Is this legal?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by Pemi, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. Pemi

    Pemi New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2020
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 14, 2020

    This is a bit of a story, but I'll try to keep it short-ish.

    The very short version: I am being black-listed by the vice-principal of the high school because a student made up an incident that didn't happen when I was a long-term sub. There is no "write-up" of the incident in my file, but the VP seems focused on making sure I'll never work in the district, despite the entire thing being a lie fabricated by a student. I was a young, new, inexperienced teacher when the incident happened, and didn't do all I should have to clear myself at the time and now have not gotten a job I interviewed for and was well qualified for because of this (I believe).

    What can I do (if anything)? I am being found guilty based on the word of one student (who did things like this frequently to other teachers as well), despite no proof, and despite an "investigation" where other students, and a para confirmed that it didn't happen.

    I really need a job- and can't move to another district, and other schools are too far to drive... and am curious where to go from here.

    Longer version:

    I just interviewed for a teaching job for which I'm well qualified at a school where I was a long-term sub. I stepped in as a sub when the previous sub was driven out by the students' terrible behavior mid-year. So I came into a classroom of students ready to drive another sub out- nobody else wanted this job other subs were asked and refused, since they knew the circumstances. It was a tough situation, but I made it through, perhaps not with a slam dunk, but I made it and succeeded, and came out with good recommendations from everyone I worked with in the department.

    I've taught at community college for 5 years, and was hoping to get a permanent job at this school because where I live it's rural, and I can't easily move to teach in another district- especially now with the housing crunch.

    The interview went really well, and lasted 2 hours. We connected, the classroom and lab were amazing, and I was excited to start this new job- lots of hand on stuff and a great facility.

    But- during the interview I was asked about an "incident" when I was a long-term sub, where I was accused of screaming a curse word at a student, by a few of the girls in one of my classes. The actual situation, was one of my (male) students called this girl a "b" and I just ignored it and moved on. Perhaps I didn't handle it as well as I should have, or as well as a seasoned professional, but I absolutely do not use that word nor do I curse - especially at students! Anyone who knew me at the school said this was completely out of character, but the vice principal really went after me. It was horrible,and I had a difficult time defending myself, despite doing nothing wrong, because I was caught of guard and overwhelmed. Other teachers supported me, and there was even a para in the room (who said it didn't happen).

    So I thought it was over and done with, until it popped up in the interview. I described what happened, instead, but it was still very awkward, and it sure made me look bad and it's just hard to defend myself without seeming, well, defensive.

    The interview continued well, and I thought I had a great shot at the job.

    A week later, I asked about my status and was told they are "not moving forward with my application". All I can think is- the VP must have really fought me being hired.

    Is there anything I can do? Is this legal? Can I talk to the superintendent and get more info or have my issues heard that way?

    I realize Covid has every super busy, but this is my life, my reputation, and my livelihood.

    I'm very upset that this false accusation continues to follow me because of the vice principal. When I interviewed, my interviewer said the vice principal had warned her about me, and told her about the incident as if it were proven fact!

    See, I even feel weird defending myself here, despite the fact it didn't happen.

    Sorry for the super long post, but I wanted to make sure all the info is out there for consideration. It's a bummer because this job would have been a really nice fit for me.

    Thanks,
    P
     
  2.  
  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,025
    Likes Received:
    1,495

    Aug 14, 2020

    Were you a part of the union being a long term sub? I don't know how those things work but If you do not have the union to ask for advice I would cut my losses and apply to a different district. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere I find it hard to believe that ALL the other districts are too far away depending on what you're considering to be far.
     
  4. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2016
    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    206

    Aug 14, 2020

    This probably isn't what you want to hear, but move. Try to teach online if you can't move right away. If there are no other options where you are but this district where you are now aware that the VP is bad-mouthing you to everyone, you're either going to have to move or wait out that guy's career. The students involved are probably long gone and since there's no formal documentation, there's nothing to appeal anyway.

    Is it right? No, but that's the way it is. Your other options aren't great either, which would be to try to appeal to someone higher or confront the guy directly. I don't recommend either. The best thing I can see you could do is put in a complaint to HR, but that's not going to get you a job. It might help keep the same thing from happening to someone else though.
     
    bella84 and ready2learn like this.
  5. Pemi

    Pemi New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2020
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 14, 2020

    Thanks, yes, the closest school districts other than this one are over an hour drive away. There is one other district closer, but they are far more desirable and turn over is very low so positions rarely open up. There is a Waldorf School just opening, I can try there as a last-ditch effort, perhaps.

    It seems wrong to me, certainly confronting the VP won't do any good... I just wish there was more I could do... I hate that this is on my "record" as it is totally against my character. Sure, I have my weak points, but cursing at students is not one of them!
     
  6. Pemi

    Pemi New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2020
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 14, 2020

    I don't think I was part of the union as a long term sub, but I can check their policies. I didn't pay any dues, that I remember, I was paid at a daily rate with no benefits.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,713
    Likes Received:
    1,680

    Aug 15, 2020

    I wonder if there is something you can do legally...such as getting a lawyer to write to the VP and suggest that he might be sued for defamation or something. It might put just enough scare in him to stop spreading lies about you.
     
