School district administrators promised to investigate complaints against school principals who are allegedly harassing and intimidating Palm Beach County teachers. The teacher’s union president told the school board during their regular meeting last month that the large amount of complaints regarding principals’ behavior poses a threat to student achievement and creates a hostile work environment throughout the district
The teacher’s union requested a new school district task force commissioned to help teachers and principals develop training programs that would help change the dictator-like culture that permeates the county schools. Their hope is that district administrators will learn better ways of leading without domination, fear, intimidation and bullying.
According to the union representative, teachers are often ordered to sacrifice planning time to cover additional classes, activities or duties beyond their job description and are assigned tasks with impossible deadlines. The revamped education laws, teacher evaluation system and financial risks prevent teachers from speaking up. If they do say something to their principal they are often told to shape up or ship out.
Much like the new strong anti-bullying policies established to protect students, adult bulling often looks very similar and includes teasing, physical violence, and sexual, religious or racial harassment. When teachers feel intimidated, demoralized or unmotivated the students suffer as a result.
The Palm Beach County teacher’s union contract includes clauses that address discrimination and harassment, but not employee intimidation.
The school board superintendent promised to look into all complaints and sought constructive suggestions from the board members. The school district spokesperson said wherever they find evidence of inappropriate behavior, corrective and disciplinary action will be taken.
Source: sun-sentinel.com, “Palm Beach County teachers charge principals with rampant intimidation,” Marc Freeman, April 19, 2012