Saturday, March 20, 2010
The "Leadership Academy" Principal And Her "Children Last" Policy
A veteran teacher told me a real horror story about how her "Leadership Academy" Principal's dislike of an applicant was more important than what was best for her special needs children. While I cannot confirm the story, I have no doubt that the essence of the story is probably true.
The story starts with a recently appointed "Leadership Academy" Principal with two years of actual classroom experience (yes, not even tenured) found herself appointed as the Principal of a small special education school. She was not popular with the staff who believed the Principal was not qualified to run the school and was out of touch with the staff. However, the Principal would tell the staff that she ran the school based upon what was the best for the children. In other words, its "children first". When the Superintendent came to investigate the problems at the school the Principal complained that her staff did not care about the children and she did. Therefore, she said the problems were with some disgruntled teachers not her management style. The Superintendent left the school without taking any action and left the Principal in charge despite many staff members approaching the Superintendent with various improper actions they alleged the Principal did.
The veteran teacher was not one of the disgruntled teachers but kept to herself and did her job. She became one of the very few staff members the Principal trusted and was asked to sit in on the interviewing of Speech Therapists to fill a position in the school. Many of the people interviewed had worked under a contract for a period of weeks or months at the school and were not only familiar with the school but were known by the staff,including the Principal. One applicant stood out among others, she was an older women (in her 40s) who had come back to the field after staying at home to raise her children and seemed to have a real connection with the students in the school. Every teacher raved about her and even many of the autistic children seemed to respond to her and even asked for her when the contract was over. Quite a breakthrough for any teacher to get autistic children to respond that way. However, this Speech Therapist had a problem, the "Leadership Academy" Principal. It seemed that he Principal had interfered with the Speech Therapist's session at a time when she was achieving a critical breakthrough with a child. The Speech Therapist let the Principal know as nicely as possible that this was not a good time to have a talk as this was a critical moment in her session and she would speak with the Principal later that day. The Principal was obviously not happy about it but agreed to talk later. Fast forward to the interview process and the Principal, remembering her unsatisfactory encounter with the Speech Therapist saw this as a perceived slight and hurt feelings, she decides that this Speech Therapist is not appropriate for the position and another Speech Therapist gets he job.
The result is that the "Leadership Academy" Principal did what was best for her and not what was best for the special needs children of her school. Tweed would be proud of her as she is a shining example of the DOE's "children last" program.