Intimidation and Bullying Claims by Conestoga High School teacher – Official Complaint Filed with US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

This week in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, school board director Michael Rock resigned abruptly, citing bullying and intimidation in the school district.  According to an article in the Daily Local, Rock claims that the UCFSD “board is doing little to encourage diversity, and to discourage bullying and intimidation.”  He stated, “I cannot and will not serve on a board that does not have the common decency to comfort our minority parents in these trying times, especially since it is so easy and simple to do … There are times when it is important to stand up to racism and bigotry, even the quiet and unspoken kind that we are experiencing here, and say no.”

During the recent Conestoga football hazing scandal, some of us in the public learned for the first time about ‘No Gay Thursday’.  Although it does not appear that ‘No Gay Thursday’ actually targeted gays in the athletic department, it certainly would not make you feel welcomed or accepted if you were a member of the school district’s gay community.

The struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) not only affects students in our schools but that teachers can also find themselves bullied and intimidated. Some teachers fear their sexual orientation could color how staff and administration view their performance, skew their evaluations, or otherwise influence whether you stay hired or not.

I was contacted by the family of a Conestoga High School teacher wh, sadly reports their son has endured harassment and intimidation by District administrators.

According to the parent, certain administrators have singled out the teacher (who is not tenured) for extensive classroom observations.  I was told that teachers procedurally receive 4 classroom observations per school year but that their son has received 5-7 classroom visits per semester by various administrators.  The District’s mid-year review of this teacher in January 2016 indicated a ‘need for improvement’ rating but the final year-end report five months later, in June 2016, provided a ‘proficient’ rating for the teacher.

The intense classroom observations of this teacher continued during the fall of 2016 and shortly before winter break, the teacher was verbally told (by a District administrator) that he was in risk of receiving another ‘need for improvement’ rating in the mid-year evaluation to be held in January 2017. The administrator strongly suggested that the teacher resign in advance of the January review. This is a critical point – I was told by the parent of the teacher, that if a TESD teacher receives 2 ‘need for improvement’ performance reviews during their employment in the District, it is grounds for dismissal. The teacher was given 48 hours to respond to the District’s verbal offer to resign.  The offer to resign was later declined on advice from the teachers union.

Why were certain administrators using intimidation and bullying tactics to force this teacher out of the District? What was the provocation for the intensive classroom observations? Were there complaints from students, parents and/or other faculty members regarding this teacher and/or his performance?  Had students in this teacher’s class received low test scores?  This didn’t make sense to me.

We all know that there are at least two sides to every story and admittedly, in this case I only have the family’s side.  When I questioned the parent, I was told that there were no complaints from students or parents and that that the teacher was well-liked and respected by his peers at the high school. The teacher had provided additional student tutoring and in fact, had many grateful parents (and students) as a result of his efforts.   And further, the end-of-the-year 2016 test scores were high for the students of this teacher, one of the indicators of a successful teaching experience.  So what was motivating certain individuals to have this teacher removed from the District?

The teacher – himself a Conestoga High School graduate – happens to be gay.  His parents believe that certain administrators are targeting their son because of his sexual orientation. The teachers union, Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the union representatives within the District are fully supporting the teacher (as are other teachers and staff).  According to the family, if the District terminates the teacher, PSEA is prepared to take the case to arbitration.

The teacher filed an official complaint this week with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for harassment and intimidation whereby they are trying to force him to resign or fire him for incompetence.  The EEOC thinks anti-gay discrimination in the workplace is sex discrimination.  In 2015, the EEOC concluded that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids sexual orientation discrimination on the job because it’s a form “sex” discrimination, which is explicitly forbidden.

I want to believe that in 2017, that the TE School District would not discriminate against a teacher because of his or her’s sexual orientation.  Falling on the heels of the football hazing scandal and the criminal investigation, the District really does not need the negative publicity that will come with an EEOC anti-gay discrimination case of a TESD teacher.

Three attorneys – Ed Sweeney, Kevin Buraks and Todd Kantorczyk – are current members of the TE School Board.  Although a personnel matter and therefore confidential, I would hope that they (and other members of the school board) take the time to fully investigate and make certain that all District policies and procedures were correctly followed in this matter. No employee of our school district should ever feel intimidation and bullying to such a level as to require intervention from the EEOC.

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Note:  I questioned why the parent contacted instead of the teacher himself.  I was told that although the teacher was aware that his parent had contacted me, that contractually he could not.  By request, the names of the teacher, administrators and PSEA representatives in the District are not included.

55 Comments

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  1. This teacher has guts that I didn’t have. I was embarrassed about how I was treated by TE. They certainly forced me out. It’s a sad state of affairs when good teachers are made to question their validity and worth. This has been going on for years and everyone knows it. I still won’t comment with my name – I’m sure none of the staff would either. They don’t want to be on the list. I encourage readers to understand that the intimidation is real. It is fierce. It is cruel. It is calculated. Responding anonymously in this case is about saving your self worth, the headache, and the embarrassment.

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  2. This is so sad to read. A non-tenured teacher given 48 hours on a verbal offer to resign? Admins “strongly suggesting” he resign before January review? Definitely sounds like the admins were calculating his exit far before he knew it. Sad, but this happens every day.

