Friday, October 31, 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

869 Responses to “Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools”
  1. Kim Werner says:

    Thank you Johnathan K. We do need to organize and I believe we can do it around the Kemp Mill ES case from Montgomery County. Here’s the link to an article about the case. The lawsuit links from there.

    .http://www.gazette.net/article/20120320/NEWS/703209961/1122/schoolsmontgomery/Teachers-sue-principal-Board-of-Education&template=gazette

    Because this case will be heard, it speaks for all of us. I believe if we are organized and send letters to the media in support of that case–and tell our own stories–we all will be heard. That’s where the “let’s-get-organized” piece comes in. I’m not sure yet as to which media organization we’ll send our support. It’s important. though, that we do it comprehensively.

    A member of our group has created a standard form for us to use. I will work at getting it up electronically on line and on my website at http://www.apiecefullworld.com. I may need some help with that. If someone is out there with that kind of technology savvy, please let me know.

    And so, everybody, please read the Kemp Mill ES case. We will get organized and take action from there.

    Kim

    P.S. Sincere thanks to those of you who have already contacted me.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. annemarie says:

    My principal is targeting older teachers. She is basically doing all the things this article described. Now she also has more power since RI won the race for the top money and has implemented the new educator evaluation system. Our principals and vice principals are in charge of evaluating us and this year my principal chose to evaluate all her victims(even after a request was made for the VP to do the evals). She refused to look at all the evidence presented by her victims and gave them a failing score. I worked with one of these teachers to help her set up her evidence in an organized way. I organized my binder the same way with pretty much the same data. My VP gave me an effective rating (3 out of 4) while my co worker received a 1 out of 4 from the principal. The situation in unacceptable but what can we do? It’s scary.

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  3. Kim Werner says:

    I am curious to know what “your comment is awaiting moderation” means. Anyone know?

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

  4. Jonathan K. says:

    Hey Kim!

    It means you rocked the boat!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. montgomery county maryland abuse victim says:

    What did you put in your comment?
    Targets, please contact kimwerner@apiecefullworld.com if you wish to connect with others in a confidential manner regarding this issue.
    We all need to support each other.

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

  6. Jonathan K. says:

    After you’ve experienced “Wrongful Dismissal”, “Defamation of Character”, and none of your calls or emails get returned you’ll understand the full impact of this horrible phenomena-

    My initial reaction was that I let down my family and failed as a teacher. Fortunately, I had some great friends and a mentor that fixed me up & now I’m ready to take them on!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  7. MK says:

    Annemarie at 5:33–thank you for giving a strong example of the role age discrimination is playing in this mess. What did your union rep have to say about your portfolio getting a higher score than the older teacher’s, in spite of them being the same?? I’m guessing the union was no help. They are standing right with school boards that are cutting the budgets on the backs of the older, experienced, and expensive teachers. I know this is true–I fit the above description and couldn’t get a good evaluation if I had paid for it. I was degraded, insulted, and made to feel like I had absolutely no skills as a teacher any longer. I was nonrenewed and cannot get interviews. I am now jobless 5 years before I can retire. I’m scared to death. NEA, where are you in this??? Why aren’t we hearing from you??? We pay you enough–step up to the plate and give us something in return. These stories of abuse are appalling and should not be happening in a country that claims to respect us and need us.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  8. CJ says:

    This also happened to me. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and had no sense of worth whatsoever, even though my kids had scored a 99% pass rate on the state testing. A young principal terrorized our building targeting older teachers or those who questioned her actions. She falsified information and made false accusations on evaluations,and even tore up letters of protest sent to be placed in my permanent file. I was forced to take on exstra jobs and work long hours without extra pay and was constantly threatened with loss of my position. Our union representation was friendly with her and did not want to be on her bad side, so I did not get support there. I tried to transfer to another school and she blocked it and blackened my name with other principals. She directed me to disregard IEP mandates and do what she told me to and then wrote me up as not following mods when I protested. She made life aboslute hell. She is a protege of the superintendent and was promoted to head the high school. Now they are miserable. She has told people she plans to be the superintendent one day soon. God help us all if she succeeds. I was surprised that even her cronies did not miss her when she left, but it was like a cloud lifted from our building. NEA, teachers need help. We are totally at the mercy of these people. You can say “keep records, yada, yada, but if a principal goes after you there is no end to the damage they can do.

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  9. Washington Educator says:

    “Another one”. I accidently touched the dislike button, I am sooooo sorry, o
    I agree with you 100%,

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  10. Kim Werner says:

    Fellow Targets,

    I am perplexed as to why one of my comments is being held for moderation. Is there any one else who has tried to comment here and had your comment held while it awaits moderation? I see a few comments that are not displayed, because apparently those comments have gotten too many “thumbs down”, but we can still view them if we want.

