Friday, September 19, 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?

Comments

861 Responses to “Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools”
  1. Dominique says:

    Bullying of teachers is very prevalent in my own school and district. I appreciate NEA covering this issue. Sadly, many of the weapons used by these bullies are provided by the so-called education “reforms”: data-driven decision making, student test scores, proficiency grading, RTI, etc. Several of these “reforms” are promoted by NEA and its member sub-groups. It would be nice if NEA examined the potential of abuse inherent in many of these education fads before jumping on the “reform” bandwagon.

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  2. Theresa says:

    I was bullied by my administrator and met with my union rep to file a complaint. It was very extreme bullying in front of faculty members, students, and even during a faculty meeting. This all started in January and I still have not seen my union rep do ANYTHING! I think I will be withdrawing from LAE. I wanted to file a grievance against my administrator, but I finally gave up after trying to contact my union rep many times. Almost all of our staff has been bullied or targeted by our admin.

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  3. k says:

    It’s about time NEA is covering this it is educations dirty little secret.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 2

  4. That Teacher says:

    I have also been a target for bullying.. I had my superintendent ask me three years ago, “Are there going to be any black people at your wedding?”. I am white, he is black. He also screamed at me in his office for twenty minutes after a trouble making student (constantly in ISS, suspended many times), went to the super after I wrote the student up for being disruptive, and said I hurt his feeling. He didn’t just single me out though; it was any female teacher who in any way incurred his displeasure The board finally bought out his contract a year early just to get rid of him. An atmosphere of fear blanketed the school. My principal told me “the walls talk…”
    Year before last I had a conference with a student’s parents. The student had a low grade in my advanced placement class due to not turning in homework. I requested an admin be present. None were available, so a staff member from the board office sat in. The parents called me a “liar” when I pulled out signed by the student homework “excuses” that listed each and every missing assignment and was told I fabricated them. The student was allowed to be not only sarcastic and disrespectful to me, but also to the math instructor, who was also having the same issues with the student as I had been having. Not one word was said to the parents. The admin stand-in did not once come to the defense of me and the math instructor. They parents continued to berate us for over an hour. Looking back, I should have walked out of that meeting.
    This current school year started with my being put on a Professional Development Plan (PDP). No one would explain to me why since my previous evaluation in May had been good and I had not been evaluated for the current school year yet. When I pointed out that only certain teachers were put on a PDP, I was told that I had no right to ask other teachers if they were on a PDP. I still believe I was targeted b/c the previous May, I refused to change failing grades to passing grades in the computer grading system and I told the principal that if he wanted the grades changed he was going to have to do it.. Can I prove it? No. But the harassment started after that. The lesson? Fly under the radar, don’t rock the boat, don’t tell the truth, and don’t challenge any wrong doing.
    It got so bad this past year that I was forced to go out on medical. I had surgery in November, and am just now recovered enough to go back.. but not to my old school. I resigned effective June 30.
    In four years, I had four superintendents and five principals. I waited for it to get better. I worked long hours after school in order to be prepared for my classes. I covered classes for teachers who were out. I stayed after school to help tutor. I gave it my best shot. But in the end I had to walk away or see my career destroyed.
    And people wonder why so many teachers are leaving the profession? The treatment we are suffering at the hands of admininstartors and parents is deplorable.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 89 Thumb down 1

  5. Deborah Harvey says:

    I was bullied by a co-teacher who wanted to replace me with a friend. I found out she had done this to 3 other teachers in the past. She buddied up to the principal, who joined her in the process, making my life miserable. Finally the principal moved me from a 1st grade position, where I have taught most of my career (I have an MA in ECE), and assigned me to 6th grade. I transferred schools, and then he demanded that I move my possessions while I was recovering from surgery, and would not let me take a gift the parent group had bought for me as a Christmas present, not a donation to the school. I can’t begin to share all the details here, but they made my life hell. The union rep tried to help, but she was one of the teachers that had been bullied out of her position in the past by this co-teacher! This was a control freak who had to have everything done her way, or she saw to it that you were out.I don’t know what the answers are, but I am still reeling from this a year later.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 3

  6. Tim says:

    Another type of bullying of teachers that needs to be addressed is that which is done by the students toward the teachers. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have had a student look me in the eye and tell me, “Don’t touch me! If you touch me, I’ll have your job!” Or the situation of male students who accuse me of having too much interest in their buttocks because I tell them to pull their pants up, and cover the “Continental Divide”. When did children get the power in the classroom?

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  7. Sara says:

    I hear you all. I myself was bullied by my administrator a few years ago. I left. It has been difficult finding another full time teaching job for the last several years. When in an interview or asked on resumes why I left that school I have told them simply, “Did not wish to return.” Only one administrator has ever asked me why I left and I told her the truth… I was bullied by my former principal. I don’t go into detail, but I don’t lie either. I lost my job, but at least have not lost my integrity.
    Other staff members have been bullied by this woman and pushed out or left because they simply could not handle the mental and then physical ailments abuse causes.
    ALL of the staff members who have been bullied were NEA members. ALL of the staff members who were bullied tried to go through the NEA to just withstand working for this woman. Apparently the NEA had no power or did not choose to use it against a corrupt (or at best) complacent school district.
    It is time NEA really was able to do something about workplace bullying and harassment. How do we help them to help us? I would love a response. (A real one, not just bs) Otherwise why
    spend the money for the dues? I could go out a pay for a therapist for my PTSD instead! Lol

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  8. tara schaller says:

    but there ARE laws against creating a hostile environment, overseen by OSHA…..it is illegal. bullying, harrassment, undermining, untruths….that sure makes for a hostile environment.