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  3. Absent a copy of the legal complaint, I’m afraid this post falls under the newly minted term of Fake News. I would hope that your statement about seeing the lawyers on the board are vigilant is simply blogspeak. No board member regardless of their “education” has any right to do any “investigating.” Board members have no place in that discussion except in the context of the Personnel Committee in executive session. I certainly cannot speak for individuals, and would not presume to, so only the individual can speak for him/herself. But I know that I would not jump through hoops to satisfy someone whose parents wrote to a local blog. And Anon above — are you a grown up or not? As long as you want to keep yourself hidden, you only compound the problems. WHAT EMBARRASSMENT would you fear — unless you have taken shame onto yourself, in which case, being forced out was likely in response to your own fears. THis closeted behavior is exactly why kids do not trust the adult world to deal with things. The person that most gay kids fear the most is their own same gender parent — that they will disappoint them. So any employee/adult that cannot address this openly and honestly does not help anyone’s cause. Out the Administrator you feel is bullying you. With INFORMATION. Your parents certainly cannot be the source of information on how successful you are and who likes you. Stand up proud. Companies have Coming Out Lunches as a routine part of their HR programs….because the more people know that you are gay, the less mysterious that “secret” is. And for the homophobes in our world, the more you learn about who is gay, the sooner you will understand it is not a mystery at all. This teacher could go to the LGBT Student group and help — or get some. But I apologize Pattye — this post is not worthy of your blog. HOW is it different from what Hogan did to start that problem?

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  4. This really is such a heart-wrenching thing to bring to light. The truth of the matter is that this practice of strong-arming and bullying employees and staff members of the district is a long-standing practice of T/E administrators. Being a current employee of the district, these rumors are passed around behind closed doors in hushed conversations. Everyone talks about “that teacher from a few years ago” who was here one day and gone the next. Teachers who are highly regarded by their peers, students and parents are simply pushed out the back door and their names are quickly forgotten. Sadly, the real reason that this happens is because they speak their mind or stand up for what they believe is right. If you’re not a “YES” person, the administrators will fabricate a target, place it squarely on your back, and then have all of the other administrators coincidentally agree upon the same [fabricated] reason(s) as to why you’re inadequate. Ultimately, it ends in great educators resigning, never to be heard of again. This practice has kept many employees, including myself, from speaking out or even posting my name on a blog response. This atmosphere of hostility and intimidation is the complete opposite of what we stand for as educators, and it’s about time that someone stands up to this corrupt administration. It’s time to shed light on their unethical, demoralizing, and quite frankly shameful behavior.

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    agreed Reply:

    There isn’t ONE employee in our school district who doesn’t know at least one person that this has happened to in the recent past. I give the teacher here a huge amount of credit for not just fighting for what is right for his own sake, but also for the sake of all current and future employees. He sees the bigger picture here and doesn’t want anyone to ever go through the ordeal he has been dealing with. He is the FIRST and ONLY teacher that has EVER called out the administration for their abhorrent behavior. And for that alone, we are all grateful for his efforts.

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  5. So just because it was his/her parents that wrote to Pattye, that invalidates the facts presented? Personally, I like facts, regardless of where they came from – parents, friends, co-workers, spies, whatever. Looking at the qualitative data presented here alone, 4 times a year vs. 5-7 times a semester is statistically significant. Something is going on here. Something that looks an awful lot like intimidation. I can tell you, being observed that often at my job would put me on edge for sure.

    And your commentary on gay people and their parents, and being gay in the workplace is almost too glib to put into words. Personally, I’d like to be known in the workplace for my merit, not my attendance at a Coming Out Lunch.

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    Thanks For Playing Reply:

    *quantitative

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  6. In TE, much attention is paid to SAT scores and school ranking, perhaps we should consider the short and long-term effects of serving in education on teachers, and how we can make it a better experience for everyone involved. Good luck to this teacher for standing up.

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  7. I can’t even fathom that all of this is happening in our school system! Hazing charges, “No-Gay Thursdays” and now a federal discrimination complaint filed by an employee. How can all of these things happen under the ‘reign’ of the same, seemingly incompetent principal? This Amy Meisinger needs to go! #DrainTheSwamp

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  8. “Whatever federal education authorities do to strengthen LGBT protections (as the Obama administration has done), rights advocates say that the future of LGBT youth rights will depend on how local communities proactively work to foster a more inclusive school culture. According to Human Rights Watch’s report on LGBT youth struggles in five states (Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and South Dakota). Currently 31 states “lack any specific, enumerated laws protecting against bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” effectively leaving it either to federal authorities or to individual schools to establish protections for LGBT youth. Kevin I, a 17 year-old transgender boy in Utah, was stunned to see his school staff aligning with his tormentors. Teachers could take the lead in helping charter pro-LGBT student groups, promote comprehensive sexuality-education programs, or post “safe space” signs in school to encourage a culture of inclusiveness and to promote community dialogue. “

    It’s fact that PA falls behind on promoting high schools as an LGBT safe spot for both students and teachers. Do we know of any LGBT signage or orgs within Stoga?

    see full article here:
    https://www.thenation.com/article/under-trump-lgbt-student-rights-could-be-in-trouble/

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  9. It is sad to know this type of behavior is and has been happening for sometime inside Conestoga. When one considers the administration were first teachers in the first instance and hopefully they became teachers to make a positive difference for the creative minds of our future. Then to hire a teacher ‘who is one of their own’ and instead of finding productive ways to make him the best teacher he can be, decide to continually intimidate him with obsessive observations for a year and a half, with the sole objective to force him out prior to gaining tenure. All simply because two key administrators feel ‘he does not have it’. Sounds like they need ‘an improvement plan’, especially after what happened last year with ‘No Gay Thursday’. Sarah Jones – not sure I really got your point. Was it ‘Fake News’? Scolding a previous TE teacher because you thought they were gay and afraid to come out? Could it have been they were straight and simply could not contend with the intimidation and bullying? Your comments sound to me a bit like a bully. I too commend this teacher for believing in and standing up for what is right and just – really what does he have to lose – his job or career as a passionate teacher? Sounds like this administration has already predetermined his destiny.

