How to work with a terrible employee who can't be fired?
May 13, 2012 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm the manager of an incompetent teacher working in a private school. With an unspoken company policy of "unless they commit a crime, we don't fire people," how do I get this person to see that they need to leave?

As newly-appointed educational director of a school for kids with emotional issues, I'm doing the best I can to manage the teaching staff. Almost all of them are absolute rock stars at their jobs.

All except one teacher.

I have formal and informal observations, meetings to discuss specific areas of success and improvement where we jointly agree to improvement plans, team meetings where we discuss areas of concern, team meetings with teachers and clinicians who give us insight on best ways to work with these kids, etc.

Most of my teachers are wonderful at the work (which is very emotionally draining and all-around challenging)...except one teacher.

When hired, I was informed that the school had tried unsuccessfully to get him to resign for years, but he's not budging. The are massive files documenting his inability to do the job to the standards agreed upon by him and previous administrators (there's a pretty high turnover in this admin position).

In short, he cannot successfully connect with our highly variable students, he's a screamer, a pedantic know-it-all, he has no cohesive lesson plans, he spends his planning time annoying other teachers (who have been told to lock their doors to keep her out), he rarely hands in required paperwork and reports on time, he goes into way too much detail about his personal life, sexual escapades and various ailments to all staff within earshot, and our students can't stand him.

The highest-up administration knows all of this and has made it clear that I need to keep documenting everything, to keep working with him on the improvement plan, to send him to professional training, and to keep informing him that he is not meeting the agreed-upon standards. However, their unspoken policy is that they don't fire people.

I've had weekly discussions with him time and again that he is not meeting expectations for the position, but his response is always that he does the job perfectly and that the administration and their expectations are idiotic. He will just say that if we don't like how he does the job, then we can fire him. He then threatens to call a lawyer.

In short, how can I handle this employee as well as staff (and student) morale?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What state are you in?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2012


Honestly, if you don't have the power to fire an employee who is verbally abusing emotionally troubled kids and sexually harassing his colleagues, I'd say you don't actually have any authority over your staff. The reason he doesn't go along with the "improvement plans" is that there's no reason for him to do so, because you have no power to impose any real consequences. You need to call a meeting with the board of directors and the PTA (or whatever the equivalent group is that represents the parents who actually pay the tuition that keeps the school open) to let them know that this guy is a nightmare and a walking lawsuit.

Honestly, if I were you, I'd probably videotape him screaming at the kids and then email the video to their parents and to your local newspaper with a note explaining that you're not allowed to fire the guy per *Name of Specific Administrator*'s instructions, but that he is regularly emotionally abusing vulnerable children and refuses to stop. If their policy is not to fire anyone, you won't be fired for raising an utter shitstorm about this, so that's what I'd do. But then, I'm a troublemaker.
posted by decathecting at 7:05 AM on May 13, 2012 [43 favorites]


You're going to get absolutely no where with him, so you might as well spend your time and energy trying to see if your higher ups will make him the exception to the 'no firing' rule.

I work in a school.
posted by bquarters at 7:05 AM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


He's not going to leave. Can you reassign him to some sort of administrative (paper-pushing, powerless) position? Seems like everyone else would be happy not to have to interact with him.
posted by Scram at 7:06 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


What decathecting said. Go back to your higher-ups and remind them that firing is basically the only power that employers actually have, and that "retraining" and "monitoring" and "informing" him isn't working.

Your higher-ups suck. Keep your resume out there, because this is why there is high turnover in your position.
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


You should find a new job and then resign. A manager without the power to fire so toxic an employee is in a completely untenable position - you don't have the authority to carry out an essential function of your job.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:19 AM on May 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


"If you don't let me fire him, you've effectively fired me."
posted by ifandonlyif at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2012 [26 favorites]


Fire him!

It sounds like it's either you or him at this point. Go to your higher-ups, with his file in hand, and tell them "I'm firing Toxic Teacher. I expect your support. We have a massive amount of documentation of his incompetence and inability to meet expectations, and our students deserve better."