    I have copied my “awaiting moderation” comment on my website as this week’s blog post. Here’s the link:

    http://www.apiecefullworld.com/id66.html

    I am finding this “awaiting moderation” troubling…..

    Kim

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  11. Jonathan K. says:

    What is NEA doing? Not that I don’t appreciate a forum that allows us to vent, but it’s obvious we need legal help with this matter. These “runaway trains” called Superintendents and Principals are destroying education and the lives of the individuals most invested in it- the TEACHERS!

    We need to organize, hire legal representation, and march to WASHINGTON if need be!

    We have to put an end to the bullying of teachers by administrators who are abusing the power of their public positions.

    I was in a discussion with a Superintendent in her office after returning from a medical leave (broken rib/severely sprained ankle)and she began throwing F-Bombs at me- All I could do was chuckle until she stopped. I said “B—— you wouldn’t be doing this if there were other people in the room-” She kicked open the door, called in her secretary, a kind woman who I had a good relationship with and said “P——, Mr. —— thinks I wouldn’t talking like this if someone else was in the room. Take notes-” I could see P—— was embarrassed and uncomfortable taking part in the Superintendent’s tirade. When she exhausted herself and there was a pause I intervened “B——, did you look in my personnel file to see if there was a Dr.’s note?” She did not. I told her that upon my return the first thing I did was drop off the hospital records and Dr.’s note. She suddenly realized she looked horrible in her dealings with my injury. I rolled up my pants to show her the still swollen ankle that had turned an awful shade of purple and yellow… She then went into damage control and tried to make nice- I looked at the round table, the one I was seated at while she circled and cussed at me and commented on the bowl that was in the middle “B——, when I walked in and saw that the glass bowl in the middle of the table was filled with rocks and not candy, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy!” She laughed and told me the bowl had been a gift to which I responded “I’m sure it was-” Years later when I filed my defamation suit against the another Superintendent, one of her friends, B—— chimed in and reported untruths to the media. I wanted after her in a bad way, but my Lawyer backed down and tried to convince me that that wasn’t our battle… (It most certainly was!) I’m still paying for her comments that appeared in print. She retired this year–

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  12. another one says:

    As I sit here daily reading our venting which are really concerns several things have come to mind.

    1. The younger administration that are targeting the older teachers, are actually afraid that the veterans know more than they do, and possible feels the veterans will pick up on their insecurities where the younger teachers won’t. They basically do not know how to relate to older teachers and want the younger teachers who “get them”.

    2. Then administrators who bully the awesome teachers are insecure themselves and must be surrounded by weak teachers to make themselves look good. It’s a power trip to see who they can put on their “I’m going to get you list”

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  13. EM says:

    Ik, so we’re being targetted and bullied. We all know it. The war on teachers is backed by the Public. It could not be their own fault the kids are messed up. So I am going to be emailing the NEA and asking them to read this blog. Also, I am going to send a link to the President of our Union wher I live.

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  14. Cindi says:

    I was bullied by a principal for the past two years. The first year she felt that I wasn’t doing a good job of teaching and had resource teachers come into my classroom 4 out of 5 days for two hours in the morning and they taught my class. Not once did either of the two teachers work with me on lesson plans, pacing, or classroom management which I supposidly needed to improve. It was suppose to be a coaching cycle that never happened. I kept every hand written note, even the ones on post-its, email, lesson plans that the resource teachers did and even wrote in a calendar planner every time, day, etc. that the principal came into my room. I made an official complaint to my union, but was ultimately told that she was doing nothing wrong. The union even suggested that I file a harassement grievance with my HR, which I didn’t do for fear of making things worse. Myself and only one other teacher dealt with this.

    The second year, the attack was put on paper through an Improvement Plan. This year, basically every teacher was put onto an improvement plan. She made several “unofficial” observations which she is allowed to do. Again, I kept all documentation. I went to my union again only to be told to confront her. Like I’m going to confront her? I don’t think so. She retired at the end of this last school year, but I still have to continue onto Phase II of the Improvement Plan.

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  15. Elayne. says:

    I had a principal who thought I was a great teacher. I was a new hire at the bottom of the pay scale and he bullied me and everyone else for fun. He liked watching us squirm. I was told by everyone to just ignore him. One day, after he announced he was leaving, he screamed at me in the hallway for not CCing him on an email I sent out about the next year scheduling. Bullies are everywhere. There wasn’t much I could do because he was leaving and I had excellent reviews. It was still demoralizing and wrong.

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  16. Elin says:

    I know about unions. I’m a firm believer in them. I’m also a union representative for my school, but unfortunately, I think many of our unions are beginning to cave, thinking more of themselves, than of the rank and file teachers concerns.