    CaliforniaRPCV likes this.
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,339
    Likes Received:
    788

    Aug 15, 2020

    "When I interviewed, my interviewer said the vice principal had warned her about me, and told her about the incident as if it were proven fact!"

    At first I was going to say you have no proof of what the vice principal said or did not say, but then I reread the part that I bolded. When I reread that part, I realized your suspicions do have some merit. Would the interviewer be willing to put in writing that the vice principal "warned her about you" and the specifics of that warning? Without that, all you really have is suspicions based on he-said, she-said.

    Getting a lawyer is an excellent idea, but it is costly. I'm going to be very honest -- your reputation is already damaged beyond repair if word has gotten out that you had "an issue" -- whether it is true or not. This is the horrible truth about teaching -- a single allegation can destroy any teacher's career, but when you are a sub, you have almost no recourse.

    At the very least, I would set up an appointment with the Human Resource director at the school district and be very specific. You are going to have to name the specific person who interviewed you who said the principal "warned her/him about" you. You also need to formal request a copy of your complete personnel folder from when you were substitute teaching (they have to give it to you if you ask in writing) so that you can determine if any paper work that you are unaware of exists in that folder.

    If there is no documentation of the incident, and you didn't use the vice principal as a reference for this specific job, AND you can prove that he said something that cost you job consideration, then you have a case. This means the person (the interviewer) has to be willing to say and document what the vice principal (who is probably his/her boss) said. Don't be surprised if all of the sudden her recollection changes.

    But if all that lines up, you may be able leverage your way into HR placing you someplace so you don't sue them. If this happens, you will start that job working for a principal who was forced into taking you and isn't too happy about it. That is a really tough way to start a job -- it's like you already have two strikes against you and you haven't even started yet. You will be scrutinized for every little thing, and trust me, it will all be well documented at that point. Is this really what you want?

    But here's the other problem. Principals and vice principals have a very tight network with each other. If you "make trouble" for this vice principal, (even if you have every right to do that, because he is the one who is wrong) every single principal and vice principal is going to know about it very quickly. They will all smile to your face and be extremely careful when they talk to you in future interviews, but quite mysteriously, you will never be the one selected for the teaching job. There will always be a reasonable explanation -- another candidate had more experience, another candidate was a "better fit" with our current teaching staff, etc. When all of this is said and done, it really won't change a thing.

    I can tell you this from being on many hiring committees during my 19 years as a teacher. The comment is usually something like this "I heard something that concerns me about this candidate, but I can't go into details." Nothing more is said, but the entire committee recognizes immediately this is not the candidate to consider. If there are 5 equally qualified candidates, who would even consider the one who someone on the committee has "a concern" about? It isn't right. It isn't fair. But that candidate's paperwork is quietly pushed to the side, and they choose from the other four completely qualified candidates. That's just how it works, unless you have someone on that committee who is adamant that you are the best candidate and is willing to fight for you, and fight hard for you -- like someone you've previously worked with, who is sufficiently high-up on the totem pole, who strongly believes you are worth the battle.

    It is awful that this has happened to you. It is wrong. You may have legal recourse. But the reality here is you need to move on to a different district and build a solid reputation there that will overcome these allegations.

    I know this isn't what you want to hear, but, in my opinion, that is the reality of it.
     
  9. Pemi

    Pemi New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2020
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 15, 2020

    Thank you so much for that detailed, well thought out answer RainStorm! I really appreciate the time and I believe you are absolutely correct in your statements and the issues I may face in this district if I do (or don't) pursue the matter with HR or go the legal route.

    It's extremely frustrating because I came in as a long term sub to what everyone knew was "the worst" class in the school and I finished out the year well and the kids benefited and learned something. It wasn't easy, but I stuck it out when many wouldn't. Even the Special Education Director pulled me aside and told me how impressed she was, and that she wouldn't for a second teach those kids.

    I do have the support of the science staff I worked with, and I know they've given me good recommendations for other jobs (sub again out of district) but I'm not sure they'd go on a limb for me, or if that is even fair to ask of them.

    I'll take into consideration everything you've said- I do think I'll formally request a copy of my personell file (although this issue may not be in the books) and meet with the HR director, if I think it is worthwhile. I do agree, though, that either way, my chances of employment in this district are very poor, even if I manage to gain employment. We have low Covid numbers in this area- but I could possibly get a short-term job if a teacher has to leave suddenly, but even there I'm not sure if that would help in any way, except at least I'd have some income.

    Thanks again, I'm going to think this over carefully and move forward. I have been offered jobs in 2 other districts - where the Vice Principal wasn't a reference (obviously) and had no influence- but moving was always a huge challenge as there is a housing shortage in those areas and next to zero rentals - so I was really hoping to stay where I am. I appreciate your help!
     
    RainStorm likes this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. RainStorm,
  2. ready2learn,
  3. jjoyce
Total: 299 (members: 3, guests: 277, robots: 19)
test