Then shut up. See what happens. And if it comes down to it, give them your two weeks' notice.
posted by Picklegnome at 7:38 AM on May 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


If he's creating a hostile work environment, the management is putting themselves and the school at risk of a lawsuit from staff, or worse, a parent. If the papers find out they've been allowing this behavior for years, it will be realy bad for them. Especially considering you student population. Perhaps approaching them from this angle will get their attention. I agree with the others, perhaps it's time to move on if you don't have authority to fire staff. Document everything.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2012


I agree with everything said above me. The only way this person isn't going to be a problem is if he's no longer there. He's not going to change his behavior because A) for some reason he wants to keep the job and B) nobody can do anything to get him to change.

No wonder there's high turnover. If I was in your position I'd be gone once I had another job lined up. It sounds like Hell.
posted by theichibun at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2012


Reassign his position to less responsibility and contact w kids overtime until he is in a position that can be made redundant.

Have another supervisor sit in on all of his classes in the meantime?

Did anyone ever approach him on his behaviour?

It would be a mistake to expose this outside of the faculty.
posted by Under the Sea at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If you don't let me fire him, you've effectively fired me."

Yup. This is it. Make it clear that you are ready and eager to do your job, and to do it well. That means laying out standards, setting consequences, and following through. One of those consequences should be firing for an employee who is incompetent or worse at their job.

Make it clear that you are willing to do this (handle firing him), but that you are not willing to do an alternate job of going through the motions with someone whom everyone recognizes is not engaged in improvement. Be clear on what you will or won't do with this individual, and stick to that.

You say this person needs to leave, but from what I can see they don't need to at all. In fact they have a job where they can act however they want, don't need to improve themselves and get paid regularly. Lots of folks would love that sort of position.

(On preview, I like the notion of assigning him elsewhere. Perhaps as a teacher assistant to one of your stars. Of course, then you may have to ask permission to hire another teacher. A new opportunity to point out how bad it is to be paying someone who doesn't do their job.)
posted by meinvt at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yea there's one thing not being sufficiently explained here. This is a private school. Why wasn't he fired years ago? Private school teachers have no union protections, right? Fire him! Why can't you just fire him? You're the educational director for crying out loud, it should be within your power to fire bad teachers at will.
posted by imagineerit at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


This summer, when it's time to give the teachers their class assignments for the following year, can you just not give him a class assignment?
Hire someone new, put them in his current class, and tell him something along the lines of "we don't have a spot for you in a classroom right now, so for for the foreseeable future we're going to have you [be a substitute/be a library assistant/supervise the lunch room/by an assistant in the office/etc]. I don't know when this might change, so if you want to be teaching you may want to look elsewhere". If you pick something that's demoralizing enough -i.e.. he's no longer really a teacher, he no longer has any power, he's no longer alone in a classroom to do what he wants - and you suggest that the situation might not change and that he should consider looking elsewhere if he really wants to teach, then maybe he'll quit.
posted by Kololo at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


You might also look through any documentation of the school, like a charter, a constitution, articles of whatever it took to establish the school in the first place. See if there is anything in writing that says you can't fire anyone, or even if there is something there that says that type of person cannot exist at the school.

Then I would start to ask around to see (or to imply) if that guy has some kind of blackmail info about one of the board members.
posted by CathyG at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2012


I have a few questions:

-- What state are you in?
-- Approximately how many years has this teacher been at this school?
-- You mentioned that you are newly-appointed — how long have you been there?
-- Do you know under what circumstances your predecessor left? (Could this terrible employee have been a factor?)
-- Lastly, do you have the actual authority to fire this employee yourself, or do you need the higher-ups to sign off on it before it is official?

I don't know what kind of special-needs school you work at (learning disabilities? emotional issues? speech-impaired students? etc.), but I wonder if the higher-ups are worried about this long-term employee getting a lawyer and bringing up incidents/mistakes, either in court or in public. Especially if the school treats emotional issues — if you dig deep enough, there will be difficult situations that the staff did not handle in the best way possible. (There almost always are at schools that specifically treat emotional issues.) If I'm an angry delusional irrational teacher who has been fired and now has a lawyer, I would try to make as big a stink as possible about those mistakes.
posted by hypotheticole at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2012


Speaking from very recent experience with this exact situation in a similar setting.

He will not change, any effort put into making that happen is wasted time and energy.

Improvement plans are not only fruitless in a situation like this, but may actually backfire.

I had this same teacher working for me, I made the HUGE mistake of not going along with my AD when she wanted to fire him, thinking that we owed it to him to try and facilitate some change. I went through two years of watching him pretty much laugh off all efforts to help him improve.