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  9. Caryl Phillips says:

    I was bullied by another teacher and my union rep told me that the union did not get involved in teacher to teacher issues. He said we were adults and expected to deal with these problems ourselves.

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  10. Jerry says:

    So where has the NEA been and the state organizations to end this? The NEA and state associations ONLY care about collecting dues and keeping their gig going!

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  11. Laura says:

    A concern for me is that many folks in administration go there because they didn’t handle a classroom very well. Now they get to sit back and order everyone to do what they couldn’t pill off themselves. Is it jealousy? I think so.

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  12. Mary says:

    I can’t count on both hands the number of administrators and department chairs I have had TRY to bully me. I guess entering the teaching profession at age 42 and after having raised 5 kids, I was not easily and have not been easily intimidated. One Assistant Principal had just gotten hired from having spent a good couple of decades teaching High School English and felt like she had to target me for some reason. Every other day it seemed I got a note in my box calling me into her office for some petty reason. It got to be too much. She was pissing me off. I requested another administrator take responsibility for me, got a doctor’s note saying she was compounding my stress load, and then I casually threatened to sue her for intentional infliction of emotional stress if I didn’t get a new administrator. She backed off entirely, I was reassigned another administrator and never had to talk to her again. Interesting note: At our graduation that year, she was walking ‘administratively’ to be sure, slipped and fell on her ass, well, flat on her back. You gotta believe in Karma!! Interestingly enough, she left that summer for a job 2 hours away. Do NOT be afraid to stick up for yourself!! You have civil rights just like every other god-fearing citizen and sometimes, you have to exert yourself. It helps to know your rights!! I went through a year of law school (in my ‘spare’ time) to find out what mine were. Trust me, you have the right to say “BACK OFF” to anyone who is harrassing or bullying you, and make sure you make it clear there will be reprocussions if they don’t stop!!

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  13. Jenn says:

    My district department coordinator is a huge bully. I started a new position this year on his prompting. At the end of the year last year, he encouraged me that I would be great at it and so I took the position. The third week of the new school year he came in and yelled at me for 45 minutes telling me that I had no idea what I was doing and was never going to make it. I ended up in tears. I was lucky. The information got back to my new principal. She protected me. I don’t know what I’m going to do if she ever leaves. I am stuck at my school because she is the only thing protecting me from him.

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  14. KME says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  15. Lisa says:

    How about bullying from parents? I resigned after having enough of being berated by parents for every little issue if their child was not 100% happy. It is hard to keep a spoiled child happy. Especially, when it is you who is trying to teach them ethics, morals and respect (besides their ABCs and 123s). Twice I caught students cheating and called them on it. How did the issue turn out, the parents accused me of lying. Like teachers have nothing better to do, but to make up issues to deal with.

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  16. Ragua says:

    Has anyone read Todd Whitaker’s “Dealing with Difficult Teachers”? It’s a how-to book for principals who want to bully teachers!

    Here is Mr. Teachbad’s take on Whitaker’s ridiculous screed:

    http://teachbad.com/2012/05/17/dear-teachers-please-stop-being-so-difficult/#comment-5517

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  17. Dear Colleagues,

    This article about bullying teachers deserves to be printed and distributed to every NEA member. I will do it in my school. The corrosive effect of the reformers’ agend has altered the professional relationships among administrators and teachers, parents and teachers, and even among teachers in the workplace for the worse. Now many teachers see and suffer the constant criticism and demoralization effect of being labeled the “culprit” by the refromers’ narrative.
    It was about time to expose this pervasive problem: Teachers are being harrassed, bullyied, and abandoned by their adminstrators and peers, all in the false premise of improving education. And what makes this trend disturbing is the silence of many abused teachers –it is akin to the “battered wife” syndrom. Teachers need to speak up on this subject now to stop this aberration from continuing.
    What is happening is wrong at many levels. It is wrong because harrassing teachers does not improve them. It is wrong because the system of high stakes testing that drives prinicpals and that the public in general do not know well is flawed and therefore innefective to conduce to better education. It is wrong because it is destroying the fiber that should connect the human activity that is teaching by defining teaching solely on terms of scores as if this was a race. It is wrong because all this ultimatelly affects students.
    Excellent first article on a subject that should be talked about, discussed and debated frequently.
    Who wins, who loses, who cares?
    In solidarity,
    Sergio Flores

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  18. Maureen says:

    I agree with the article which is why UNIONS are so necessary in all educational aspects. If you don’t have an adminstration or district that supports educators then many unions are too weak to impose infractions upon the bullying, whether it be by students, co-workers, adminstrators or district employees. There are also schools are not safe, unsanitary, poor air quality, et. Often I see teachers complain about the issues and go no further. WE are our own worst problem. They will keep doing these things unless WE stop them. If we keep doing what we have always done (ie. suck it up, too tired to complain, don’t ask for help, don’t unionize) then we will keep getting what we have always gotten. We have to be the catalyst for change. Who is more at fault, those that bully or those that do nothing to stop it from happening? Teachers do have power, and our greatest power comes in shear numbers of individuals wanting the same goal. We deserve better working conditions,a good living wage, TIME, support. Those are human rights issues. Get out, get active, push for unionization, be that CHANGE!