    One example: We, the 21 teachers who had the greatest of seniority for the teaching of Summer School 2011, have not been vindicated…instead I see a union who caved when they allowed the district to tell them who the 4 people among the 21 they thought should have been hired, but “opps! they caught their mistake”. Instead, the union should have said “all for one, and one for all” we will not settle until all 21 have been shown that they too should have been hired.

    About the bullying of teachers, I know this full well. I know it for myself (23 years teaching), and I know it for others too. My grievance with my union is that in each of the last 3 years there have been excuses why a grievance at “this” time was inconvenient. I’ve been told…either “not now, it’s too late in the year”, to last year when I felt my integrity as a teacher had been severely trounced, our new CTA director said to me, “we’ve got greater problems than yours that need our work”, . .”Hey, you passed your review, that’s really all that matters”. Well, no, that’s not all that matters…when one’s integrity is at state, there is a whole lot more that matters for me.

    What I’d like to see is a real effort by our union to use the Conflict Mediation norms, as they have been used successfully with the students, student to student, when dealing with teacher bullying by the principals of the teachers.

    Thank you for publishing this article.

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  17. EM says:

    More info on bullying>>> see reference below…” it’s easy to imagine a few other good reasons for a stated intention to quit: First, a workplace where bullying is pervasive is almost certainly a poorly managed workplace, which is by any measure a good enough reason to quit (especially in a profession like nursing, where demand for skilled workers is high; and in a country like Canada, where unemployment is not as high as in the U.S.). Second, its quite likely that people who are watching colleagues get bullied are feeling at least a little guilty about not being able—or, perhaps, not even trying—to stop it. That’s another strong reason to think about looking for a new job. And third, at least some people must be thinking, What if I’m next? Better to get the heck out of Dodge than wait for the bully to turn on you.”

    Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/07/12/workplace-bullying-the-problem-and-its-costs-are-worse-than-we-thought/?iid=biz-main-lede#ixzz22KzZnIpQ

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  18. Jonathan K. says:

    In my experience many Superintendents assume the role of Dictators. They begin to believe the school system is theirs. It’s not! They are only temporary hires- I’ve worked at three schools and two of the Superintendents were Dictators. I took some business courses and what I got out of it was unethical behavior starts at the top (top-down). The example given was a triangle. Most unethical Superintendents surround themselves with unethical administrators, weak ones who will do as they say. The disease trickles down through the school system from the top. If you are working at a school that practices unethical behavior and you are an ethical person- they’ll get you out! (especially if they think you’re a whistle-blower) Piss them off and they’ll end your career. It’s a public hanging for the rest of the ranks to learn from. Not a good place to be–

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  19. Scarlett Wolfe says:

    Now do not get me wrong. i have not been a personal target from Virginia De los santos, but i have heard (which may be speculated, but trust me its all true) about her torment upon employees of the school she teaches at. She has minions who work for her, who spy on her employees, her co-workers. People who are supposed to trust her, and possibly learn from her beacause she is supposed to be a leader, feel constant demise from her actions. It is sickening to find out information such as this. I felt the need to write a letter to the superintendent about her actions. Her actions have resulted in teachers leaving their jobs, depression, and overall misery. No person should ever have to feel this way about their jobs and about themselves. A leader is someone who helps develop talents, who leads by example, who motivates and inspires others. This woman is not a leader. She is a tyrant. It seems that her only joy is to influence and create misery for those around her if they do not play by her rules. This is a woman i do not care to get to know the whole story from, because it was not only one person she has negatively affected, there are many. Multiple people would not write the same things about a person and it turn out to be a lie, especially if they were the targets. It is a travisty to her profession to act in this manor. I hope for her sake and the sake of the minions she controls that they all learn professional courtesy and respect for others.

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  20. never will know says:

    There is even bullying against other administrators when they do not agree with their ways. It’s quite sad, but now and days professionalism has gone out the window. The only thing that keeps me going is that everything happens for a reason and eventually their tyranny will end. It’s is definitely hard to speak up when you have no voice.

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  21. J Regan says:

    Is anyone addressing teachers being bullied by students and parents?

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  22. Jonathan K. says:

    Teachers get bullied by teachers and parents because administration allows it. In my case, administration made it a point to see that it happened. When I gave one student a detention for yelling the F-bomb early one Monday morning, the tech coordinator removed it and told me “It’s Monday morning, everyone takes a little time to adjust to being back-” He essentially cut off my flow of testosterone (OUCH!) and there I was- powerless! Right where he wanted me. Hoping my lack of power would lead to more disciplinary problems and either I’d resign or get fired! When they want you out they’ll stop at nothing- they’ll even use the kids-

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  23. Jonathan K. says:

    Teachers get bullied by STUDENTS and parents because administration allows it. In my case, administration made it a point to see that it happened. When I gave one student a detention for yelling the F-bomb early one Monday morning, the tech coordinator removed it and told me “It’s Monday morning, everyone takes a little time to adjust to being back-” He essentially cut off my flow of testosterone (OUCH!) and there I was- powerless! Right where he wanted me. Hoping my lack of power would lead to more disciplinary problems and either I’d resign or get fired! When they want you out they’ll stop at nothing- they’ll even use the kids-

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  24. Scarlett Wolfe says:

    So i was browsing through some of the comments on here. There was this one particular comment i saw from a person who said this site was becoming a whine fest. I just wanted to say that if a teacher has to get on a website such as this one to vent about their everyday misery they should. It is bad enough that it takes multiple complaints on a person for anyone to do anything about it… i may be wrong, but most teachers on here have to keep themselves confidential due to the pettiness of their abusers. When there is an instance that somone is being mistreated and a way to ease the suffering is to vent.. then VENT! everyone has the right to. i really hope all the teachers get justice for their abuse. I feel that reading your stories and being able to add into the conversations open our eyes to this kind of stuff.

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  25. EM says:

    It makes me sick how many of us say we are not looking forward to the new school year for fear of the continuation of the bullying. I was bullied by another teacher too. I thought it was a set up, and I was right. Even after I got out of the school, it still continues. The Principals and administrators have their own agendas, and they let each other know who the “troublemakers” are. Let me also say that not ALL of them are bad, but the bad ones are so bad. I thnk they get away with it because we are all in fear, and because no one wants to hear our sad stories, be associated with us, or “be negative”. Survival of the fittest. I have been told many times, “just do your job right, smile, keep your mouth shut and go home at 3:00″. I have STILL not figured out how to do that, AND get all required work done. The problem is also that people who “refuse” to play the game, get picked on. It is difficult to prove that someone is a bully. Just like doctors won’t testify against each other in a malpractice case, good luck finding someone who WILL stick up for the victim.

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  26. Jonathan K. says:

    I agree with you EM! Education is one big conspiracy and when the “bad guys” are in charge- good luck trying to prove it! You’re right “No one wants to hear it! That is until now. Now is the time to come forward and tell your story. If enough of us speak, they will listen! Remember, we’re not complainers- don’t get caught up believing that, what we are is hard working Americans who have been treated unfairly. We’re ethical people. We’re compassionate people. We’re intelligent people. We have rights and those rights have been violated! Speak up & be counted!!!

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  27. Kim Werner says:

    EM-

    Did you contact NEA as you had indicated? Did you receive a response? Surely NEA leadership is already reading this. I think the importance of our communications here about workplace bullying by principals primarity, but also by others, is put in perspective when we see how many comments we have. We have close to 400 comments. The next most popular, which incidently is also indirectly about bullying (One Teacher’s Road to Vindication) has 25 comments.

    Surely NEA is already all over this one!

    Kim

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  28. Sherrill Gilbert says:

    As a para-educator I have experienced this sometimes in the classroom, I have seen it in the corridors, in the lunch room or on the play ground. I am not alone, others have shared their stories. The problem is found in most schools and even colleges, it is found in workplaces, it is found in healthcare and in public services. The solutions are as varied as the problems and the circumstances surrounding the individuals involved. Denial fuels the problems, it is simplier to just ignore what is happening or to scape goat another individual for the problems. Until we are able to be heard, to have an open and honest discussion, to feel safe to take the fear of retaliation will this culture change. The one thing we need to do is work together to a resolution that will promote education where everyone feels they are in a safe and protected environment.

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  29. EM says:

    Dear Kim, I emailed them the link to this and asked them if they were reading these “blogs”. They did not reply. I do not know if I sent it to the right department. I just know I keep going to this and reading what everyone else is saying, and that it is a good feeling to know that I/WE are not the only ones
    . I went to your website, I thought I emailed you. Maybe you didn’t get it. I will try again, if you promise not to put my email address in this blog, because I too am afraid I will get in MORE trouble if anybody tries to figure out who I am. Doesn’t that SUCK?

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  30. MK says:

    I do think the NEA is reading our comments and following this. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’ve noticed that when a comment says something negative about the NEA and their inaction or lack of support, that comment gets a “dislike”. Hmmmmm…

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  31. Kim Werner says:

    EM-

    I absolutely promise to keep everything confidential. I have had others contact me with ideas….and with a simple need to be heard more privately. I appreciate their confidence in me.

    Thanks for being proactive for all of us.

    Kim

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  32. BEK says:

    I, too, was not helped by the NEA, but rather the bullies were protected, because two of the bullies were NEA members.