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  10. Pattye, if you were to do an exposé on this administration with confidential teacher testimony, I think it would make for a great read. From the comments here, it sounds like there would be more than ample material and interest. From their private investigation into that one student to this to (it sounds like) just overall teacher fear and intimidation, the CHS administration sounds pretty awful. Betsy DeVos may find it an interesting read as well. If you ask me, this would have never happened in Donovan’s day when my kids were in school at CHS. Grateful they are long-since graduated.

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    current CHS teacher Reply:

    As a current CHS teacher who was also here during Donovan’s reign, I can say that you are absolutely spot on correct. Donovan was a partner in the education process. He was someone that students and staff both looked up to with great respect. Students today don’t even know who the principal is! The rare hallway sightings are met with comments from the kids like, “Who is that woman?” “Does she work here?”. The calculated distance of all today’s administrators is beyond sad. I’ve personally watched the principal during one of my own observations sit in the back of the classroom while the kids are doing a group activity. Although she was a foot from so much engaged learning, she remained seated, typing away on her laptop, completely removing herself from any interaction and discourse with the kids. As a teacher it was so sad to see the blatant message she was sending to my students….a message of “my work right now is way more important than interacting with you, I’m not even interested in having you tell me what you are learning”. During the same activity based observation with Donovan, he would go from group to group and ask numerous questions of each and every student. He truly enjoyed the kids and his interaction was always visible. THOSE students certainly knew who he was when he walked down the hall. And I’ll add here that it’s not just today’s principal who shows this blatant distance and disinterest in the kids. Every administrator that has come into my classroom since Donovan’s departure has acted with the same m.o. I truly believe that once you distance yourself from the kids, you then distance yourself from your staff. That is exactly what has happened here.

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    Also a current Stoga teacher Reply:

    I admit, I do agree that it’s pretty sad when one of the administrators pops into your classroom to observe your lesson and they aren’t engaged with students at all, but instead are completely focused on typing away on their iPads. What’s even worse is when they are texting, emailing or even (and YES this happened in my clas) playing a game on their phone.

    Because of this, I think it’s ridiculous that they penalize teachers during their observations when they see students with their phones out. It’s the admins who have their phones glued to their hands and are completely disengaged from the lesson.

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    Sad, but honestly true Reply:

    I want to try to make this as brief as possible. Earlier this week, my daughter came home from school and I could immediately tell that something was wrong. She is a member of Conestoga’s ADL club. During their club meeting with the GSA, her felllw club members were brainstorming posters to put around the school… posters that condemned anti-LGBT sentiments. During their meeting they had a visit from one of the assistant principals, who was cautioning them on the language that they were usuing. According to my daughter, who is very open about her transgender identity (FYI), they were simply trying to bring awareness to the fact that derogatory terms like ‘queer’ and ‘gay’ and ‘faggot’ would not be tolerated at Conestoga.

    Not too much longer into the club meeting, apparently the principal herself made an appearance. Which is absolutely not the norm. She proceeded to tell the students that posters weren’t appropriate and continued to question them about what they were really accomplishing by making posters.

    Ultimately, at the end of the day, my daughter and her fellow club members were denied the right to hang posters around the school. Something that every other club seems to have the privilege of doing. I honestly didn’t think much of it at the time, but then my neighbor told me about this issue currently transpiring at the high school.

    Whether or not the principal is anti-LGBT or not, she certainly shut my daughter and her classmates down from expressing themselves freely in the school. As much as I’d hate to admit that discrimination like this happens in our schools, I’m starting to believe that there may be a bad egg amongst our school’s administration.

    As for this teacher, I cannot honestly say that he’s being treated unfairly because of his sexual orientation. What I can say though, is that my daughter was treated unfairly by the administration and there is a definite coincidence between the timing of this teacher’s case and my daughters club being thwarted from expressing themselves.

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    Super Sad Reply:

    They were actually censored…my god, this is worse than I thought. So sad.

    Kudos to you for having such an open relationship with your child so she can tell you things like this.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    This is an interesting case of student free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. The right of free speech in a school is not unlimited. Certainly the principal limited the club from “expressing themselves freely in the school” via posters hung on the walls. This is arguably the right decision. I support “posters that condemned anti-LGBT sentiments” and you may too, but there is a significant segment that does not. Think about a situation where an opposing group subsequently hangs posters around the school condemning the LGBT lifestyle. Imagine the impact to discipline and classwork.