Here's the part you want to avoid. After 6 months on a "performance improvement plan" we were about to terminate him (and he saw it coming), when he wrote a letter to the entity that oversees educational programming in our state/county claiming we were breaking the law (not related to his employment, but related to regulations governing how education is provided in our state). Completely fabricated, of course. We didn't let that slow our plans and we terminated him on performance issues. He then turned around and sued the school for violation of the whistle blower law.

We're now embroiled in a complicated and drawn out lawsuit (which we will win, but still a drain on time and money).

One attorney I spoke with stated, "next time, just fire that type of individual, performance improvement plans only create problems like this."

Unless this is a union/contract situation that won't allow it, just fire him, don't give a reason.

And, I agree, if the governing body of your school won't allow you to fire an incompetent, abusive teacher, find a new job.
posted by HuronBob at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]



This summer, when it's time to give the teachers their class assignments for the following year, can you just not give him a class assignment?
Hire someone new, put them in his current class, and tell him something along the lines of "we don't have a spot for you in a classroom right now, so for for the foreseeable future we're going to have you [be a substitute/be a library assistant/supervise the lunch room/by an assistant in the office/etc]. I don't know when this might change, so if you want to be teaching you may want to look elsewhere". If you pick something that's demoralizing enough -i.e.. he's no longer really a teacher, he no longer has any power, he's no longer alone in a classroom to do what he wants - and you suggest that the situation might not change and that he should consider looking elsewhere if he really wants to teach, then maybe he'll quit.


This is a nice idea, but if his salary stays the same, (and I think it would have to, if he has his teaching rights protected with the no-firing business) then he might like this even better. What the hell- I teach school and for the same money, if I could be a library assistant, I would be overjoyed!!

posted by bquarters at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2012


The highest-up administration knows all of this and has made it clear that I need to keep documenting everything, to keep working with him on the improvement plan, to send him to professional training, and to keep informing him that he is not meeting the agreed-upon standards.

There comes a time when educating/training people stops and discipline begins. You're past that point. The only discipline left for this guy is termination. Why does this unspoken "no firing" policy exist? And, if you violate the policy & fire this guy, what are they going to do to you? Does the unspoken "no firing" policy apply to administrators? If it does, why not risk it and fire the guy?

I am in a position similar to yours, working with a clientele that is similar to yours, and not being able to fire people is the worst part of my job. I have a number of people on my staff who should never be allowed to work with the clientele we serve and I can't do a thing about it. I feel for you so much. It's a horrible position to be in. Good luck.
posted by whatideserve at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2012


Someone in my family was a principal back in the day when it was actually very difficult to fire someone. Here's what he'd do. Everyday. And I mean everyday he'd sit in the back of the classroom and observe the teacher. At the end of everyday he'd meet with the teacher and give detailed criticism of what they had done wrong and what they needed to do differently the next day. If they didn't improve this continued, everyday, until they all quit or improved. The vast majority quit.
posted by whoaali at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


The questions about the state this takes place is in our very important. If you're in an at-will employment state you can fire this person without cause once their current contract is up (if they have one at all), assuming you have the authority to do so. If you don't, someone at the school surely does.

Also, bring this up with the school board of trustees. They should not tolerate this shit.
posted by imagineerit at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why would he ever choose to leave? He's got job security no matter how much he screws around, and that's increasingly rare these days. And he's never going to improve, because he knows there are no real consequences for his current behavior. The administration is either fooling themselves or is scared of this guy.

And if he's litigious, he'd probably sue if he got enough evidence that you or the administration might have been trying to manipulate him into leaving. (Then again, he might be the kind of person that constantly threatens to call his lawyer and never follows through.)

Have you explicitly told your higher-ups "we need to fire this guy," or have your meetings been along the lines of "what do we do about him?" If it's the latter, approach them and make the case for actually firing him. If they refuse, resist, or try to steer you in a different direction, ask them why they won't fire him. Get them to speak about this unspoken policy.

I'd be sorely tempted to continue to document everything, find a new job, and then go to the local media. (This may be a terrible idea.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2012


From the OP:
* We can't reassign teachers; there are only 4 in the school. He's been there 7 years, I've been there 6 months.

* My 2 predecessors quit over the same theme, neither of them had the power to make important changes to help the school (they both were incredibly frustrated with their inability to fire this teacher). I appear to have more of a paper-pushing position.

