Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools

May 16, 2012 by twalker  
Filed under Featured News, Top Stories

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By Cindy Long

Workplace bullying is on the rise. About a third of American workers have been impacted by bullying in the workplace, either as a target or as witness to abusive behavior against a co-worker. Unfortunately, it’s even more prevalent in the field of education. In a recent survey of medium-sized school districts, 25 percent of employees reported that they had been bullied.

A teacher from Augusta, Maine, was so traumatized by her principal and superintendent that she didn’t want her name or school mentioned, but wanted to share her story because she believes the pervasive problem of workplace bullying has gone on unchecked for too long.

“I am sufficiently frightened enough by my former employers to fear that maybe they could still hurt me,” she says. “I need to get a new job but won’t be able to do so if I am unable to receive even one recommendation from an administrator.  I know it and so do they.”

After the Augusta educator resisted being transferred to a new school and new grade level, she began to be scrutinized by her administrators. First, they began examining her test scores, her communications with parents, and her relationships with colleagues. Then, with no explanation and no warning, the principal began interrupting her class to pull out students one-by-one to talk to them. When the educator asked the students why they were being pulled out, they told her they were instructed not to tell.

She was accused of not using technology in her class, even though each student had a laptop. She was criticized for relying on a literacy mentor, even though some of her students were struggling with reading. She was put on a behavior modification plan and was told to submit her lesson plans a week in advance for review by administrators. Her peers warned her that she was being targeted, and she began to believe it. Finally, she left her job after her health began to deteriorate.

It’s not just administrators bullying teachers, says Carv Wilson, a geography teacher at Legacy Junior High in Layton, Utah. He’s been an educator for 18 years, and has seen teachers bullying each other to get their way, as well as aggressive parents who fly off the handle and threaten and intimidate their child’s educators. But he says the worst case of ongoing workplace bullying he witnessed was by a principal.

“I was heavily involved in school leadership both as a Davis Education Association Rep and on the school representative counsel, and I heard about or witnessed first-hand the abuse of other teachers, staff, and students by this principal,” he says. “She specifically targeted individual teachers and the only thing that seemed to offer any protection was membership in our local association.”

Wilson says more than 60 percent of the educators were NEA members, and the other 30 percent “suffered dramatically at her hands.”  The number of transfers out of the school was higher than 50 percent each year of the eight years that she was principal of the school.

“She seemed to revel in people being driven out of education or to another school,” he says.  “The memories of that time still haunt me from time to time, but it solidified my belief that having representation both in school and in the local community through the association is critical. It’s the only defense against unfair and even punitive measures that are sometimes solely prompted by personality conflicts.”

Denise Mirandola is a union representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association who holds trainings for members called “Bullying in the Workplace.”

“I presented it at an Education Support Professionals meeting and was surprised to see so many heads nodding,” she says. “I believe that the phenomenon has been overlooked far too long and should be brought to the surface quickly.”

Like Wilson from Utah, she says association representation is vital if you’re being targeted by a workplace bully. The first thing you should do, in fact, is contact your union representative. Then, document, document, document – save emails, letters, memos, notes from conversations, or anything that shows the mistreatment. She also recommends confronting the bully with a supportive ally, like a union rep – and to describe the offensive behavior you’re experiencing, and the change in behavior you’d like to see.

According to Dr. Matt Spencer of the Workplace Bullying in Schools Project, “the bully steals the dignity, self-esteem, confidence, joy, happiness, and quality of life of the targeted victim”. And when the target is an educator, it is a great “injustice” because the bully deprives students of a caring adult who is crucial to their education.

Currently there is no law in any state against workplace bullying, unless it involves harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age or disability. Please support the Healthy Workplace Bill in your state. Go to www.healthyworkplacebill.org for more information.

See Also: Violence Against Teachers – An Overlooked Crisis?

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  6. Now after 18 years of successful teaching, my daughter was bullied by the principal and she quit w/ one day notice, tried to recind , but can’t get a job. Principal put 7 special ed students in her class, intidated her, said I want your license, you make too much money for doing nother, and gave her an S last year and a pip plus( which my daughter refused, w/ prin . who was the main one who rated her and the union repof the school told her to sign a resignation of her own free will that she resigns undated and the union rep became the AP of the school and the former ap left and my daughter tried to rescind on 5/1/114 the next day and it was too late. A para was placed in her room a few days later , because nobody could control the class. Children were walking on top of desks, formed 2 line of duty injuries to my daughter and were constantly hiting other children and screaming. They were very high special need children. This was constructive dismissal. With out thinking & under duress , my wonderful successful daughter became a victim of circumstance and in now unemployed for the past 5 months and the principal is still putting her checks in the bank. HOW DOES SHE SLEEP AT NIGHT?? RESCINDING HER TEACHING LICENSE IS IMPOSSIBLE W/O A REFERENCE THE PRINCIPAL. WHAT IS A MOTHER TO DO? WE ARE BOTH SICK FROM THIS, There SHOUD BE A LAW AGAINST BULLYING A TEACHER. THE PRINCIPAL IN FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y 11694 IS STILL AND ALWAYS WILL BULLY THESE K-6 TEACHERS, payroll secretaries, and ap’s WHO KEEP LEAVING THE SCHOOL because of her retaliation to whoever she targets. My daughter will find another job some day I hope, but this woman has to be stopped and everyone is afraid of her because she was given the power to dstroy lives and she gets off on it as long as she doesn’t get blamed for the problems of this # 1 school with no support to the teacher. She’s not doing her duties, she doesn’t want to be blamed or bother. My daughter documented everything she did, but resigned instead of taking a leave of absence, because children were being hurt. 18 boys and 6 girls were in this first grade class of which 7 were high pending special needs students and 6 weeks after school began my daughter told a parent it’s a difficult class but ” I will handle it” theres a lot of boys and boys will be boys, how many the parent asked when my daughter said to the parent you son is being hit by another student, which my daughter stopped… Then the next day RETALIATION began And the principal said bring union rep and do your leson plans on Friday not Mon Monday and when my daughter called security a month later due to a child running around the room hitting and jumping on desks the principal comes in and says this is an observation now. REally, is this insane or what? How can she get away with this leadership. Thank you for listening, And this story should be made into a movie. Sincerely , Barbara

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  7. Odalis says:

    what do many of these comments have to do with educational bullying? seriously, folks…reading is fundamental!!!!!

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  8. CIndy says:

    This is sad. Teacher’s don’t make anything, yet they are expected to be everything and then there is no support — especially from the principal? Sick, sick, sick individuals!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  1. [...] Current Event: Teachers are now being victimized in schools and 25% of employees in medium-sized schools have reported being bullied or seeing another employee being bullied.  A teacher from Augusta, Maine told her story and proved that administrators do bully teachers. http://neatoday.org/2012/05/16/bullying-of-teachers-pervasive-in-many-schools/ [...]

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