Hostile work environment, bullying, threats, need feed back please

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Archergirl, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Archergirl

    Archergirl New Member

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    Dec 16, 2013

    Hi all. I'm new to this forum. I've been in education for 20 years and at my current teaching position going on 7 years. 2 years after I started there! we got a new, young principal who has made life hell for most of us. For whatever reason, I'm not part of his clique. He takes jabs at my program, never says one word of thanks or appreciation for my busting my butt for all the extra very hard work I've put in setting up a brand new program that my department wouldn't lift a finger to use! He artificially decreases my enrollment so that I have to teach classes that none of the other teachers want to teach. He threatened to cut me to 80% if I didn't take this particular class (which is illegal according to my union). He goes behind my back and gossips and schemes against me with one of my department members (and this is a guy no one likes who is a loose cannon and constantly gets in trouble with the parents!) I've discovered confidential emails that I sent to the Principal and he's forwarded them behind my back to my department member. This teacher has also yelled at me and threatened my job on numerous occasions! He has gotten in my face so close that when he yells at me he spits on my face when I don't engage in arguments with him. He is in the Principal's clique so he feels invincible. Our principal has created huge divisiveness and favoritism on the staff that many teachers are fighting and hate each other now. He demoralizes many staff members. Another teacher verbally attacked me and my colleague over some certification issue that was her fault, we went to the Principal, and he did nothing. I won't even go into the sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior that goes on. Since his hire, several teachers have left, which is unusual for this school. I have developed severe anxiety, insomnia, depression, stomach problems, low self-esteem, I don't feel appreciated, and I have to drag myself to work. I love the kids and my program, but admin is making our lives unbearable with the never ending stream of useless paperwork that goes nowhere, excessive meetings, 4 evaluations per year, extra activities for no pay. I have gone to the union several times and they write a letter to the Principal's boss, he is reprimanded, and he gets so angry that he goes after us 10 times worse! He has been turned into the union countless times, and has been reported to the higher ups in the district. Still, nothing changes and he gets worse. He has the parents and the Superintendent wrapped around his finger.

    This year was particularly bad. The Principal turned the new VP against me and cut my classes very low, even though I had numerous parents and students come to me complaining that they signed up for my class and were rerouted to another class that they didn't want. He has been trying to dissolve my program for years, and I've had to fight very hard to keep it going, and it has exhausted me! I do many extra curricular activities weekly for which I receive ZERO pay. I have been so exhausted, demoralized, my program is being artificially cut, that I have developed some health problems. I took a couple of month off for sick leave (which I have NEVER done) and debating whether I should even return. I've lost my passion for teaching and there are no better schools in my district, so if I transferred I don't see how I'd be in a better position since our Superintendent is making life hell for every school in the district.

    Friends have advised me to quit, but I don't know what else I can do? I've been teaching for most of my life and don't really have any other skills. Plus, I'm terrified of losing my salary and benefits!! The whole idea of teaching just doesn't appeal to me anymore after the emotional and professional beating I've taken. I'm scheduled to return after winter break, and I feel sick to my stomach when I think about returning. My friends and family tell me I've become very anxious, angry, impatient, panicky, and cry a lot more due to all the work stress. I don't feel myself.

    Does anyone have any advice?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 17, 2013

    Sounds difficult. Let's see what the A to Z community can suggest.
     
  4. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I would find another school if possible. What did you do to PO this guy? What do you teach? It sounds horrible. Personally, I would say parents are your biggest ally and hope. fwiw, I worked for a real nasty individual for awhile and saw some teachers bail out but I figured I would outlast him and I did. Now I have a great lady boss. To be honest, in all my years (30+) he is the only bad one I ever had.
     
  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I'm confused. The parents do or don't like him?
     
  6. Bridgebuilder

    Bridgebuilder Rookie

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    Dec 17, 2013

    What a terrible thing to have to go through. I've done a lot of work with adults to help them deal with abusive people, and unfortunately, when the "system" doesn't work, there's no good option, only options that are better than others.

    The obvious thing, which I'm sure you've already considered, is to look at other options for employment within another board, or school, but that's not always practical, depending on what might be available. Can you slowly and quietly be on the lookout for other teaching jobs?

    Since none of us complete control over our work environments, but we have "some" control over what drives us nuts, something else you can try is to "detach" yourself from the "crap", and try your best to focus on the welfare of your students. If you can still get satisfaction from molding their lives in constructive ways, it may help you get through.

    I wish I had a magic solution for you. Anyone who has experienced the stress symptom, that you describe, from working in a toxic environment understands.
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I think this is two different people. The first is a teacher in OP's department, the second is the principal.

    I don't have any words of advice, but just lots of :hugs:
     
  8. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Dec 17, 2013

    Leave quick and do not look back. I do not believe they deserve you. I would have left the first year that VP got started.
     
  9. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Dec 17, 2013

    Is it possible to transfer to another school in your district? I know, at least in CA, you can transfer within district and keep seniority and benefits and everything.

    How long has he been there? What's the admin turnover rate at your school? In my experience, admin is usually around for 3-4 years tops.
     
  10. smithereyenes

    smithereyenes Rookie

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    Dec 18, 2013

    I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I have also been in extremely toxic environments with principals, though nothing like what you are experiencing. I understand the physical symptoms you describe because I have had those too, along with losing my passion for teaching.

    It sounds like you have done what you can and since the union is not helping and seemingly the superintendent is just as bad, can you find an attorney to review your case for a lawsuit? You may or may not have one but it might be worth a look.

    My only other suggestion is to leave the district entirely and try to find something in another district or at a private school.

    Big hugs. I am in a new school/new district and my extreme level of anxiety continues because of my past experience, even though the atmosphere is completely different. I feel worthless. I equate it to an abused child. The affects of the abuse are so bad that I don't know if it is possible to ever feel confident in myself and my teaching ability again.
     
  11. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Dec 18, 2013

    It isn't as easy to just leave a job as some people might think. For example, I have been with my current system for 20+ years. If I leave I would take a $20,000+ pay cut in addition to losing my seniority. Not many people can afford that kind of a pay cut.
    In my area there are very few positions open each year. Most systems have pared their staff down to a minimum because of budget cuts. Many school systems have a RIF list which means they must hire from that list before they can look at outside applicants.
    I understand your mental health is important, but so is paying your bills and supporting your family. I agree with the Ms. SLS that most administrators are gone in 3-4 years, so toughing it out might be the best idea.
     
  12. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Dec 18, 2013

    I understand.
     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2013

    I don't know if I'd switch schools. Here's why: In my district, principals and vice principals are moved around every 3-5 years to different sites within our district. If you move to another site, those same administrators could very well end up at the site you transfer to.
     
  14. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Dec 18, 2013

    Wouldn't that be a nightmare?:eek:
     
  15. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Dec 18, 2013

    I'm so sorry. Woah, spitting in your face, that's outrageous! Can you press charges about that or let me guess, you two were alone when he did it so it's just his word against yours & he'd say you can't prove it?

    If you didn't return after the break, what exactly would you do?

    Good luck!
     
  16. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Dec 19, 2013

    Begin documenting everything. Dates and records are important to the people who look at these issues. I had a bad experience with a supervisor. He evaluated me, and pointed out one big problem--so he thought. I asked him to explain how to implement the plan. It was not possible. I then asked him to show me the regulations that dictated the plan. He could not. I later received a letter from him apologizing.

    My point: Make this VP explain, demonstrate and prove everything he demands of you.
     

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