    Susan Reply:

    That is so sad! I feel for your daughter and her friends that they had to endure that, especially when it sounds like that was probably the first interaction a lot of them have had with the principal; and it wasn’t to congratulate them on their extracurricular activities, it was to shut them down. I have to wonder if the administrators genuinely believe in what they are being forced to be a part of, or if they are just as afraid of the principal as everyone else seems to be. It troubles me that with all of the other responsibilities that must be involved in running a school, time was taken out of her schedule to do this. It’s comparatively small potatoes. Why would she let the kids leave so upset? I hate to bring up Timothy Donovan again, but I don’t believe he would ever sacrifice kids’ well-being to push his own agenda. I don’t think he even had an agenda. My children and their friends only ever felt support from him; they still smile fondly when his name comes up. It certainly sounds like there is indeed, as another commenter said, some “swamp-draining” to be done at Conestoga. Please let your daughter know that the community stands with her and her friends and would like our LGBT students, teachers, administrators and any other employees to feel safe in our schools.

    2006 Alum Reply:

    Seems to me that both your daughter’s case and this teacher’s case are not just a coincidence.
    Conestoga seems to be in the spotlight with regards to the harassment towards the gay community and to extend further, BT based off your daughter’s story.
    My heart goes out to your daughter, you, and your family – she is very brave and strong, and you must be very proud!
    Stay strong and keep fighting. Hateful people should never be tolerated and must be shown their place.
    I graduated from Conestoga in 2006 and I cannot fathom that such nonsensical and obscene actions are even happening at one of the nations most prestigious high schools. Awful and completely shameful.
    I really hope the teacher being harassed slams the admistration. This cannot go on especially around kids growing into adults!!!

  11. As Pattye says, this post represents one side of an employment dispute, and the community should fervently hope that there is, in this day and age, no basis to the claims. More than hope, actually – at stake are the lives of our -the taxpayers’ – employees and we deserve to know for sure that they are treated fairly.

    So we should expect a response from the District. The usual claim is that this is a personnel matter, and therefore not for public discussion. But here the affected employee has already made the situation public. So whom, in fact, would the District’s silence be protecting?

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  12. The family visited & notified the Department of Education / Office
    Civil Rights ( OCR ) last week in Washington DC , and updated the Dept of Education / OCR this week as well .

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  13. So, what are to make of the intense scrutiny of this gay teacher? Is he being harassed because of his gay orientation or is the administration doing exactly what they should be doing – observing and documenting the poor performance of an employee?
    .
    If the employee and the parents want to use Pattye’s forum to advance their cause and they are convinced their son is being harassed then release the observations and evaluations. Every observation and evaluation is documented and placed in the employees’s personnel folder. There is nothing that prevents an employee from publicizing anything in their personnel folder. The District can’t make the contents of an employees personnel folder public, but the employee can.
    .
    I have to agree with the sentiments of Sarah Jones above and am disappointed in the one-sided reporting. Isn’t it just as possible that administrators are doing exactly what they should be doing – ridding the district of a marginal teacher who is holding back the progress of TE’s students? (I must note that Pattye’s reporting is usually excellent and she’s allowed an occasional misstep)

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    Pattye Reply:

    As I said, there are at least two sides of every story and I only have one side, that of the teacher’s family. Let me be clear, I didn’t go looking to write this post — the family came to me. Obviously, it will remain a one-sided story because the TE administration and school board can not respond on a personnel matter. Sorry that you are “disappointed in the one-side reporting” and what your refer to as as my “misstep” — for the record, I disagree with your assessment.

    As a former school board director in Unionville-Chadds Ford School District — any comment on UCFSD board member Mike Rock’s resignation over “bullying and intimidation” in the schools. Is Mr. Rock off-base and everything is OK in your school district as reported by the UCFSD superintendent. Since you are no longer on the school board, I’d be interested in your opinion.

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    Respect Freedom of Speech Reply:

    The employee attached all formal documentation and rebuttals to the unfair observations to the EEOC complaint. Just because lip-loosed blog commentors think this should be placed in every district residents’ mailbox, the fact of the matter is that the proper authorities have all of the documentation and they’re ultimately the ones who will investigate.

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    Keith Knauss Reply:

    I agree that the EEOC is the proper agency to adjudicate this matter. However, if the employee or his representatives take action to try the case in the court of public opinion (Pattye’s blog), then the employee’s case is just rumour and innuendo without the documentation (observations and evaluations) that can easily be provided by the employee.
    .
    What motive does the employee have for not publishing the complaint and all the documentation?

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    Respect Freedom of Speech Reply:

    Pattye’s blog is bringing awareness to the fact that complaints have been charged against the district. This case will ultimately not be judged by public opinion, but rather by an arbitrator or in a court of law.

    The motive that the employee might have for not publishing his personal documents to the public may simply be because they don’t have the authority to judge him. This blog is simply raising awareness and informing the public of an ongoing investigation.

    Truth Prevails Reply:

    The employee has followed all the proper protocols and has engaged the Union for support shortly after the first mid-year review in January 2016 whereby he received the NI rating. Which by the way was only based on observations from two administrators and did not include other key criteria, such as his students test scores, etc. This is why his end of year rating was proficient, because it didn’t solely rely on subjective views. Fortunately for this Teacher, Union members have sat in with him on every post conference review taking notes on the verbal feedback. Interestingly, when the Teacher receives the written follow up, most of the time, they don’t align with the verbal responses. A number of the Union members have gone to the administration on the Teachers behalf, confirming he is performing at a higher standard than some of his peers teaching the same courses and that he truly wants to teach at Conestoga and has worked diligently to meet the Districts standard. I have worked in corporate America for over 35 years and there is always a few who believe they are untouchable and therefore use the position of power to intimidate and bully. While I personally would not have raised a red flag and gone to HR to complain, once someone else did, I stepped forward and told the truth based on my real experiences. I share this, because it is now time for the fellow Teachers of Conestoga to step forward, anonymously, and SUPPORT this teacher to stop the unfair treatment happening currently and over the past years.

