye turning?  It's worse than that.  My district doesn't just turn a blind eye, it turns a cannon and points it directly at the latest target.  It allows my former principal, with the help of his counselor friend, to stuff the barrel and light the fuse. 

 Boom.  Move on.  Clear path to a superintendency. Who cares that the path's edges are littered with the carcasses of former targets' careers. 

 Apparently that is what is happening in school districts throughout the nation. Bullying principals get promoted. 

 I recently found my former principal's latest application to become a superintendent of schools in my state.  I've on occasion googled his name and the word superintendent to see what's happening.  I was crushed--sick to the point of vomiting--to see letters of recommendations from people I admire; who, although they may not have all the details of his years of abuse, at least know of my case.  "How can they do that?!" my mind screamed. "How can they write that his personal motto is 'when there is a human being there is always an opportunity for kindness' that reveals 'his people person disposition'?!"  

 He most definitely is not a person of "fairness and integrity" as was written by the person I admire most on the planet. My God. 

 I cried.  Yes.  Shed tears at those words of betrayal.  Not a betrayal of me, but of children and employees and parents.  Betrayal of trust. Betrayal of
 entire school districts.  Betrayal. 

 These are bottom line ethics and integrity issues for me.  This is a matter of protecting children from "trickle down" abuse.  

 The right thing to do then, is to send all of the documents that I have to what ever school district hires him as superintendent.  

 I am no longer sick inside.  I am peaceful and feel forgiving. I have decided that this resolve to speak the real truth about bullying in schools  is, like this morning's sunrise, a "no-matter-what" God given gift. 

 Still, I am learning to look up from my typing.  The sun is now up.  The lake reflects its light.  My daughter is awakening.  I can see her eye lids flutter.  She's piled high with blankets.  Delicious.  

 Time to get on with the day
5:57 am est          Comments

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Trickle Down....
My district's superintendent is, apparently, making a big deal about principals seeing the movie "Bully." I don't know the man expect that he is held in high regard by many national educational leaders.  I only know this: once, last summer at a school board meeting, I saw him snap his fingers in a staccato like fashion and flip his thumb to the right.  He made this gesture to an elderly, over weight, and balding man--a high ranking district employee--who then slowly got up and lumbered off in the direction of my superintendent's thumb. I was kind of shocked. I was at the school board meeting because my former principal's latest target had asked me to support her. So, my superintendent's impatient finger snapping and my reason for being there-- I was festooned with buttons: "No Place For Hate," "Bully Free It Starts With Me," and a MDCPS button stating "It Takes Courage" seemed to fit well together. 
 I also saw my superintendent on TV once sarcastically ridicule a young man who had brought his concerns to the board.  I don't remember what the young man said.  I just remember thinking to myself, "Wow!  That's a courageous thing to do!"  
 To another board member's credit, he defended the boy's right to speak.