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  19. Kimmy says:

    There seems to be many of us… and each day we teach our kids about bullying.

    I was a victim of bullying in my school as well.
    Not only was it a co-worker, but also the union rep.
    I was called into a meeting with my union rep and my principal during a 1 1/2 hour meeting.

    Never proactive about my own feelings, I could not handle the stress, pressure and hurt it was all causing, and finally called the anti-bullying hotline that was offered to students. The hotline affirmed that I was being bullied so it helped me a bit.

    I do believe that bullies have insecurities, and learning each person’s insecurities is helpful in understanding them.

    I still have passion for the kids, but sometimes going through bullying can make teaching seem defeating. I love the children, but I want to do something else…

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  20. Pam says:

    If you would like to hear the dozens of excuses my representative, president and director of the local affiliate of the NEA came up with for being unable to advocate for me this year, you will have to buy my book. My union did nothing to help save my career as a public educator so I’m just going to have to go back to writing, and unlike my students, these people do not have any “confidentiality” to hide behind.

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  21. Donna says:

    I agree with Pam. The union has done very little to squelch the bullying of teachers by the micromanaging administrators who are intimidated by confident teachers. I am glad an article like this has and is finally being published by NEA. Having lived through two separate bullies from two different school districts, and now having earned my doctorate, I have prevailed and lived to tell about it and will be discussing in detail, when I publish my book. It is extremely demoralizing, confidence shattering, hurtful, and serves to diminish the excitement teachers possess. Instead of being confident and willing to go that extra mile we find ourselves not looking forward, but looking back over our shoulder as we are thinking “not what did I do that was right and good, but what am I going to do wrong next.”

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  22. noreen wynne says:

    Although I received my retirement, I will never completely recover from the pain of working on a PS system for 30 yrs and being bullied by various individuals within that system. They don’t want the public to know

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  23. Deborah B Mason says:

    I am a highly qualified certified professional teacher in Maine. I was bullied by a Sp. Ed. Director for 8 years. I had a physical and mental breakdown at the end of year 6. I returned with the promise and hope that things had changed. I resigned the at the beginning of year 8.

    The Supt. supported the Director and was a bully as well. I had worked in the district for atonal of 21 years and never had a single issue with any other administrator,faculty member or staff member.

    The NEA/MEA/local association did nothing. I paid my dues and was a supporter/recruiter for my association. when I resigned I was given no representation,no legal advice and no kindness. When I couldn’t get hired,I was told to file a claim for Disability Retirement. It took 28 months for the denial to be finalized on December 8,2011.

    I have no position. I sometimes substitute at a private Academy. I am unable to work full-time. I have no retirement. I COBRA my insurance (indefinitely because I was put on retirement status for health insurance only). I do not have enough credits for Soc. Sec. disability benefits because my last 10 years were with Maine Public Employees RS,despite contributing to SS for 31 years. I might qualify for MaineCare due to “inadequate earnings” for the past 4 years since resigning, but will not apply.

    I was told not to appeal my denial decision to Superior Court. The MEA has told me I don’t need to pay dues in July. I am no longer in a category they represent. The lawyer given to me for the Disability told me, “the MEA no longer pays him to represent teachers in Worker Compensation claims”and school districts have sovereign immunity and can not be sued.

    I have lost my career,my retirement,my health and well-being. I turn 60 in July and my Legislators say this is a legal matter and I should contact the Governor’s office or the Maine Human Rights Commission. I have been there,through two administrations since resigning. Nobody cares and nobody feels an obligation to explain it all to me.

    I will not be discarded and I will not allow a school district that allowed bullying and more,to determine the outcome of my case. I hope I find someone who cares about me and all the other teachers and personnel who have been and are currently being abused by administrators or anyone else in their workplace.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  24. Deborah B Mason says:

    I am a highly qualified certified professional teacher in Maine. I was bullied by a Sp. Ed. Director for 8 years. I had a physical and mental breakdown at the end of year 6. I returned with the promise and hope that things had changed. I resigned the at the beginning of year 8.

    The Supt. supported the Director and was a bully as well. I had worked in the district for a total of 21 years and never had a single issue with any other administrator,faculty member or staff member.

    The NEA/MEA/local association did nothing. I paid my dues and was a supporter/recruiter for my association. When I resigned I was given no representation,no legal advice and no kindness. When I couldn’t get hired,I was told to file a claim for Disability Retirement. It took 28 months for the denial to be finalized on December 8,2011.