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  33. Marcia A. McBeth says:

    I am been a victim of this type of bullying for two years. I went to different situations no classroom management, incompetent and unable to write lesson plans.I was given u- ratings which I filed against the negative documents. I took one professional development workshop on negotiations. My ability to handle stressful situations with the bullies change , I did not get annoyed as much. I document everything and keep notes on my students/parents. I am a good teacher and will always keep this type of attitude. I am there to help children with special supports. If you are not trained to work with this population how can judge others who have the experience.

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  34. help says:

    HELP.. what does it take to really help the victims?

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  35. Pam says:

    First of all, I want to sincerely thank you for this blog. I am a teacher who has been bullied for the past 7 years. My daughter is in HR, so she told me to document everything, and I did! I contacted the union rep. and he kept tabs on all of the harassment. The emails became a great paper trail. I have been teaching for 28 years in one school district. The first 25 were at a neighborhood school near my home. I was respected by my colleagues and would be called upon to mentor other new teachers. But we got a new “wet behind the ears” principal who was about 30 years old. He had taught for 3 years before becoming a principal. He wanted to be the “Happy Clown”in the front office to make parents happy. If a student “created a story” about me, the principal immediately took the side of the student and the parent.
    This principal was intimidated by me. Teachers came to me if they had questions about curriculum. I was a threat to his leadership. I kept smiling every day and giving the students in my classroom the best education I could possibly give them. I also graded “honestly” which the principal didn’t like because parents would complain about their child receiving a low grade. After all, it would hurt their self-esteem! The principal even called me on a Sunday afternoon telling me to change a grade on the report card for one of my students. The mom of this student was running for City Council and the principal didn’t want her to be upset with him. I changed the grade, but kept detailed notes on everything that happened. The principal had extremely poor management skills with adults. With a staff of over 35 teachers, most had taught in the building a minimum of 10 years, and 90% had Master’s Degrees plus the additional credits to be at the top of the salary scale. The school budgets were tight and he felt that he could harass me enough to get me to quit. I couldn’t quit because I am in my early 50′s and had planned to teach for at least another 6 years. I had tenure, so I thought they couldn’t ever fire me unless I had done something horrific. Since I hadn’t done anything wrong, I wondered what they thought they could accuse me of doing. They never could give me an answer when I asked.
    The harassment, name calling, pulling kids out of the room, interrupting classes, etc, etc. continued. The union said I hadn’t done anything to warrant this behavior from a principal, so they didn’t do anything other than monitor the situation.
    It got so bad that my health began to suffer. Depression, anxiety, weight gain, etc. all made it so difficult to go to work every day. I began seeing a therapist on a weekly basis and also a psychiatrist for medication. The harassment got worse, and more unbearable as the years went on. The union was told by administration, “We can do whatever we want to her!” The union rep. said what they were doing was illegal and warned them that I had documented everything to a “T”.
    What they were doing WAS illegal, so we took out our entire life’s savings and took out 2 loans (over $150,000.00) to pay this lawyer. In fact I had both lawyers on the legal team working on my case. I had submitted over 3000 pages of documentation to the lawyer. He said I had a case and we sued the school district on 7 violations; age discrimination, disability discrimination (I wear hearing aids), harassment, defamation of character, liable, retaliation after I reported the harassment the first time, and then retaliation after we hired an attorney on our own. We settled in mediation and got a $20,000.00 settlement. I thought the problem was over, but it wasn’t. I moved to a different school and the new principal continued the harassment. The same tactics were used to humiliate me at this school. Administrators must all go by the same book, because it sounds like I experienced the same as many of the others on this blog. NOW, after 7 years, the union finally realized there was a real problem, and they hired the NEA union lawyer to help me. She was able to work out an early retirement plan, (which is already available to teachers), but the district continued to battle and put me on the school board agenda to be dismissed at the end of the school year. All of this was so humiliating. I have been treated for anxiety, depression and PTSD. The school district ruined my career, because they believed what the “Clown in the Front Office” told them. I was a victim and still feel like one. I am dealing with a great deal of fear and do not go out of the house at all, unless to a doctor’s appointment. This whole situation has had a tremendous negative affect on our family and extended family. I am glad I have a very smart husband who helped me through the legal process and family and friends who prayed for me every day. I am glad this article came out in the NEA because it is about time they stand up to those dictators (principals, superintendents, school boards) and tell them how many lives they have ruined. Principals are suppose to be instructional leaders, not micro-managers. Many have limited teaching experience, and obviously don’t know how to manage a school effectively. Please, I pray with all my heart that this issue goes “VIRAL” so parents know what is going on and principals get a heads up for what is coming to them. I will stand with every one of you who has written in this blog and support the change that is needed in our schools. And, thanks to all of you who so openly shared your stories. One of the people I worked with while this was going on is Karen Horowitz who wrote the book, “White Collar Chalk Crime”. She has also put out another book recently about more cases just like the ones mentioned in this blog. Please contact her at her website, NAPTA “National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse” and share your story with her. She collects this information and includes it in her books. Every NEA member should have a copy of this book. NEA needs to admit that the problem exists “at the top” and they shouldn’t be so worried about being bedfellows with the school board in order for negotiations/contracts to go smoothly. If this problem of principals harassing teachers doesn’t stop, what college student will ever want to go into the field of teaching? Thank you to everyone who shared on this blog. It makes me feel better knowing I am not the only one who has experienced this horror. Now, I hope more teachers will come out of the woodwork and share their stories. Let’s work together to make this illegal harassment STOP!!!!