    Respect Freedom of Speech Reply:

    Additionally, as a former school board member, and obviously someone who’s well-versed in Pattye’s blog, you of all people should know that public awareness of in-house conflicts is something the district tries to avoid at all costs. Every issue and scandal is silenced by the district to avoid this type of exposure.

    Respect Freedom of Speech Reply:

    *loose-lipped

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    Truth Prevails Reply:

    If the administration was actually doing their job then why are the union members who are in the same department observing him and other teachers and then going to the principal stating you’re holding this teacher to a higher standard than others. The union members are at a loss for a why administration is being so hard on him. This obsessive observations have been going on for the past year and a half.

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  14. There is one common denominator involved in all of the recent scandals at Conestoga…. Amy Meisinger. In my opinion she should be the one being forced out. The woman is VILE!

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  15. As a fellow Conestoga grad, I have to agree. I was there in the age of Donovan and you couldn’t imagine a better principal – he knew every single student’s name and was always smiling. Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with Amy and everyone governs differently, but I did see her after one of the musicals when I went to see my younger sister act. Amy was there with a sour puss on her face like she was forced to be there and didn’t even acknowledge the students’ good performance. Maybe it’s social awkwardness or something, but it was really hurtful to see her stand there with a prissy look on her face when Donovan would have gone up to the cast and congratulated them all individually with a big smile. It makes the kids feel great that the principal knows who they are and that he/she thinks they did a good job in their extracurriculars. Granted, Donovan definitely was not perfect by any stretch, but I’d rather have him than someone who is snotty to our students.

    A principal should be approachable; you hear much more as a leader about what’s really going on at your institution if people feel they can speak openly to you. Be a bulldog in private negotiations if you wish to be, but don’t put that out there into the world.

    Regardless of this latest scandal or its validity – I agree with you: attitude trickles down and if that is what Amy is putting out there, no wonder there is so much fear among, probably not only the students, but the teachers and administrators too.

    The superintendent needs to do an anonymous 360 organizational review to see what everyone really thinks of leadership at CHS. Why don’t we see vindictive private investigations, scapegoating (poor Vogan lived to coach), fear, intimidation and other organizational missteps at TEMS, VFMS, or the elementary schools? There’s a bad egg here somewhere for sure.

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    Please let us be heard Reply:

    When the reign of Dan Waters ended, we all let out a sigh of relief that the strong-arming, intimidations, and repercussions for speaking out would now be over. We were over-joyed that Rich Gusick, one of our own, was chosen to take the helm. At CHS, he was a fabulous educator and has not forgotten how much he loved teaching. As one of your current employees, I implore you, Rich, to conduct an anonymous organizational review as suggested above. Although Dan is gone, the negative tactics he empowered his administrators with still remain.
    One of the most important strategies of a successful teacher is letting your students know that their voices are being heard. Imagine working in an industry where that is a prevailing practice in your classroom, yet you, yourself, have no voice at all. You repeatedly watch your colleagues attempt to speak out only to see that they are not just silenced, but punished for having a differing opinion. I’ve seen these teachers get involuntarily moved to another building. I’ve seen these teachers taken out of their one classroom and given a schedule of teaching 5 different classes in 5 different locations. I’ve seen these teachers assigned a course load that doesn’t even include their certification area. These actions are all direct repercussions for speaking out. The collective hope by the administrators is that the day to day experience of the punished teacher is so difficult and unworkable that he or she up and resigns. Problem solved.
    I know that Rich is a regular reader of this blog. It is my sincere hope that he hears this message loud and clear and acts in a partnership with us to “right the ship”. Rich, we are looking to you to establish the professional rapport and supportive environment we’ve been waiting for since you took the lead. Please let us be heard.

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  16. What I am failing to understand is what does this individual’s sexual orientation have to do with the situation presented? There has been no clear evidence provided that he was being bullied or intimidated based upon sexual orientation. Therefore, it sounds as if his claim for discrimination based upon “sex” discrimination is null and void.

    Additionally, if there were further validity to the case, I would hope that by now more individuals would be aware of it and have spoken out already. It sounds as if there may be a larger underlying problem here and the use of sexual orientation is being exploited in an attempt to gain further publicity by pulling on the heart strings of others.

    As a self-identified LGBT community member who has previously experienced blatant discrimination in the workplace based upon my own sexual orientation/identity, I am really struggling to feel there is an actual case here (for being discriminated against based upon sexual orientation).