    I have no position. I sometimes substitute at a private Academy. I am unable to work full-time. I have no retirement. I COBRA my insurance (indefinitely because I was put on retirement status for health insurance only). I do not have enough credits for Soc. Sec. disability benefits because my last 10 years were with Maine Public Employees RS,despite contributing to SS for 31 years. I might qualify for MaineCare due to “inadequate earnings” for the past 4 years since resigning, but will not apply.

    I was told not to appeal my denial decision to Superior Court. The MEA has told me I don’t need to pay dues in July. I am no longer in a category they represent. The lawyer given to me for the Disability told me, “the MEA no longer pays him to represent teachers in Worker Compensation claims”and school districts have sovereign immunity and can not be sued.

    I have lost my career,my retirement,my health and well-being. I turn 60 in July and my Legislators say this is a legal matter and I should contact the Governor’s office or the Maine Human Rights Commission. I have been there,through two administrations since resigning. Nobody cares and nobody feels an obligation to explain it all to me.

    I will not be discarded and I will not allow a school district that allowed bullying and more,to determine the outcome of my case. I hope I find someone who cares about me and all the other teachers and personnel who have been and are currently being abused by administrators or anyone else in their workplace.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  25. JoAnn says:

    Mary E. Thorson was a P.E. teacher who was bullied by her administation due to her feeling like NO ONE WOULD LISTEN and adhere, she committed suicide on Thanksgiving 2011. Her father John Thorson created a petition at
    http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-secretary-of-education-stop-bullying-and-making-teachers-change-grades-to-pass-students
    There is also a documentary viewing on June 30, 2012. Please go to http://www.marythorsondocfilm.com for more information.

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  26. Mike says:

    I need to remain anonymous.

    I would like to document bullying incidents on the part of administrators in a local school district. Some of the teacher victims have been forced to leave for the sake of their mental health. Others are approaching retirement and can not afford to leave, in spite of the horrible stress they are under. I need to protect these teachers from retribution on the part of the administration.

    How should I proceed?

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  27. Mike, here’s a story with resources that can help you. Gilbert Public Schools (Arizona) tried to fire an acclaimed National Board Certified Teacher after she reported bullying, racial discrimination and retaliation. Sarah Green, M.Ed. NBCT, has become a poster child for what happens to teachers who report bullying in the classroom. The teacher is pretty, but the poster is ugly.

    Sarah reported bullying in her third grade classroom at Meridian Elementary School in February 2011, where she taught for six years. She worked diligently to resolve the problems she reported internally and informally. The situation was dire: at least one student was afraid to come to school for fear of the bully. No one at the district level would help the students who were victims of bullying. The district instead commissioned investigations that stretched out past the end of the school year. An investigating attorney provoked the bully’s parents into filing a complaint against the teacher for her “unprofessionalism” with regard to her reporting of their child’s bullying.

    The district brought 20 charges against Sarah on December 6, 2011, the first of which concerns her initial report of bullying. The district appears confident they can nail her for such zingers as “donated five copies of her book to the library” (Charge #8), “sent the Technology Services Help Desk an email” (Charge #11), and “referred to efforts to monitor her as ‘double secret probation.’” (Charge # 15). The GEA President commented to a Board Member was that Sarah is a “great teacher, just not suitable for the Gilbert environment.” The NEA has a moral obligation to deal with this perfidy within its ranks.

    In Sarah’s case, she immediately demanded a public hearing on the charges. The school district waited until May 2012 and decided to withdraw all charges against Sarah rather than convene a public hearing. Sarah gained a full year of pay and benefits, as well as the district’s reimbursement for her legal fees. The most important aspect of this limited settlement is that Sarah retains all of her legal claims against the district!
    Bottom line: that teachers cannot speak out against their employer; to do so while on admin leave would be considered disloyal and probably would result in dismissal for cause. Teachers under fire need a champion who can speak for them.

    Read Sarah’s story at http://www.WesternConnections.com and use the resources we have assembled to help teachers in similar circumstances. Local media coverage with citizen commentary is online at http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/20120524gilbert-teacher-loses-job-settlement.html

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  28. Margareta says:

    I am being bullied. I took a job as a paraeducator, but I hold a teaching certificate. I work with a team of several individuals, and they are all certified to teach as well. I am a bit of an introvert to begin with, and I am much older then my co-workers, which I suppose only adds to the problems of being able to relate to each other well. Anything I do wrong, or that could possibly be stretched into looking like I did wrong, is immediately reported to my superior, while if I raise any valid questions or concerns to anyone higher up, I am ignored for weeks on end. One of my co-workers snaps at me on a regular basis, and this person does this in front of other staff and even students. When I talk, this person rolls their eyes. When I ask them why they are doing this they say, “I didn’t roll my eyes, what are you talking about.” It’s very strange, but when this person is not around, others are respectful and polite, but when this person is around, everyone pretty much ignores me. It’s also interfered with my ability to get information that I need in order to do my job. I am left out of the loop on important meetings and new guidelines, etc.. While I once loved my job, I am contemplating leaving. I know that this would make it difficult for me to ever get a teaching job, but at what point does your health and emotional well being become more important? Furthermore, why is it always perceived that the person who’s being bullied (“…you don’t fit in/get along with the team members”) is the one at fault?