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  36. Jonathan K. says:

    AMEN! (is that politically correct?)

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  37. Kim Werner says:

    I second that AMEN! I think there is a collective AMEN! happening here. I want us to get organized. I will spread the word in Florida. I am going to alert the Florida Association of School Administrators (!) to this site. Yes! I was selected by that organization in 2009 (oh, I know you all will love the irony here….!) to begin the Florida Bullying Prevention Initiative.

    Hey-I am going to the source….

    Kim

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  38. Kim Werner says:

    Fellow Targets,

    I just sent the following letter to the Florida Association of School Administrators.

    Stay strong-

    Kim

    Good Morning! I was selected by FASA in 2009 as one of ten consultants trained to begin the Florida Bullying Prevention Initiative. Thank you. I have come to know however, through training and through experience that we will never truly keep children safe from bullying if we, schools’ employees, are not safe from the same. I invite you to check out my website, http://www.apiecefullworld.com, and the following NEA link:

    http://neatoday.org/2012/05/16/bullying-of-teachers-pervasive-in-many-schools/comment-page-8/#comment-3720

    This story and its almost 400 comments about teachers’ being bullied is a must read for you. I urge you to address the issue of administrators’ abuse of power and bullying. There is, and I write this with conviction, no way we will keep the children in Florida safe from bullying when there is an epidemic of administrators’ bullying us.

    Please read the NEA participants’ comments.

    Thank you,

    Kim Werner
    kimwerner@apiecefullworld.com

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  39. Kim Werner says:

    Fellow Targets:

    Another of my comments is “awaiting moderation….” I sincerely do not know why….and I am troubled by that. Still. I want you to see it. So, I have posted it on my website as a blog post.

    I invite you to check it out.

    http://www.apiecefullworld.com/id66.html

    Kim

    Kim

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  40. Jonathan K. says:

    Sometimes those in high positions of power forget that the laws of the United States take precedent over laws of institutions and private industry-

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Even the government has to abide by its own laws!

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  41. Jacquie Ponsford says:

    I retired early because of a bullying superintendent who used to be my principal. I can relate to the main article. I had to make a choice between knowing that I was right or my mental and physical health. I did manage to get a settlement when I resigned. I have had 2 previous principals who used bullying to “motivate” me to move on. In one building 19 teachers either resigned, retired or changed districts within 5 years under a principal who was hired as a “house cleaner”. This was a staff of 22 people. It was interesting to note that of those 19 who left only one was under the age of 40. My exit caused people within the community to begin to question what was really happening in one school of a very small rural school district. I hope this bill goes through so other good teachers do not have to suffer the ramifications of principals like I have experienced.M

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  42. Kim Werner says:

    Fellow targets-

    I have heard from some of you about your desire–and fear–of contacting your states’ associations of school administrators and alerting them to this discussion. I will contact them if you would like. Simply send the email addresses (or links) to me at kimwerner@apiecefullworld.com.

    We are in this together.

    Kim

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  43. Kim Werner says:

    Fellow Targets-

    You will love the newest link I have up on http://www.apiecefullworld.com: NEA’s Workplace Bullying Prevention training! Yes! The link is right at the top of the page (I’d put it here, but it seems when I put links here, my comments are moderated). The Power Point is from 2011. Check it out!

    Kim

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  44. Jonathan K. says:

    One of the most difficult things to do was partake in the school’s grievance process. It takes place at the school and is monitored by the very people you have the grievance with. How odd it was to sit in the Superintendent’s office with his Lawyer and attempt to explain your grievance through a regional union rep. During the first hearing my regional union rep put on a good show. He really appeared to be fighting for me. He had told me that the Lawyer for the school was the son of the prior Lawyer for the school and that he had had a very food relationship with the elder Lawyer and that his relationship with the son was equally as good. Prior to the hearing I had spent a lot of time discussing with him why I thought the “ultimatum” presented to me was “extortion”. He brought it up during the hearing and used the term “extortion”. The Lawyer for the Superintendent said it was just a “bad deal” and not extortion. That was when I intervened and explained “white collar extortion”. The Lawyer went on an said that the “ultimatum” did not come from the Superintendent, that it had come from him. From there he said it went to my regional union rep (sitting beside me) where it went to the two teachers association reps who explained it to me in the school’s library while one of my co-teachers (bullies) watched my theory class. While he was explaining all this the Superintendent was sitting in his reclining office chair behind his desk leaning back with a big grin on his face… The Lawyer went on and said that the Superintendent had nothing to do with it and the Superintendent, with an even wider grin said he knew nothing about it. Then the Lawyer went on and said if anybody was guilty of anything that my regional rep and the two teachers association reps were willing accomplishes- After that hearing I felt that my regional rep had defended me admirably, but whenever I brought up the “extortion” he attempted to shoot me down immediately. It became obvious that he was afraid if it was proven to be “extortion” he would be part of it. It was at that point that he began to take a completely different stance and not one that was in my best interest. When I went to his office he actually threatened me saying if I hired a Lawyer he’d “eat him for lunch!” I thought that was pretty unusual that HE had picked sides. After a brief pause he repeated it “I eat Lawyers for lunch!” There was perspiration on his upper lip and his body was trembling, especially his hands, while he spoke. I paused and in that moment I realized he was no longer representing me. I said “Then you’re gonna have yourself a big lunch!” That was it. After several last minute bogus cancellation notices that were made a day before scheduled and approved grievance hearings, I had officially exhausted the grievance process. I called my Lawyer he began representing me-

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  45. Help Us Help Ourselves says:

    These articles have been very enlightening to me. I feel like I have been in an abusive family with a fear instilled in me to never let others know what I deal with on a regular basis from my abusers, for fear of worse punishment. I know from taking classes in counseling others that the first step in dealing with abusive situations is to recognize it. What teachers have been suffering through is abusive treatment. In this economy, we all have to worry about job security. Administrators are well aware of this, and have taken full advantage of it. Like other types of victims of abuse, teachers are blamed for causing administrators to abuse them. If someone is brave enough to speak up, they shoot the messenger.

    A teacher is at the mercy of the abuser because the abuser has the power to destroy them. The truth about how good a teacher is determined by the abuser. False statements could terminate a teacher’s current position. These false statements are shared with other administrators that don’t want to hire someone else’s reject, or jeopardize their relationships with other administrators. It’s a sick and dysfunctional system of abuse. Do we really want teachers who are afraid to speak an opinion teaching our students? That is the end result.

    I have a 4.0 GPA for my master’s in education. I have spent countless hours researching and creating the best lesson plans for my students, and buying the needed materials for these lessons. I am always looking for ways to reach students, and improve on what I do. I’m far from alone in doing this; there are so many teachers who just want to teach the students. My biggest problem in teaching has been bullies. I love what I do and take pride in my students’ accomplishments. I have a pit in my stomach because I know that I am always a step away from some petty people in my building trying to cause trouble, in any form for me. Unfortunately, I have had to spend too much time avoiding trouble with people that could ruin my career for no good reason. Good administrators shouldn’t allow this type of environment in their schools. Positive energy is being drained from good teachers, which results in less positive energy a teacher has for her students. If petty people spent more time and effort into educating their students instead of finding ways to destroy other teachers, wouldn’t all teachers and students benefit from this? Administrators have a responsibility to create a positive and healthy environment. The abused teachers aren’t the problems; they are a symptom of a much deeper problem.

    As educators, I think we have a responsibility to educate people about this problem and create a plan to address it. As a parent, I don’t want my children to be in this type of environment. I want them to learn to speak out against injustices, and be able to focus on learning in a positive environment. As a taxpayer, I am outraged that this goes on in our schools. As a teacher, I feel sick seeing good teachers demoralized and good reputations destroyed as they’re being used as scapegoats for problems in the schools. This column has clearly demonstrated that this is a very serious problem. The first step we need to take is to shed light on this problem. I urge each of the educators concerned about this issue to share it with at least one other person and to put it in the public eye. We need help from outside this abusive system if we really want to change the systematic problems.

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  46. THE ball is in our Unions Court. With so many stories, just maybe our well paid Union leaders will do something at a national level. Doubt it. Please prove me wrong. The only action I’ve ever witnessed is that of the individual standing up against such insecure paper pushers we are forced to call school leaders.

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  47. EM says:

    Today’s blog will be titled…52 shades of extortion. I just ralized that bullying is like those porno books – Shades of Grey. I did not read them. Crappy writing, I’m told. Bullying does come in shades of grey, and MUCH of it happens in the “grey areas”. It is often “up for interpretation”. “What really happened vs. she/he just misinterpreted what I said because she/he has a bad attitude.”
    Jonathan K – I am not sure I get it about the “regional rep” who says he eats lawyers for lunch. It was not really intended as a joke, I know… but he is supposed to be out on your side, but then threatened you when you questioned him ot talked about extortion? As in telling you not to hire a lawyer or he would work against you? That is CHILLING… but I get chills all the time, more and more as I return to this discussion.