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  17. I have no inside information so I have no opinion on the current racism and bigotry charge by Dr. Rock except to say that I have complete confidence in the administrators and the remaining 8 school directors based on many years of experience. Dr. Rock is an interesting character. My term overlapped with his for two years. My experience with Dr. Rock was not a positive one. If you have a strong opinion on an issue and want action, your job is to engage and convince at least 4 other school directors. If I planned to raise a controversial issue at an upcoming board meeting I would give the administration and board a “heads up” so others could be prepared. The Board makes better decisions when all have the time to research the issue and be fully informed so a debate can ensue. Dr. Rock, on the other hand, “comes out unannounced from the dark with guns ablazin” in an effort to embarrass others into submission. It is his modus operandi and earned him the reputation of someone to avoid and ignore. Thus, his farewell speech is just another example of an emotional outburst from someone who didn’t get his way.

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  18. What I can’t comprehend is after the No-Gay-Thursday’s hazing news hit last year, the district stated that the football coaching staff was either removed from their positions or that they stepped down. Coincidentally they all still work for the district, just in different positions.

    I think this makes a pretty obvious statement about how the district handles anti-gay and harassment issues. Rather than removing these individuals who were ultimately in charge of supervising the children when those incidents occurred, they just swept the issue under the rug and moved people around to make it appear to the public that they actually did something. When in reality they just covered it up.

    So herein lies the real question… how does the district really feel about discriminatory acts against sexual orientation and bullying/harassment? Do they stand up and proactively make a stance against them, or do they quietly make them disappear portraying to the public that they don’t care enough, and that their image and high rankings are more important.

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  19. This post and these comments don’t surprise me. I interviewed at TESD a while back for a teaching job (and didn’t get it). What struck me was how corporatized the interview process was and how arrogantly it was handled. The HR director stares at the candidate and types on a laptop while the candidate answers vague questions, and they make candidates take personality profile tests. But what got me was that two of the questions on the personality profile explicitly ask about mental illness–depression and anxiety. I raised the issue with PDE after the interview. Just last week a friend of mine interviewed at TESD and told me that the same questions are still being asked. At a glance, it appears that TESD is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by asking candidates these questions. In any case, intimidation is present from the very start of the hiring process.

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  20. How do we know that this employee isn’t the one doing the bullying and intimidation here? To drag the district through the dirt in an effort to stay teaching there despite bad reviews.

    For what it’s worth, when I was a Stoga student way back in the stone ages of the 1980s, we had one openly gay teacher (and also a few that were not so open). He was beloved by all – students, other teachers, administrators… He taught there for a great many years after I left too – I’m 43 and he just retired a few years ago. It saddens me to see the district maligned in this way now, especially when the positive attitude portrayed by the district towards my teacher opened my eyes as a young adult when being gay was still somewhat of a stigma.

    Unless we can see what they are saying that is so unfair about this teacher, I find it just as unfair if not more so to jump to these kinds of conclusions. If it were me and I knew in my heart I was being treated unfairly, I’d release the records because they’d speak for themselves. Is the proof not in the pudding?

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    First-hand Knowledge vs. Presumptious Bystander Reply:

    I happen to know this teacher and have been very close with him since I, too, was at Stoga. I have been privy to the ups and downs of his exhausting struggle to survive at Conestoga. Despite overwhelming support and praise from his colleagues and students, he’s constantly being scrutinized and held under a microscope that no other teacher there is. Oh, and by the way, there’s documented evidence to prove this.

    Despite this emotionally damaging experience that he’s been though, he still wants to stay and work at his Alma Mater. He connects with his students in a way that others can’t because he was once in their shoes.

    Despite countless colleagues speaking out to the administration on his behalf, and being told that he “just doesn’t have IT,” he wants to stay there. He loves that school, he loves working with those children, he loves the colleagues he works with.

    Because of all of this, I KNOW he’s not the bully here. If anything he’s the type of person that can take a beating and get right back up and continue to try and be a better person.

    As for the retired teacher(s) you speak of, they were hired long ago by a completely different administration. It makes me wonder how they would be treated by this current administration. Even though the previous superintendent, who encouraged his administrators to instill fear into their teachers to get them to comply, has recently retired, his trained army of subjective and intolerant administrators remain. That legacy remains in this school and it’s up to brave people like this teacher to stand up and end it once and for all!

    At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that discrimination (no matter what the reason) happens in this school, and it needs to end.

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  21. TE is a district that prides itself on its zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment. How shameful that the same administrators are fostering an environment of fear and intimidation to force out proficient and well-respected teachers. Imagine the emotional duress this employee is experiencing right now. For no discernible reason other than his (private!) sexual orientation, he has found his professional and personal life under a microscope, made to feel like he’s done something wrong. Gaslighting at its finest. It is incredibly brave of him to stand up to the district–he might be the first employee to do so.

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  22. I am utterly speechless! This is how this district treats one of their own graduates! What kind of message is that sending to their current students?!

    “Oh, we’ll give you a chance, but if you’re not measuring up to our ‘standard’ (for whatever reason), we’re going to bully and harass you until we can get rid of you.”

    These administrators should be doing everything they can to help their employees succeed, especially one of their own graduates! I’m sure this teacher’s entire view of what was once an invigorating and magical place, is now completely tarnished.

    What I can say is, I’m not at all surprised that this teacher is fighting them to the nail. What else do they expect from one of their graduates? The students that leave Conestoga are strong-willed individuals that work hard and stand up for what they believe in.

    Message to this teacher: I’m routing for you. You’re representing all of us Stoga grads!