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  29. Bryan Trim says:

    I am shaking as I write this. I was a first year teacher. I am alternatively certified through the military Troops to Teachers program.

    I took a job at a school with them fully knowing that I have had no real formal training as a teacher.

    I got one eval and was told everything was fine. I gave up on sending students to the office who were discipline problems. Finally the day came when a student refused to go to the office for a blatant dress code violation.

    The next two days were testing days. I came back the second day and the students were asking me why I had not been fired yet. It was evidently all over Face Book that I had been accused of a number of things. My students were all interrogated, and later that day I was escorted from the school by law enforcement. I was never told what I had supposedly done.

    A week later, I had a meeting with the superintendent. I was accused of many things, most of them taken out of context or blatantly false.

    Since there was nothing real they could accuse me of, I was put on admin leave with pay until the end of the school year.

    So here it is: I was never given any real help as a first year teacher, and was basically trying not to drown. My smallest class was 26, my largest was 37. My coteacher never showed up, even though my class was nearly 50% special education. Since then, several teachers from my old school who were friends with the principal have tried to get into my FB to see what I am talking about. I have also found out that the friend of one of these teachers has been given my job, even though she holds no certification.

    I bought my own supplies, did my best to make science fun and accessible to the students….but in the end, I was thrown out like so much garbage without an explanation.

    Oklahoma does not have a real union. I belong to the NEA, but it did not occur to me to seek higher level help.

    Bullying can also be professional ostracism.

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  30. Mary Stansil says:

    I thought I was alone and that I was in the wrong. I have been the victim of bulling for years and my wake up call was watching the required video on workplace harassment. Last year was rough, but at the end I realized that I have allowed myself to be a victim. Finally, I made an appointment with a super and was told more teacher voices needed to be heard. I began conversations carefully at school and discovered I was not the only victim of administration bulling. Others went to this super and followed up with NEA. As a veteran teacher I finally woke up that I have an obligation to be a role model not only for students, but also for colleges.

    NEA, please keep up with this topic.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  31. AL says:

    As sad as this is, reading these responses provide some comfort in knowing that I am not alone in what I have been going through. At this point, I can’t determine when the bullying first began but it has likely been 5 years. It has in great part been caused by my refusal to inflate grades, but also in administration’s desire to make every parent happy in our “school of choice” county, regardless of the egregious or negligent behavior or parent or student. Either way, the effects on my physical and mental health have been extreme; my doctor even suggested that to get healthy I would need to get a new job. Anyone who knows me (even, I suspect, the main perpetrators of the bullying), knows that I am dedicated to my job. I regularly attend and present at statewide conferences, am on a statewide coalition, and have begun two gardens at my school and brought in nearly a thousand dollars in grant money. I voluntarily run an after school club whose efforts help the whole school receive recognition. (My vagueness is to preserve some anonymity.) It is not uncommon for me to work 12 hour days. I have training in and consistently implement strategies incorporating multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction and full-body experiences. This past school year I had a full time special ed teacher and ELL support teacher in my room; both of them have been teaching over 25 years, and each told me that I do the best job of any teacher they have worked with in our district. The point of this? Go check out my evaluation. You won’t find “highly effective” anywhere on it – even in the “Professionalism” category. (Incidentally, every other science teacher got a higher evaluation than I did; including the one who has shown a video in her class for 30 days in a row.) I contended the evaluation – a long story in itself, but never got any satisfaction at all. The details on my side are overwhelming, and the case of my administrators looks downright ridiculous. Teachers in other departments agreed that the whole system in our building is a farce. The even bigger consequence? With Michigan’s legislative changes to teacher evaluations and essential ending of seniority, I now have a .8 position for next year. This is not the first year the bullying has been so extreme, but with “education reform” the consequences are now adding financial consequences to my health and emotional costs. I feel teaching is a calling and a profession, not just a job, but when I am off in the summer, I can hardly bear to think about going back. I remind myself that I do it for the kids, and I do, but I keep feeling like the personal cost to do the right thing is bringing me to the tipping point. As with other commenters, there has been little to no union assistance this year. During one year my union was a strong ally, but as we had no contract, no grievances were being accepted. I therefore could not grieve the hoops of the 18-page “mini” assistance plan I had to follow. With some of the legislative changes, in fact, my union is actually legally unable to help me, e.g. with my evaluation concerns. I feel more like a lawyer as I document and document every contact, comment and datum; I have even considered filing a civil lawsuit, but I don’t know the steps and may not have the funds. I have enough friends in other districts to know that grade inflation and the systemic disintegration of ethics in the schools is not limited to my district. I just wish that all those who are contributing to the perpetuation of grade inflation, lack of discipline, demonization of teachers and treating schools like businesses and education as a political pawn could see could see — it does not help kids, and it certainly does not help our society as a whole. I am bullied for being a holdout to good educational values; how much longer will I and others like me be able to keep up the good fight?