    I don’t even want to get started on what I think about lawyers. $400.00 an hour to do what? Figure out ways to extort money legally? 52 shades of extortion. I should have gone to law school. However, I would have been a good one, honest! I would not clean out the bank accounts and retirement funds of teachers who are fighting for their lives and by extension, the future of our students and our country. I thought that was why we who are reading and writing this blog are all Union members. (Except for the administrators who may be reading this now that Kim sent the link to them). Speaking of that, I hope the adminsitrators who may read this don’t try to figure out a way to use this against us. Enter the FEAR FACTOR.

    Speaking of the lunch menu… I went to the book store yesterday. In the diet section, there are several books (at least one) written by teachers about how BAD school lunch is. Where I work, some schools have healthy choices, but also all the junk. From now on, I am going to bring my lunch everyday. I say this every year, but this year I really mean it. I always get so P.O.’ed when they give teachers the exact same amount of food they give the 6 year old kids who get free lunch, or pay much less than we do. I don’t know about you, but I just take it, and walk away. I am not about to say, “can I have another scoop of that divine looking ravioli with mystery meat and imitation cheese food like product, which I am paying full price for”? Too embarrassing…. So as long as I am sharing embarrassing things about the cefeteria… I do not like it when they make the teachers stand there and wait while they serve all the kids. Some do it and some don’t. One reason I hate it is I hate watching the behavior of the kids in line, which is not monitored. Then I hate the way the cafeteria people treat them. I feel it is all disrespectful to the teachers and the kids. Tht’s right, another lighter shade of bullying.
    Here;s another shade of grey on Teacher bullying. Since today is Sunday, can I get away with saying that some of the biggest bullies are also the biggest, high ranking Church goers and promoters? Lets’ talk about prayer in schools… Start with praying at faculty meetings. I think it is wrong that some of us who do want to get together and pray have to do it on our own time, while a principal can just ask someone to stand and pray at a faculty meeting, or say God sent them to clean up the school at a faculty meeting. Here’s another one… having their Church members going to their school retirement parties as unpaying, “special guests”. I know of several who have done this. VERY recently… Is this right? Is it ethical? Should the teachers have to pay MORE for their tickets to attend the retiring principal’s party, so they can let their friends and family go as unpaid “guests”? Does this count as bullying? If you say something, it’s seen as a “complaint”, and who has the nerve to complain about spending a “few extra dollars” for the Reverend, the family and the choir? Sorry if I offended anyone about the religion issues. Let’s not go all Chick fil a , ok?

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  49. Jonathan K. says:

    I think we need a legal fund. A way to raise money to pay for lawyers to represent us nationwide. Unless we can find several law firms willing to take our cases Pro-Bono?

    “Pro Bono Publico” is Latin for “for the public good.” The American Bar Association sets an ethical requirement that lawyers in the United States complete up to 50 hours of pro bono service each year.

    We should be able to find legal firms that will be willing help out education in America while at the same time satisfying their Pro Bono requirements.

    We have to put a call out– I’m thinking a large firm that is willing to work nationwide. I am committed to putting and end to the Bullying of teachers am maybe teaching again sometime soon. Who else is in?

    “Never give up the fight!” – J.K.

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  50. montgomery county maryland abuse victim says:

    I just read through the NEA’s Workplace Bullying Prevention Power Point. Who was trained using this power point? Surely not Doug Prouty or any MCEA officials in Montgomery County. In Montgomery County, our union uses the collaborative method with administration which they are very proud of. Basically, the union and administrators collaborate for their OWN well being. Their collaboration has not had a positive outcome for teachers or students.
    NEA has done nothing to help teachers who have been bullied in this county. They just say, “well, he’s the principal and he can do that” or “if you try and fight this, you’ll never win; no teacher has ever won in this process”. Our former Superintendent Weast, a very well-known bully, started the collaborative process with our union, and then, he left the county a year ago after his 12 year reign of terror. Our expensive union dues?? I think our dues just pay for the very expensive apple ballots that are sent out at election time and whatever else suits union officials. And the teachers?? As I’ve heard many, many say, teachers are left to suffer with the infection left by Weast that still permeates our county. Teachers are quite upset in this county and feel that they are not being represented. What is NEA going to do to help their members? Why are we paying dues to a union that is aware of all of the bullying and still does nothing about it?
    Quite honestly, I am fearful that my email information will be turned over to our county union so that more bullying will occur. Even though I am fearful, as most are, I’m going to continue to speak against what is happening. I can think of no person that deserves to be bullied.
    How can NEA allow what is going on here? NEA, please do something to help your members. We are simply asking you to do your job.

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