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  23. I think the whole point is that the evaluation does not match what is actually going on in the classroom. The evaluations is being used to make the teacher look like they are performing poorly when in reality there might not be anything wrong with the teaching. Therefore the teacher would be releasing something that simply makes them look bad. I do not work as a teacher; however, I would NEVER release an unfair review of myself on a blog or anywhere. It doesn’t make any sense to release the evals…

    What would be great to see is the number of complaints against the teacher from peers and students/parents, statements from colleagues who work closely with the teacher, test scores (internal and state), pre and post test scores, survey completed by students, an unbiased review of the teacher from a third and fourth party. Then everyone (including the district) would have some information to work with and not the opinions of administrators who, according to these comments on the blog, have done this before.

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  24. One of the two most interesting items of information in this article are that the teacher in question is popular with his students and that these students receive high standardized (read SAT) test scores. Isn’t this why we hire teachers? So they can inspire our students to learn their subject? If this is happening in one of the so-called top high schools in the nation, what hope does a student or teacher have in a smaller district with fewer people willing to take a stand against the hazing and bullying of this administration? When Former Principal Timothy Donovan became principal of the school, in about 2002, he immediately put programs into place with a zero tolerance for bullying and similar behavior. The school flourished under his leadership. The current principal needs to be fired, along with anyone else in the current administration who participated in this illegal conduct. The District needs to hire all new people who will support students and teachers regardless of any identifying markers such as race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

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  25. Not if others have solid grounds of human decency to stand on .

    The Margie Winters case can not be repeated in this great world of ours .

    We are all one ………

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  26. I will throw in one last gasp. Innuendo is what builds fake news. If this teacher has filed a complaint and the documentation is attached (not sure why his parents are any part of this), then why all the anonymity? By the way–the former Superintendent developed that paranoia over his time in office. HE was once a beloved Stoga principal. And if Tim Donovan is the name we want to celebrate, one very gay former teacher (ie not the least bit closeted) battled with him constantly…they were very different but the departed teacher never said his issues with Tim were gay backlash. He left for a job elsewhere with different benefits. And Dr. Waters moved towards a policy of NOT hiring residents of the district presumably because of social media and blog reporting from legitimate taxpayers whose “kid” or who themselves worked here and they could tell stories–true or not–without any evidence provided. I will echo Keith in that this public forum is being used to advance a narrative that allegedly has real evidence. All these “freedom of speech” comments are disingenuous. You are bashing the current principal with innuendo. You are defending this great guy with personal assurances but not putting your name behind it–or his name for that matter. To TESD, this blog feels like Breitbart, which probably will make some anti-establishment people feel validated. Read what Keith said–on what basis can anyone in the shadows dispute the process? Psea always fights for jobs for their employees, worthy of the support or not. . A teacher –once tenured–pretty much has a job for life. The decision for the district to allow tenure to happen is a serious one. There is a process in place…whoa is me sideline input does nothing but advance an ugly narrative about the district. Then again, that does seem to be the purpose of so much of the blogosphere and the anonymous contributors. In our little community, when teachers want a raise based on student performance, all we here is how bright the kids already are. Now a teacher’s performance is being scrutinized and we get to hear his students are doing well. Peanut Gallery analysis is piling on. Let Mom and Dad (TE parents) or the teacher himself (Conestoga student once) publish the complaint. If your goal is to win the day, please try to stick to the facts.

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    JD Reply:

    I agree with you, Sarah. I’ve been looking at this since it went up and trying to keep my trap shut because it seems like anyone who disagrees gets piled on to and it isn’t worth the grief, but it’s really stuck in my craw. I’ll tell you why – I think most of the “Peanut Gallery” is being stacked with the teacher’s parents and former schoolmate cronies. Maybe it was just the mention of the parents in the article, but I read CM regularly – comments are not normally like this. There is immaturity here. Look at the amount of people who say they know him to be an upstanding citizen and drop new information that was not included in the article. Look at the attitude of the Conestoga graduates in these comments, with immature remarks about the principal (“she is vile”, “Donovan was better”, “she didn’t smile at the play”, among others) and saying wildly arrogant things about this teacher such as he can connect with students –more than any of the other teachers– because they’re both from the same elite school. Is what this “close friend” is saying actually what the teacher believes? That comment turned my stomach and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. Do our children really leave our high school halls feeling this superior?

    I also agree that this public forum is being used to advance a narrative – one that from what I read has real evidence, which is the teachers feeling distant from the administration and feel that they are being punished – their stories here are well written with detail. I can tell the two different types of comments apart from a mile away – these are real. I’m sure the teachers are – understandably – dying for an outlet (hence union support), but lumping their case under the same umbrella as this one won’t help, only hurt. It needs a separate discussion – you cannot have a serious conversation about real issues in a comments section that is filled with this level of vengeful immaturity.

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  27. Collective bargaining, by law, has begun for a new teacher contract. The current contract expires at the end of June and bargaining had to begin early in January. So, what is the connection between the contract and the EEOC filing?
    .
    It is standard union practice to initiate, support and publicize a legal filing with either the EEOC or the PA Labor Relations Board in conjunction with the start of negotiations. The advantage for the union is three-fold. One, it galvanizes support from the rank-and-file members. “This oppressive scrutiny could happen to me so I’m giving my support to whatever the union leadership wants”. Two, the public loses confidence in the district leadership (board members, superintendent, HR director, principals) due to the supposed outrageous mistreatment of the teacher. Three, the bargaining power of the district’s leadership at the bargaining table is weakened.
    .
    Does the current EEOC filing have merit? We’ll have to wait for the legal process to decide. Is the filing just a ruse to gain leverage at the bargaining table? I don’t know but the coincidental timing with the start of negotiations raises questions.