 I have seen my superintendent twice more in person.  Once, I had helped organize a parent event at a district high school. This event was a very big deal and took lots and lots of time.  I'd invited a local radio personality to present her heartfelt story to us.  She'd agreed to be there and because she hadn't arrived yet, I went looking for her in the school's parking lot.  A huge SUV type vehicle pulled up and my superintendent got out of the passenger's seat.  Assistant principals and such radioed each other of his arrival.  It was impressive to witness.  I, however, did not have the opportunity to even say "Hi, Mr. C.! Thanks for being here."  
 He made a nice speech, though, and then was whisked away. He didn't stay for the radio personality's speech.  Apparently, he had other more important things to do.
 The other time I saw him in person was at my school. I didn't witness his arrival, but I can tell you my principal made sure he didn't see ANY children in the halls.  Honestly, my school was eerily quiet.  One student--a troublesome girl--apparently demanded to go to the bathroom during his visit and so--as was relayed to me--was accompanied by security to the restroom.
 I've tried to communicate to my superintendent my ideas about true bullying prevention in our schools.  I was especially excited last year as I was selected to be interviewed by the Broad Prize folk.  Although I was told my selection was "completely random," I didn't and still don't believe it.  The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is featured by my district as a bullying prevention program it uses.  Olweus was also submitted to the Broad folk as evidence of the district's work in bullying and violence prevention.  As I am the only Olweus trainer in the district, I suspect that was why I was asked to participate. 
 My district won the Broad Prize. That's good. My attempts to further explore meaningful efforts towards ending bullying, though, go unanswered by all district leaders.  That's bad.
 My former principal is working very, very hard at becoming a superintendent in my state. He has enthusiastic support from key community and school district leaders so he'll probably get that job soon. They, district leaders and my community's most influential education advocates--hey, not to mention a governor!-- all seem to be friends. In fact, I recently saw a video of my former principal with my state's governor and other well known educational leaders in his school's media center. The governor was speaking about how great the school was. Everybody seemed happy and excited with the school and with my former principal's leadership. There were lots of smiles and back slapping.  Probably there were a few "high-fives" outside of the camera's lense.
 There is one individual in the video who caught my eye--my former assistant principal. She didn't seem to know she was in the camera's view. She looked sad. Now, I know of the hell she has endured as "second-in-command" to this well documented abusive man.  I can only imagine what it was like for her to see this celebration of his greatness.
My heart, honestly, breaks for her.  Someone needs to save that woman. As an aside, before I left the school she shared with me that she was writing her doctoral dissertation on workplace bullying in schools. God save her.
 I am reading three books right now.  One is called "Breaking the Silence: Overcoming the Problem of Principal Mistreatment of Teachers." It's a book about the national travesty of principals' abuse of their employees.  It's painful to read. It's even more painful to live. I lived it.
My former assistant principal lives it right now--every day.  
 My superintendent's snapping fingers and "get-up-and-do-what-I-tell-you-to-do" thumb gesture spoke more to me than all of his well spoken words of educational reform. 
 Honestly, unless I, his employee, can say "Hi, Mr. Superintendent!  Thanks for showing the movie "Bully"!  Thanks for setting such a fine example!  Thanks for assuring that following principals' seeing this movie,  they are going to set a tone of trust, honor and integrity in all of your schools."  
 Unless I can say, directly to my superintendent, a sincere "thank you; thank you for your accessiblity; thank you for your kindess; thank you for your courage in addressing the rampant bullying of your employees by the school leaders you place there".....unless I can say that to him with sincerity, I will suspect that he and his leadership are the true reason we in my county are in such a mess.
 Good luck with the "Bully" movie, Mr. Superintendent.

 More to the union in 2010.

 From: kim
 To: s@
 Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 9:22:22 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
 Subject: Fwd: Important/More

 I add this for the record. I am a Certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Trainer. As such it is clear to me now that I must include the following. Twice I have heard O yelling, screaming at children. Most recently THIS IS MY SCHOOL!! SHUT UP! to 2 eighth grade girls who raised their voices to each other in his presence. I took on the role of typical bystander. I was nervous and felt guilty that I wasn't standing up for these girls--typical reaction to bullying. C, Br and I believe G, our security monitor present.

5:36 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

September 2009


I began to send emails of documentation to my union on March 17, 2010. I share with you the first. It detailed for the union the unrelenting stress of working there. I did not, at that time. know of all the others.

I will share more next week. Looking back now, I see that had I stayed...I'd probably be dead. That kind of stress, for some, is a death sentence.

This is my first unanswered cry for help.


Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 8:53:32 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada EasternSubject: Fwd: Important


I feel bullied and harassed by my principal O. I begin with my journal entry of 09/16/09. This is what I wrote: "veilled threats. "we must talk" (as he passes me). told I had 2 miscommunications. I feel I am being bullied. the covert aggression is on going. the imbalance of power is in place (principal! ) B., inappropriately without going through channels, spoke-complained about me to O.


L. and B. appear to be dissatisfied with my work. My work is extensive, I am at the point of taking a medical leave. The ongoing stress is relentless. It is affecting my sleep, my dispostiion. I am depressed. I cry easily. Yesterday I made a doctor's appt. cancelled. will see what happens when we meet.

The miscommunications:


1. Greeting parents and introducing myself in classrooms at open house. This is when he pulled me to the side and stated I did not have permission to do so.

2. He requested I organize Bilingual outreach district monthly initiative. I did so. When the information came in the district required a school rep be there in the evening/one time a month. I asked Mr. O. who he planned on that being. He pointed at me. I said no.


Mr. O. has also told me there had been complaints about me. This is part of the "we must talk" bullying. I was left worried and felt ill. He never did make that conversation happen.