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  32. Kbert says:

    I was given a position that the parent of one of my students had applied for. At the start of the school year, the child’s mother brought a group of parents to meet with me. She didn’t talk, but the others asked what made me think I was qualified to teach math to their children. They complained that the class wasn’t rigorous enough, not enough homework was assigned, etc. Projects that I assigned were dismissed as useless fluff, even though other teachers later assigned them to great fanfare. The homework issue was an easy fix. However, the same parents then wrote a formal letter to administration that they were having to help their children with their math homework, indicating that I was doing a poor job of instruction. Though I dedicated nearly all my lunch hours to helping students, and was available after school on a daily basis until nearly 6 pm., their children never took advantage of my help. That did not matter to the parents. The child whose parent had not been hired, acted out in class nearly every day. He questioned every lesson that was taught, opined that my lessons were stupid and useless, changed answers on corrected papers and tests, then claimed I had made mistakes when going over his papers. When I employed manipulatives, the child threw them about the room. My hands were tied. Anything I did brought further grief upon me. In my hearing, the student even told other students how easy it would be to “off” the superintendent. That resulted in him receiving a slap on the hand from the principal.

    My principal knew what was going on. She said it was unfair, but then stated that life is not fair. The following year she filled another math position with the parent who had been so disappointed to lose out to me. Amazingly, the furor about my teaching died down. For a time. When the new hire had his own share of problems as an algebra instructor and was assigned to a basic math class for the following year, he gave notice that he would not be returning, Suddenly the heat was back on me. Parents, who just happened to be neighbors of the teacher in question, or whose children were close friends of his sonr, again began questioning everything I did. Finally, a parent wrote to the principal requesting the loan of math books over the summer. Because of the poor quality of my instruction, a group of parents had decided to hire a summer tutor to bring their children back up to speed. Guess who they hired to be the tutor?

    My principal assigned me to the basic math position, telling me to lay low for a year or two, after which time the families involved would have passed on to the high school. Sadly, the furor never quite died down. People from the original group continually found fault with the school and the principal. They took their complaints to the op ed section of the local paper, and offered up the ‘incompetent’ math instructor as proof that the principal was not on top of her game. Despite previously excellent performance reviews, I was riffed rather than granted tenure.

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  33. EarlyBird says:

    This is why I retired early. There did not seem to be anywhere to turn. I had a supervisor who bullied me for years…made me do extra work that no one else in the department was required to do and more, and that’s just for starters. I hesitate to specify because I wouldn’t want to be identified by the incidents. Trust me…I was targeted to the point that even my co-workers noticed it. I called the union and was told she was “within her rights” even though what she was doing to me was not fair or equitable. Add to that treatment the bullying from students and parents. What job requires you to take insults from those you serve based on their age? They make comments about your clothing or your weight and you hear: “They’re just kids, ignore it”. I’d like to see that in an office. They curse and disrupt things and when you call the parent they essentially call you a liar and you’re in for more bullying because they will say “Not MY kid!” Too much. Too long. Too many times. The day I retired was one of the happiest in my life. I wanted to help kids, not enable them. I did not want to be adulated, just given due respect. I teach in New Jersey where my governor has anti-bullying laws that make me responsible for things that happen OUT OF SCHOOL….but there is no recourse for me if I am bullied right in my own classroom.

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  34. Susan says:

    I have witnessed workplace bullying and I believe I may have become a victim. The union rep. and state association have turned their backs. I have a hard time understanding this kind of treatment of teachers in the field of education. We pay dues and where is the support when needed? What is the NEA willing to do?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  35. Bigbird says:

    How can bullying of students be reduced if teachers are bullied?

    It is a fine line between requiring improvements that teachers don’t want to make, and bullying. Bullying is power and control. Playground bullies are not typically asking for modifications for improvement of delivery or academic progress. Bullies target those individuals they cannot figure out how to get along with or how to respect despite differences.

    In teaching, this is a poor administrator. Administrators must have skills to get along with a great range of individuals, including those with whom they disagree. A poor administrator is one who is using the power of the position to “win”, not lead.

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  36. MAB says:

    Bullying teachers (especially veteran teachers) by principals is common place and encouraged by district administation in the Seattle School District….also common place is the fact that the Seattle Education Association has done nothing to stop it and instead facilitates separation agreements between the teacher and the school district….these agreements terribly one-sided with clauses that prevent the teachers from speaking publicly about their situations or that prevent the teacher from taking legal action. SEA is not representing their members, so I ask what leadeship is coming to them from the national and state levels? What is NEA willing to do?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. John says:

    I was Bullied for 5 long years. After 7 successful years under a veteran Principal (I tool over for a legendary Teacher who retired after nearly 40 years of service) an entirely new “regime” moved in along with their “Safety Manager” who started the whole “bullying atmosphere” The Union can be of help but they can’t stop the Principal from escalating the “game” each time she looses a grievance procedure. I was yelled at in School Community Council meetings, budget reduced to zero, told to leave the school by a certain time because I was “wasting electricity”, ordered to break down shelving that I paid for and built with my own time and money, told that I was creating a fire hazard by storing equipment on the shelves (the Union found worse conditions in other classrooms and actual fire code violations in the school’s office) etc…etc…etc… but when performances were being cancelled under the guise of preserving classroom time due to furloughs, I knew it was time to leave. It’s kind of ironic that I left a community that I worked in for 12 years as a teacher and assisted the “Legend” and the local High School while I taught in another community for many years prior to my transferring there because the Bullying was now affecting my students. Now just 2 years removed, my former robust program is more than 50% smaller and dropping and the High School which was “the Program in the State” is nearly dead. I am so fortunate to hook up with a a Principal who was my V.P. in my 5th year of teaching (this year will be my 28th) We’re on a roll again and the High School that we feed into has increased their program’s enrollment by over 100% You can’t fight the Principal, transfer out as soon as the bullying starts. I’ll admit that it was difficult leaving my colleagues and the parents and the students in the community that have become great friends but they are not a reason to risk your health and mental well being over! Now I have new colleagues, a new group of parents who have become supporters and friends, my former students come to help with our Summer Program and my Doctor (though he refuses to take me off of medication) is now praising me for the blood pressure and heart rate of a 20 year old! GET OUT! You can do what you do where ever you go (even in a notorious lower income area where I am now). Teaching is fun again and when I have fun, you can bet that the kids in my charge will have a great time too!

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  38. DEW says:

    I happen to be a veteran Educator of Color who’s also with Seattle Public Schools, and have endured harsh practices that involves discrimination with age and race; along with bullying and harassment from insecure and arrogant administrators and even some teachers. And get this, because I am an Educator of Color, my physical appearance often catches people off guard especially when meeting me for the first time. Many have often remarked afterwards that my name doesn’t match what I look like. This shouldn’t even be an issue within the realm of teaching (let alone within any other profession). But sadly, in Seattle, it flourishes. And as the fellow Educator from Seattle has mentioned, our union-Seattle Education Association (SEA), doesn’t do anything to intervene nor resolve incidents like this. Instead, they often blame the victims. Yet the preceding example I provided, is just the “tip of the iceberg” when interpreting all the mess that we have to go through on a day-to-day basis. We’re practically at a boiling point knowing that our own union refuses to initiate assistance. And this gets so frustrating knowing that they’re collecting pay for doing nothing! Now because I use to be a .05/part time employee, I was ultimately stunned to hear my assigned union representative tell me “well, since you are a .05 employee, I’m only going to assist you part time”!

    I simply refused any further “help” from this individual and told her that “I could do ‘bad’ by myself”!

    Ain’t that a blip?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  39. lois says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  40. Lisbeth Solberg says:

    Richard Du Fours and the Learning Tree people have tips for administrators who want to drum out “uncooperative” teachers (translate: teachers who do not want to work beyond contracted hours without compensation). Demanding formal daily lesson plans a week in advance for years at a time, popping in unannounced at the very end of class, “interviewing” students privately, skewing ratings on formal and informal reviews: all are methods from the script. We will see more and more of this by and by so be ready!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  41. R says:

    Wow, this story hit home for me. Just this past year I was extremely bullied when I accepted a position that two other co-workers had hoped their friend would fill. Not only was I confronted by their friend during a day she was subbing, but I was also verbally attacked, being told I was not qualified for the job. It was my main goal to prove them wrong, and show them that I was deserving of the position. I ended up working myself into the ground. I was stressed and quite possibly depressed. I had anxiety attacks over this situation on my way to work, and it was not until I got the e-mail saying I was accepted for a transfer to another school in the district that I began calming down. I never felt like I was ‘safe’ in this position because these women had been working in the district for many years and had many strong ties. I did speak with my principal about this, but we both decided it was within my best interest to ‘sweep it under the rug’ for the rest of the year for my own professional safety. I think it is so upsetting and hypocritical that many educators are stressing the importance of decreasing bullying, when in fact, they are contributing to the problem. I am a new person after this experience, I am so hopeful and excited for a new start, and to be in a place where I am accepted.

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  42. SCEA fan says:

    I want to say THANK YOU to the South Carolina Education Association for its support of faculty and staff regarding this issue. While I am saddened to read that that is not the case in other regions of the country, I am pleased to report that the SCEA is a strong source of support for teachers facing a harrassing, bullying administrator or principal. Our local rep is
    indefatigable in informing us of pending legislation, school board meeting reports, policies and procedures, etc. A few years ago, several teachers at my school had an issue with the principal. I won’t go into the details, but the SCEA was right there to support the teachers–from crafting written responses, providing guidance for the grievance process, holding support meetings–they “had the teachers back.”