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  28. So Sarah Jones (aka ?) how do you know these are not the facts? Whatever your motivation – the truth will prevail. I would re-read some of the comments made by other existing teachers at Conestoga and maybe suggest the Superintendent institute a Care Survey to the staff to see exactly their concerns and fears. Clearly things are not being managed well by this principle or things like the hazing last year would not of happened. Also, the Union officers have done their homework and you will be surprised by the outcome.

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    Sarah Jones Reply:

    Are you a teacher? You write as if you are. Here is something the district cannot address if you are tenured. But as a parent of TESD grads, I can only hope the new hiring standards pick this up…or the 3 years pre-tenure, when evaluations do not have to be announced….

    “Clearly things are not…..by this principle” You mean PRINCIPAL

    “things like the hazing last year would not of happened.” You mean would/should not HAVE happened.

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    JD Reply:

    Sarah, it is likely the person in question, or one of his parents or fellow “Stoga grads” (although with the spelling, let’s hope not). Who else would have inside information on what the union has done for this case in particular? This public forum is being turned into a circus for the type of people who are used to getting their way by either mommy and daddy yelling at the “mean” teacher or by suing McDonald’s because their coffee is too hot. I can assure that most of the views expressed here are not the views of teachers. “Mommy and Daddy” come to the “rescue” too frequently in the teaching profession for the way this is being handled to sit well with any teachers – but that’s just my opinion.

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  29. Some comments are suggesting that the teacher post the evaluations. That makes no sense. If the teacher is arguing that the evaluations are untrue or unfair, then why would they post something that is untrue/unfair. None of us are in the classroom so we cannot tell whether they are true or false evaluations. If I had an evaluation from work that I thought was false, I would NEVER put it up, especially if that was my whole point.

    What we could see as fact is number of complaints against the teacher, test scores, pre and post test scores for units, testimony from teachers and students and admin who work with the teacher (which according to the teacher would be disjointed – thereby proving the point).

    Also, I don’t think this is the court of public opinion. This is a blog where people share concerns and gain information. I don’t think we have all the facts (nor do I think Pattye intended to give them all). The point is to raise awareness – which seems to be working. It appears this has happened to others and that they want to remain anonymous because they are afraid of the back lash.

    A third party review of the school is needed. Is this something the Union could pay for? Why isn’t the district surveying their employees anonymously and annually to begin with? Good leaders generally want feedback from those that they lead…does the district not want this? Does the school board care?

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I have no idea about the merits of this particular case, but I completely agree with the suggestion in this comment that TESD conduct an annual employee survey, if it does not already. Of course the survey should be carefully designed to avoid manipulation by administration or union and to encourage forthright responses (perhaps a third party?). But this is just good governance practice and taxpayers deserve the assurance that community values are not being short-changed in pursuit of results.

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    JD Reply:

    Do you think “we the people” (TESD residents, school board, fellow teachers) are such sheep that we will believe the narrative and get riled without all of the facts? From watching TESD in action over years on CM, there isn’t a chance in heck that an administration – especially this administration smarting from a big loss in court – would let things get this far out of hand unless they knew what was in those evaluations was solid.

    The stronger the refusals coming from the teacher’s camp to release the evaluations and the complaint explaining the dispute, the more suspect and the stronger the inclination is to believe Keith’s comment that the administration is doing their job. The poor attitude shown in these comments just cements this point ever further. If this has happened to others left and right, where by god are the reports about the exorbitant turnover rate at the high school?

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  30. No offense is meant, but do you really believe TENURED employees really have issues an anonymous survey would uncover? The job of a teacher ncludes grades down to 3.8 or 2.7 …. subjective? And yet, the evaluation of these same professionals is strictly limited to essentally “pass-fail.” And their pay is completely unrelated to their performance. So an untenured employee is very seriously scrutinized for 3 years before they basically can coast out their career. And know this–termination is virtually impossible. You can be a very bad tenured teacher, but put in effort for announced observations for a single semester and your clock starts over. So if some admins have concerns that this teacher (who it seems to me is a bit too much ‘former student’ ) is not worthy of $60,000 a year and a job for life in Pennsylvania, “needs improvement” is a message, not a threat.

    As I said previously–there is a process in place. The system protects the process, and under collective bargaining, the Union protects the teacher. In the end, the evaluation process of an untenured teacher is the ONLY mechanism to protect the students and the school program. Because giving a “needs improvement” takes legal action once tenured. It does not for an untenured person, but if he claims it is because he is gay, he gets his day in court and the district gets to pay legal bills….again. Who protects the taxpayers?

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  31. I’m a parent of a player and employee of district. the D.A in his first press statement never used the words aledged or accused he simply eluded to a statement of guilt i.e. they sodomized this boy. he made himself judge and jury from the onset and from this self serving action thinking breaking a big story like this would further his career. I say it should end it! while he goes about his daily’s many lives have been destroyed over his reckless use of the lack of truth. as one who has seen first hand what it has done to some of the people involved it angers me deeply that the D.A. has not even shown an ounce of regret for the destruction he has brought into people lives all because he chose to to lie before he had all the facts.

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