Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Making of an Administrator

I was once in an assembly, and there were a couple of kids acting out and causing distractions for the students trying to listen. I asked them a few times to cut it out, and they ignored me. So I called the dean and had them removed. Fifteen minutes later they were back again. The then-principal was sitting near them and complaining about their behavior. He didn't choose to intervene, but rather gave them a few looks, which they ignored.

I went to the dean's office a little bit later. I found the dean who removed them. I asked her why she sent them back. She said she had given them a stern talking-to, or something. I told whatever she had done did not work, and that she had just taught those kids that there was no consequence for their actions. I told her if I'd wanted those kids to stay in the auditorium I would not have had them removed. I told her she'd undermined my authority and I didn't much appreciate it. She didn't have much to say in reply.

I didn't have any dealings with her for a while, as she was in a different department, and I almost never call deans for any reason. For my regular students, I generally figure there's not much deans can do that I can't, and if someone's gonna call mommy and daddy it might as well be me. The next time I saw her, I had just been elected chapter leader.

One of the first things I did when I became chapter leader was assemble an email list. I sorted it by department so I could send emails to the English teachers, or the social studies teachers, or whoever. It was really hard work collecting and recording all these addresses, so I asked people on my committee for help. One person immediately gave me all the non-DOE emails of a very large department, and I was pretty happy to have that.

When I sent out my first staff email, the amazing dean approached me with a pretty serious complaint.

"I feel like I've been raped," she said.

I was pretty shocked. I asked her what happened.

"I never gave you my email, and you sent an email to my private address."

"Oh my gosh I'm so sorry," I said. "Ms. Z. gave me your email. I'll take you off the list right away."

"No, that's okay," she said. "You can leave me on the list."

So what is this? You raped me, it's horrible, but feel free to do it again? I left her on the list. Of course I removed her when she became assistant principal, which happened almost instantly afterward.

The very first grievance I received was against her. She'd failed to give a teacher any classes requested. I met with her. She said there was no way that she could arrange the schedule to make that happen. She showed me classes arranged in a Delaney book. I looked at them for thirty seconds, and said, "Why don't you swap this class for that class?" I had solved the problem. I was a genius.

"Well," she said. "It's not good for the kids to change the teachers this late in the semester."

We were weeks, at most, into the semester. It was ridiculous. For some reason the teacher withdrew the grievance. It came up at another meeting, though. I don't remember why.

"Well, Mr. Goldstein never suggested a solution to that problem."

So there she was, lying to my face. I said something along those lines. Later, she confronted me in the hall about this, or maybe something else. I responded in kind.

A few days later, she called me into her office, closed the door, and started screaming at me. How dare I talk to her like that? I opened the door and walked out while she was still screaming.

I spent years fielding complaints about her from all sorts of people. Evidently she treated many others the same way she treated me. A lot of people seem not to like that. Now she works somewhere else, so my life is just a little easier. Of course I get complaints from the chapter leader at the new school, who blames me for sending her over there.

But it's a small price to pay.  Until she becomes superintendent, of course, when all of us will pay.
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