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  43. Cheyenne says:

    I’m glad to hear that the Union is now taking some action regarding the bullying that takes place between administrators, department chairs and their teachers. It has been a very emotional exhausting 3 years, which has made a negative impact on my health. It takes alot of information, and documentation to prove you have been bullied!! The administration doesn’t realize that I have colleagues that spill the negative talk towards me. Custodians were told not to help me at all. I had to lift and move office areas 5 times in the past 10 years. My family had to come in and help me. The sped social worker also was told she was not to help me in anyway with behavior plans or communicate with me concerning a student. The social worker stated that many people were told not to help me with anything. As a SpEd instructor we should work together as a team in support of the parent and student…that didn’t happen in the past 3 years. The administration along with my dept. chair has tried to take all that I love in teaching and extracurricular activites. Power, and control is a major problem…the bullying needs to stop before we lose great teachers whom have won awards for there work with students and parents. Please stop them… it does exist and someone who has the authority to do so, should listen to what is happening. For if the union doesn’t control this nonsense I’m sure an outside attorney would enjoy taking a case like this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. Salander says:

    I too am a teacher in Seattle Public Schools. I have been bullied by my principal for nearly two years. I have been required to spend numerous hours writing literally dozens of lesson plans. My principal hands me back these plans with his “suggestions”. My principal has never been a teacher, has not even been and intern teacher and does not hold a teaching credential. His suggestion make no sense to any teacher yet I am rated unsatisfactory for not following his plans.
    I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan that covered, initially covered 74 areas. I was able to negotiate that down to about 26 areas. But guess what? The negative feedback from the principal did not have anything to do with these areas. Instead it was a random collection of what I was doing wrong in the way I handed back papers or I didn’t turn the all the room lights back on when the moment I finished using the projector. If I did this to my students I would be considered a bully.

    My local Seattle Education Association union rep participated in the bullying. I am paying out nearly $100 a month for union representation. This is extortion. With the much money a month I would rather hire an attorney who represents my interests. Instead I am paying for that out of what is left of my meager pay check.

    According to the vast majority of my students and and parent and a neutral observer I am an excellent teacher. According to my evaluations for the past 20 some years I am an excellent teacher. Then this ed reform lackey comes along and all of the sudden I am incompetent.

    I stopped the bullying by taking a five month health leave. I am now being treated by multiple caregivers and using a variety of medications just to stabilize my diagnosed PTSD.

    Yet, when I return to my classroom in the fall I have been threatened that it will all start over. I will have one month to make improvements (in God knows what)and then, when I receive another unsatisfactory rating I will be fired. This is what I have to look forward to in the coming weeks.

    Even though I teach to the accepted state and local standards and the vast majority of my students reach those standards I will be fired for holding my pencil in a way not approved by ed reformers.

    Shame on my local, state and national union for allowing this to happen.

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  45. John Scarbi says:

    What about the way students bully us online with ratemyteachers.com and teachercomplaints.com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  46. David says:

    My principal is a bully as well. I was a victim for my first 4 years with him and then something changed. I didn’t do anything different but he stopped bullying me. I think he just moved on to a ‘better’ target. We lose teachers all the time, some in the middle of the school year. Our district does climate surveys and our school/principal respresents poorly on the survey but the district does very little about it. It is bad enough to have a bully but even worse to have it ignored by the people in power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  47. Tom Fourman says:

    I read a brief mention of non-union teachers being bullied by union teachers; but I didn’t see any mention of harassment within the union, of members that do not support liberal issues, or Democratic candidates. This is a serious problem in some schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. C. Davis says:

    This is a prevalent labor issue in Waterbury, Connecticut school system. One example that became recognized was the forced changing of student test scores. This is especially prevalent in the Special Education Department, where supervisors reprimand and demean teachers in places like a PPT meeting, hallway transitions, and even in the classroom.

    The sad thing is that everyone knows it’s happening…and no one does anything about it. We are loosing exceptional educations because of this abuse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  49. Wahoowa says:

    This happens everywhere all of the time. I don’t know which is worse: behavior of administration or the parents. At least when the behavior of the child is poor, there is some sense of willingness to forgive. But, when grown adults like to bully teachers, there is no forgiveness. I have witnessed it on many occasions, including seeing it happen to my wife. By the way, we teach in the same school. Three years was enough for her. Teachers are afraid to speak out for fear of having a target on their back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. Lieutenance says:

    As an educator, I view daily issues with students bullying the teachers in the school. When a young teacher is afraid to enter her classroom–most students in the high school look older than the new teachers (typically only about 21-22 when they start) a definite issue arrises. I understand why some behaviors are dealt with in certain ways–special needs students can only receive x number of days all year and the parents who don’t wish to take responsibility for the behavior of their own kids are fully aware of the legal issues surrounding removal of their students.
    Students are guaranteed a safe environment for their education–however–when we are full of low performing bullies that would rather push the envelope of propriety in the classroom vs. try to learn just the basics- a problem exists that needs to be addressed. My district has a severe discipline problem and according to the teachers across the state–this problems exists in all districts. We endeavor to find a resolution and have to provide the necessary support to the districts to allow correction and removal of the offenders if appropriate. The answers– 1–install cameras in the classrooms, labs and shops–protects the teachers, 2–with limited administrators in the schools–principals are relying on deans and others to try to facilitate discipline–time to get the school resource officers into the issue–and 3–make the parents responsible legally for their students behavior (i.e. SPANK THE PARENTS). Amazing how quickly a student comes into line when a parent has to return them to school when they misbehave. –forgot #4–find a method of removing or blocking the cell phones–students, teachers and administration haven’t the maturity and discipline to use them appropriately–until they learn–remove or block access.
    thank you

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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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  2. [...] Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools | NEA Today [...]

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