I'm a mom who had to transfer our son to another school because we were having issues with the principal. This principal has very poor leadership skills. She is resistant to change (works very hard to keep "status quo") and more importantly, she doesn't work collaboratively with the parent community. She advocates strongly for her staff rather than the children/students.
Therefore, I am VERY CONCERNED about the children at the old school. I believe due to the poor leadership of this principal, the students are missing opportunities and are not being challenged to their potential.
I have filed a complaint with the central office with the Director of School Performance (DSP) but am getting nowhere. I am told that the next step is to meet with the Community Superintendent. I believe this meeting will be futile as well.
My child is in the Montgomery County Public schools in Maryland. Any advice on where to go from here? Has anyone been in a similar situation? What's your best advice? Thank you.
Is there a PTA/PTO group at the old school? If so, they may have a way to help facilitate a conversation with the Comm Superintendent. For example, here in Louisville, a school PTA can contact me (as the district president) or another district board member and we can try to bridge the gap in the communication process. If you don't have a parent group at the school, do you have an educational omsbudsman? Some school districts have parent assistance liasons as well. It may be, unfortunately, if you are the only parent to file a complaint then it might be percieved as your issue, not the principals. That is why it would be a good idea to see if other parents in the school have felt the same way, and if so would they be willing to speak about it. I know that they may not given that they may feel that the Principal would take offense and might react in a way that would negatively impact their children. Make sure to have documentation to every conversation, etc. Again, here in Louisville, when we are asked to attend a school PTA meeting where there has been poor communication and/or support for the PTA (or at least that is how the PTA percieves it), we always go in pairs and take notes so that there isn't any "he said/she said" later on. I know that there is a PTA in Maryland, so you could also contact National PTA (www.pta.org) and explain this situation and inquire if there is a MD PTA representative that can help facilitate this conversation more productively.
The only gift is a portion of thyself - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yes, the old school has a PTA and I was part of the board. Thanks so much for your suggestion. My mistake is I spoke to the Director of School Performance alone so I guess it was perceived as my "issue" only. Also, I did ask other parents if they are willing to speak but all of them are afraid because their children are still in this particular school. This I think is a major problem because community superintendents won't get honest feedback from all the parents due to fear of retribution. I will try my best to help the children in the old school because I strongly believe they deserve better education and with the existing principal they are missing opportunities because she is resisting change and not welcoming ALL parent engagement. Thanks again for your advice, I really appreciate it.
It may be that you become the "spokesperson" for your group as they may fear retaliation towards their kids for speaking out. I would suggest meeting with the group of other parents and ask what they feel. Those comments can remain "off the record" but at least you will have a better sense what others percieve the issue(s) to be. If part of the district policy is to encourage parent engagement, which means not just saying you support pta activities but actually encouraging pta activities, then one of the biggest roles a pta has is in advocacy. You are not necessarily asking that the principal be removed, but I presume you would like to see more of a willingness on her part to listen and partner with the parents who are part of the school. Let me know! I have my own rally to plan, we have parents who just learned that the tuition based preschool at 3 of our public schools is being terminated which leaves them to restructure their family/student plans next fall. BOE meeting, I'm on the agenda!
The only gift is a portion of thyself - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are there others who have left because of the principal? Maybe your PTA friends can help you find them and together you can advocate.
We had a principal removed and while it was an ugly battle, it was the right decision.
Thanks again for your suggestion, I really appreciate it. That's exactly what happened - I reported the situation to the county's central office and was the "spokesperson" for a couple of other families but that didn't go well. I was basically told that if I can't disclose the other parents' names then there's nothing she can do. I did tell her that that's basically part of the problem. The principal in the old school is just that - "OLD school" thinking and management style which is really hurting the children. They are missing opportunities and clearly, no collaborative efforts are fostered between the school and home. It is so sad - the worst part is that central office does not "see" what's happening - they think everything is going well and they refuse to "dig deeper."
As for your "challenge" - good luck. I hope you are able to help those families who are affected. I wish you all the best.
Thanks for your reply. Yes, there are other families who left/transferred - unfortunately most of them have "let go" because it does take up so much time and energy to fight this cause. Everyone of course have different perspectives, experiences and philosophies in life so we all handle situations differently. However, I think I can rally a few parents to meet with the community superintendent.
If I may ask you - how did you convince the "upper management" to understand & see what you guys were saying? What specific "evidences" did you all gather or prepare? I would really appreciate more information. Thank you so much :-)
Haven't been looking at my boards I see. We were lucky in that we didn't have to convince the superintendent's office, just 6 of 10 members of the local school council which has hire/fire decisions over the principal.
But many parents thought things were fine, and for some, they were. I was one of the ones originally who didn't find him bad though after listening to others and spending time on the new search committee I started to understand.
When we have had to stand before the board, we have often received what we needed because we had multiple parents there to advocate for it. Though there's a fine line between multiple advocates and people who are considered rabble rousers.