* The previous ed director gave the ultimatum of "it's him or me," with all accompanying files, the school wished her good luck in her job search and she resigned.

* I do observe him almost daily and discuss improvement, he calls it harassment and says he's being singled out because other teachers are not on improvement plans, threatens to sue, and says the administration is idiotic. He is 100 adamant that his work is not only perfect, but far superior to his coworkers.

* Legally, I can't videotape.

* I think my best bet for my own sanity is to talk to the board once again and then if that doesn't work, look for a new job.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2012


With your further information, this is the EXACT same situation I just dealt with, the only difference being that the board of my school had the balls to stand up to his threats and claims of harrassment. If they aren't behind you on this , it is time to quit.
posted by HuronBob at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2012


One idea: Ask your superior if, given how adamant they are about no firings, if it's a worth a day or two of their time. Have *them* sit in on a couple of days of classes. See if that convinces them.

Beyond that, well, I'd say quit. But it's a tough economy, maybe you don't want to quit. So take advantage of the fact that you can't be fired because that isn't done.

Is your superior the ultimate boss? If not, go over his head every time. Complain to the board members, perhaps.

Are your coworkers made uncomfortable by the sexual discussions? Perhaps you can encourage them to jointly threaten to sue.

Are these sexual discussions held where students can hear them? Perhaps that's worth discussing with a law enforcement official.

Or, perhaps, accept that your job is purely administrative and not at all managerial. Tell your teachers and coworkers that you have no managerial powers (you don't) and that all complaints must go to your superior personally.
posted by tyllwin at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"* I think my best bet for my own sanity is to talk to the board once again and then if that doesn't work, look for a new job."

You should also educate yourself a little bit on how these sorts of firings go; talk to your counterparts at some other schools about their seriously problematic employees and gather some anecdata. Firing teachers for non-performance can be a really painful, stressful experience for a board or an administration. Sometimes if you can say to them, "Look, Peer Institution handles firings in this way. Nearby Place does it that way," it'll put a little spine into them. It's even better if the school has a lawyer experienced in school law and school law employment lawsuits who can soothe their fears about the potential lawsuits.

In my experience, if the Administration wants to fire but the Board is resistant, you can talk the Board around. However, if the Board wants to fire but the Administration is resistant, you may be fucked; you may just have to wait for the Board to fire the top administrator to see any change. (Assuming the model where the Board hires and fires the superintendent/headmaster/CEO, and that person hire and fires everyone else.)

Keep banging the drum on the arguments about how this teacher is BAD for your students, BAD for staff morale, and a potential lawsuit waiting to happen anyway. I'd rather get sued for firing a jackass than get sued for letting him stay on staff and having him sexually harass a co-worker or, God forbid, do something actionable to a student.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2012


Honestly, if I were you, I'd probably videotape him screaming at the kids and then email the video to their parents and to your local newspaper with a note explaining that you're not allowed to fire the guy per *Name of Specific Administrator*'s instructions, but that he is regularly emotionally abusing vulnerable children and refuses to stop. If their policy is not to fire anyone, you won't be fired for raising an utter shitstorm about this, so that's what I'd do. But then, I'm a troublemaker.

That's a good way to get fired and sued.

Look, if his job performance is a problem and not correctable, you need to fire him. Embarrassing someone into quitting, or making work miserable to make him quit, is abusive and awful.

You need to spend your time convincing the people above you to change their unofficial policy (whatever that means) and fire him. If they don't, you need to either suck it up or find a new job.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand the no-firing policy. It's amazing the performance you can get out of people when they are completely comfortable and undistracted by unemployment fear. The board's position is not about him, it's about everyone else, and breaking that policy just once can destroy a culture that may be quite special, or has taken some time to create.

So what can you do? What is the pea at the bottom of his mattress? You shouldn't have to care -- you should be able to just axe him -- but you cannot. Thus, you can either fight him (which is feeding him), ignore him (which will probably cause even worse aggression), or figure out WTF the problem is.

It's not just you. It actually does happen often. Some people become integrated into organisations in a way which makes getting rid of them difficult. They then can be intolerable. If you can't get rid of them, and they are intolerable, there's only one option left: shape them.

With a problem student, what would you do? Look for the root of the cause, probably.

You can try the innovative approach for dealing with problem employees. Tell him he is doing well, and go out of your way to continually highlight where he is performing, never saying anything about where he is not.

