Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sinner or Saint, There Still Needs to Be Fairness

(Update: I had originally filed this thread with a timeline but it ended up seeming long so I went back and omitted it. It is in the appeal document.)

I found the appeal document about the sexual harassment case that the district has now lost on appeal. I read through it and I think I understand why the district lost their appeal (it's a technical reading of the RCW).

What I think is most important in the reading is tracking how this assistant principal, from about the moment she made her complaint, was bounced around the district.

Glenda Williams' initial assertions were found valid by the District. They disciplined the principal and moved her and from there it must have seemed like a trip down the rabbit hole to her. That multiple principals and staffs felt compelled to think the worst about her (when they knew nothing about why she was transferred) is kind of sickening. She had good years at Ballard before the incidents began and managed to have 3 good years at Roosevelt. Why staff at RBHS and Ingraham felt she was a problem is hard to know.

I am not saying she was a perfect administrator/employee. I don't know enough about her work. But reading this account makes it look like she got tagged with a label that seemed to follow her wherever she went. And, that the district did everything towards the end but say "leave and don't come back" says a lot about how they handle things.

Several times during the whole thing her lawyer made suggestions about how to help the situation (like give her a decent position or make her a principal). If that district had protected her even the slightest, the district might not be paying out money today.

The reason I wrote this up is because of the issue of principal evaluations of teachers being a part of the teacher evaluations. If this many principals and administrators were unable/unwilling to give someone the benefit of the doubt (so why was she transferred) and the district, knowing her situation, didn't try to protect her despite their agreement with what happened, makes me worry.

From this story alone, I can see how scary it might be for a teacher who felt their principal could not be objective and professional. How to guard against this, I don't know. Clearly, it played out for Ms. Williams in school after school.

10 comments:

Teachermom said...

I wish I could say this all surprises me. I joined the union after I moved to Seattle and witnessed what can pass for "Management" here.

There is definitely a culture of fearing retaliation, as well as stonewalling by superiors when they are questioned about inappropriate behavior. I believe this has cost the district not only a lot of money, but a lot of excellent employees.

And not at all surprising that Carla Santorno did not respond.

WenD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WenD said...

I read the PI and Times archives on the original coverage.

There's a reason teachers have unions, although in this case, didn't Williams have union support as a VP? In one story, a fellow admin is quoted, first accusing Williams of laziness, saying her accusations were fiction, then calling out the Ballard principal, saying he wouldn't dare treat male employees the way he treated her and other female employees. Nothing like taking the stage for some self-serving grave dancing during a hearing that was held for the PTSA and staff to gain some, wait for it, transparency. (Principal Odoemene defended his lack of disclosure by citing district policy; he claimed he was prevented from speaking about what really happened.)

Reading the ugly chain of events, and Williams' experiences at different schools, the differences aren't surprising. She was accepted and treated fairly at RHS, but openly retaliated against at Ingraham. (One admin is quoted as having said she was getting what she deserved!)

Is this one more reason why certain schools are favored over others? Is this also the reason for the leadership churn many have asked about in the past? Is this why the sup routinely changes up staff?

seattle citizen said...

My guess is that, as a generality, schools in neigborhoods, and/or with demographics that are themselves churnful, have more churn generally: more diversity, less attention from parent/guardians and others, more, well, issues: Hunger, drugs, crime, absentee elders, more languages spoken, fess instance of deeper background knowledge in students, more mis-diagnosis of trouble and support for it, etc etc etc.
Sooo....if some schools are more churnful than others, it would follow that leaders of those schools would be more churned. I mean not moved around, but their minds and stomachs are churning with the churn around them.

Ergo, more transition of leadership.

With this transition of leadership comes uncertainty on the part of educators as to where best to land, where best to have a) less churn in the building, and b) more faith that the person who starts evaluating them at the beginning of the year is the same person evaluating them at the end. And the next year...One reason there are pockets of calmer waters around the district, where things putter along just fine: these schools have a stable leadership and educators who thereby feel stable.

Has anyone done an analysis of who went where and how around the district at the administrative level? It would be interesting, and tell us which schools, if any, are disproportionately suffering turnover and which are more stable.

I wonder if that disportionality correlates to disproportionality in WASL scores between wealthier students and poorer students.

seattle citizen said...

Which begs the question:

What makes building administrators feel churnful? What are the causes of unease? The four main "categories" would be student, parent/guardian, staff and administration above them.

If we identify causes of unease amongst admins, perhaps we can mitigate them.

Then we just have to define "quality student," "quality teacher," "quality administrator," and "quality bureaucrat" and we're set.

Stu said...

What makes building administrators feel churnful?

One thing can't help, and something as I see being a big problem with principals evaluating teachers, is that principals can be moved at the whim of the superintendent. Without a real commitment to the principal from the district, how can the principal have a real commitment to the school?

We've been in two situations where we've seen really involved principals moved for no reason whatsoever; not only does this add to the "churn" in the school, it doesn't allow the principal to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the teachers.

How many principals have been moved around since MGJ came to Seattle? And how many were moved in the same number of years before that? Just curious . . . Meg?

stu

seattle citizen said...

It's all part of "the plan": Come to town, close alternatives, minimize non-gen-ed-classroom supports ("Inclusion": above and below level, special ed, ELL etc...eliminate these specialties in favor of one gen ed, at-level classroom whose teacher we can "score") standardize curriculum around the median, introduce a district-wide "test," introduce "teacher quality" as a focus, then shuffle all the admins around so the schools have little stability, leading to, yes, churn AND the inability of principals to become the leaders they must be: If principals led, and remained at their posts, THEY would be accountable. By moving them around and weakening their connection to the school, downtown becomes the managers of staff and students through test scores reported on digital readouts downtown.

Then the parents who can move out to private schools (kaching, privates!) and the parents who can't, once convinced that the test-score accountability system "means something" and is immutable, stay and are fed pap by the ever-so-benevolent edu-industry via the MAP test provided by the superintendent's NWEA.

Prncipals? We don't need principals! We've got RIT measures on the MAP!

seattle citizen said...

Here's Dan Goldhaber, another reformista, chiming in on the Times opinion page this afternoon. He's with the UW's Gate's funded Center for Education Data and Research, and by the looks of his publications, he's been drinking lots of Koolaide:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.
com/html/opinion/2012743626_
guest30goldhaber.html

not a fan said...

There is often more going on than those outside of the school may know. I have no knowledge of what went on at other schools. But she was FAR from a good employee and was far from having any good years at Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Williams was an excellent, compassionate,administrator at RHS despite the jealous fellow administrator "not a fan." Let it go, move on. We all watched Williams go through hell! She was victorious in the Courts but lost her career, all because she refused to accept the status quo for attractive female administrators in the district.