Mr. O. has called me "honey" three times. The first time he tossed papers to his desk and said (arrogantly) "You forgot to sign this honey". I was taken aback. I said nothing. I felt awful. The second time he called me honey, I said jokingly "Oh you're not going to call me honey are you sweetie?"


The third time was on the phone. He said "That's not the way we do things here, honey." He hung up the phone. I was upset and went to him. I requested he not call me that. That I felt demeaned and disrespected. That it was inappropriate for him, my male boss to call me a woman who works for him, honey. I have heard him twice call Ms. C., AP honey. I have heard him call B. honey as well.


Monday morning meeting. O. asked me to attend. It begins at 0730. My work day starts at 0820. I leave my house at 0700. I was routinely late by 10 minutes. He said to me "we begin at 0730." I said I would not make it at that time. He repeated 0730-need you here. I fretted about that. I decided to not go at all. Caused me great stress. I no longer attend the morning meeting.


--Summer 09--Civil rights called me. I had witnessed 2 teachers arguing. I asked if I could help. I wanted students in classrooms. One teacher, Ms. W. came out of her room and apologized to other teacher. Non issue for me. Mr. O. had used me as a witness in his case against Ms. W.. I was never informed of that. I told the Civil Rights Department that I had never been formally debriefed. Mr. O. appears to have told them he had "formerly debriefed" me. Untrue. First day of school O. was visibly unhappy with me. He questioned me as to why I hadn't supported him. I told him that I had told the truth.


January 10, Ms. C., without telling what it was about, told me I must go to principal's office. A state investigator questioned me. O. was not present. Now it was Ms. W.'s case against him. Again I stated that I had never been formally debriefed. I felt very uncomfortable and vulnerable to O..


March 16-called into O's office. L., TRUST and Ms. C., AP had been dealing with a bullying issue since I believe October. I was not included in this issue. Parent removed her child from school and case is being investigated by district. O. asked me to verify dates on my having trained staff, parents and students on the district's bullying and harrassment policy. I told him I had not done so. That although I had introduced topics there was no training done. He was livid. He spat out that I had had 40 minutes and just get the dates! Mr. G.was outside principal's door. I believe he heard what I said. Ms. C. was seated at his desk. I did as told. I also wrote by the dates that I had NOT trained on policy. I noted that Mr. O. had turned down the 2 comprehensive bullying prevention programs, Olweus and StopBullyingNow!, and had decided to go with district's initiative. I have emails to support all this. I also made a copy of the form. L. brought a training manual from a TRUST meeting. I told her that our principal had decided to go with district and that it was her responsibility as TRUST to inform and instruct our staff. I believe Mr. O. will go ahead and use the dates of the presentations I did and claim they meet the training of policy requirement. They do not. This is important.


Feb 2-called to a student services meeting to "get things out on the table" C., L., B.present. I felt this the appropriate time to address my concern of L. routinely arriving late and leaving early. Ms.C.s defended L-stating "she was trying to connect the dots.' and looked with amazement at B and L.. L. began to cry and was then defended by the other 2. C told me my work with the middle school kids on bullying hadn't made a dent in her work load. She stated I appeared to need validation. I said no. I knew I did excellent work. This is important. L, B. and C. spoke of them being family. That it had taken 4 years to get where they were at. going through fire together etc. When I asked specifically what they were talking about, they said Mr. O. I told them that I too had felt his fire. I told them that he had told me there had been complaints about me. I was told that this is his leadership style. That he divides to conquer. That he had done that to the 2 assisant principals. I believe C is scared. She looked once at B (who reports to principal-they are friends) and said "I love my boss." This conversation validates for me that they too know his leadership style to be one of harrassment, bullying and intimidation..


The next workday O called a meeting. C, L and B had obviously spoken to him of the meeting. It was all to be rehashed. I told them (another courageous move!) I was done with that. That I would only discuss our upcoming work. I asked if they were each done with the meeting. They each shook their heads yes. They appeared at a loss. It was obvious to me that I was to become in that meeting a scapegoat. I said if he was going to continue to discuss the meeting I'd had with C, L., and B., I would have union representation present. He asked each of them if they wanted to say something. Following that meeting, I turned in a transfer request-region 2 to region 1 or 3. He signed it.

S, there is more. I simply as too tired right now to go on. Is this enough? Thank you so much for your help! Sending this email is going to get me a good night's sleep!



5:23 am est          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....