I forget the book it's from, but there's the example of the trucking fleet that gets a new, more advanced series of trucks in. An older union worker who used to be a star is now making more and more mistakes. The supervisor keeps writing him up, and the man's performance keeps degrading. The worker becomes depressed, leaves early, makes mistakes, and is at great risk of being fired -- which being unionised is difficult and expensive. Basically, it's the last of bad options.

The supervisor then changes the metrics, so that the man can constantly succeed. He praises him for what he is doing right. I can't remember the details. Regardless, the worker's performance started improving, until he was eventually back on top.

If you constantly point out people's flaws, you get a worker who is trying not to fail. In your case, you have a man that cannot fail, thus people keep pointing out his flaws, and he responds in kind. It sounds like a little piece of hell, in fact.

The alternative would be for you to find what he does right. He must do something right. If not, make up something you can measure that he does well. Praise him. Never pay any attention to the negatives. Only reinforce the behaviour you want more of.

Right now, you're reinforcing the negative behaviour. What are you getting more of?
posted by nickrussell at 9:38 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am wondering if you can dock his pay for poor performance. It's an area where I think you would have to tread very carefully.
posted by annsunny at 10:16 AM on May 13, 2012


I think about the only thing you can do is document each behaviour, then maybe get a legal opinion to show how he is violating any laws or human rights (e.g. is it harassment? is it bullying? is he creating a toxic work environment?).

When you go to the lawyer, you don't have to give the name of the school you work for, and you can pay for the opinion yourself. This has the added benefit of showing that you care enough about the school to cough up your own money. Then, if the lawyer does indeed find that the school could be successfully sued because it is leaving the kids at risk, or if the lawyer finds some other cause for concern, you take that legal opinion to the administration and the Board along with the recommendation that he be fired.

If they *continue* to want to protect him, well, that's when you walk. But if you like the job otherwise, it might be worth giving this a try.
posted by purplesludge at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2012


I would attempt to implement a policy where parents are welcomed and encouraged to be a part of their children's education. Is that possible? It could mean random drop-in's from parents and hopefully you can get that to happen. I think he will straighten up really quick because I can't imagine (unless he is a sociopath) that he could do these things in front of the children's parents. As a by product, if he continues the behavior, the parents may have more power to convince the higher ups that a termination plan is in order.
posted by MyMind at 11:02 AM on May 13, 2012


Sexual harassment isn't a crime?
posted by cmoj at 12:04 PM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


their unspoken policy is that they don't fire people

If it's unspoken then the policy may not be exactly what you think it is. For example it might be "We do everything possible, above and beyond what might seem reasonable to most, before we fire anyone". I would guess there must be some reason why they want you to carry on documenting his shortcomings, most likely that the information could be used for disciplinary or dismissal purposes at some point.

If you are newly appointed then you certainly haven't personally been through a long process of trying and failing to improve matters, even if your predecessors have.

Possibly the way to go is to agree with the board that you will try X, Y and Z, and if none of that succeeds and you can't get even minimally adequate performance, then firing him will become an option.

You're certainly not in a position to be making ultimatums. Frankly there aren't many circumstances anywhere in which someone can tell their employer "Do X or I walk" where there is any sensible response for the employer to make other than: "I'm sorry to hear that, goodbye and good luck." If you really do feel you can't work this way then you'll be better off just resigning as gracefully as you can.
posted by philipy at 12:12 PM on May 13, 2012


What cmoj said! If he's making references to his sexual escapades, that's going to be making people highly uncomfortable. I would be reporting that immediately as creating a hostile work environment. There have GOT to be things that can be done about that.
posted by Heretical at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know that your school has an unofficial policy of not firing people. But do you technically have the authority to fire this teacher? Like, if you called him into your office and said, "you're fired," would he be out of a job, or are there other steps to take?

Because if you can fire him but you aren't supposed to, then maybe you just should. What are they going to do, fire you?
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Call me cynical, but when you say he has years' worth of documented failure but the administration is so determined not to fire him that they would rather let both your predecessors go instead, it makes me wonder whether he has some kind of insurance. Have you tried asking around (your supervisors, the teachers you supervise, the janitor, anyone) about how he's been able to keep his job? Considering what you say about how excessively he discusses his personal life, I'd be surprised if he could keep that sort of trump card to himself for very long. And considering what you say about how he antagonizes all his coworkers, to the point where they lock their doors against him, I'd be surprised if anyone were willing to keep secrets for him at this point.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Tell the parents.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:10 PM on May 13, 2012


Life is too short to work for a non-profit with a disfunctional, unaccountable Board. In a perfect world funders would get a clue and force the organization to change or close, but in the real world this can go on for decades.
posted by MattD at 2:15 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


hmmm....it sure sounds like there is a bit of the story missing - not because you left it out, but maybe because it has been kept from you.

When I have been in situations like this in non-profits (but not schools), it always turned out to be some nepotistic variation that was the reason the person was able to keep their job. Or if not nepotism, some odd power that this person has over the board that allows this behavior. It just make no sense that a person who, as described, is disliked by everyone, exhibits behaviors that would get just about anyone fired anywhere and even seems to flaunt all of this, would be able to keep their job.

Something is just not adding up here.
posted by lampshade at 5:13 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look - it's not a good idea to work for people who will not address the legitimate concerns of others regarding an employee and who will let good people walk out the door and keep the bad ones. Sick systems hide all sorts of bullshit and this is the stuff that everyone knows about.

* I think my best bet for my own sanity is to talk to the board once again and then if that doesn't work, look for a new job.

Yes - do this.
posted by mleigh at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you understand how the funding for this school works? Endowment? Constant fundraising? Government contract? Grants? Do the people who control the purse strings know the situation?
do they know that 25% of their salary budget is being wasted? Worse than wasted! You might consider sabotaging the funding to put the directors in a pinch so that it's either him or them.

How do the kids react to being screamed at? Can you have one assessed and recommended to be moved to another class? then another, then another? In your opinion, how bad is this person for the children? Is it worth getting the school closed? Were that to happen, would the money go to some other (new) school, would the kids go to some other (new) school, possibly in the same location as the old school?

Are the parents of the kids in any position to pull the kids out of the school, even for 6 months? It'd be a huge headache for the parents, but would the kids be better off in the long run? Perhaps you could arrange for some parents to be in the hall outside the classroom and overhear the screaming. No students would create a problem for the board.

Could a reporter with a telephoto lens and a directional mic just happen to park across the street from the school? Could a kid just happen to record some of the rants? Find out the laws in your country/state/jurisdiction about recording. Record him constantly, if you have ammo, you can choose whether to use it honorably, whether to leak it, whether to blackmail him into slinking away quietly.

There's a big coverup going on that needs exposing!

What's the composition of the board? When do the board terms expire? Maybe approach each board member separately and try to garner support.

What if the other 3 star teachers went as a unified front and said it's either him or us? And if we go, we're going across the street and asking the parents to send their kids to us.
posted by at at 12:33 AM on May 14, 2012


If you can't strike directly at Toxic Teacher, maybe you can strike at this "no firings" pseudo-policy.

Draft a formal evaluation/disciplinary policies. Periodic formal performance reviews of all teachers. If they're substandard, a limited period in which to improve (with or without some kind of formal "improvement plan," as long as it's written into the policy). Warnings for specific egregious acts which are observed by administration, or substantiated on specific investigation. And firing after a certain number of substandard reviews, or multiple warnings, or whatever. I don't know exactly what the details should look like. The key points are that it's a) a specific, written, policy with clear steps for non-performance b) ending in termination after a finite number of missteps c) applying equally to all teachers. You can probably seek out existing policies from other schools or school districts for examples.

Get it approved by whoever needs to approve it to implement it. When seeking approval, avoid any discussion of Toxic Teacher as much as possible; don't bring up Toxic Teacher yourself, and if the higher-ups do, this is a policy applying equally to all teachers, ensures that your students are getting a quality education, blah blah blah.

If you manage to implement it, you'll have to start everyone with a clean slate at the time you implement it; nothing from before the implementation date will "count" as far as the policy goes. But from that point on you can follow your new policy, to the letter.

Yeah, it kinda sucks for the other three teachers that they'll have to go through the performance reviews, but that's ensuring that the process is rigorously fair, and appears fair to any outside observer. And presuming they get at least "satisfactory" or "average" or whatever term you use, that can be the end of it for them until the next time the periodic review rolls around.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2012


They'd apparently rather have your predecessors and you quit than get this guy fired? They'd rather waste good people than get rid of this guy?

Well, that shows their prorities.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:49 PM on May 14, 2012


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