Coweta Teacher Written Up
for Dust Bunnies!
 
 
(All names have been redacted except for those of
Dr. Trotter, Attorney Ramay, and Superintendent Bass.)

February 5, 2007

 

 

 

Blake Bass, Superintendent

Coweta County School System

POB 280

Newnan, GA  30264

 

 

 

Dear Superintendent Bass:

 

     I am in possession of several documents from administrators at Countrywide High School that deal with the job performance of Mr. Thomas Banks, a science teacher there.  These documents, I believe, detail a consistent pattern of mistreatment toward Mr. Banks by these supervisors who, apparently, have decided to harass him with subjective nit-picky criticisms.  The major culprit in this, Assistant Principal Marilu Dryer, consistently issues Mr. Banks a “Letter of Concern” whenever he does not submit a lesson plan by 8 a.m. when, he states, a previous agreement reached between them had stipulated submission by 10 a.m.  In regards to these lesson plans, Mr. Banks submits plans for his General Biology class, but has occasionally been tardy with those for his Advanced Placement Biology class.  He explains his position about this in an e-mail to Assistant Principal Dryer on January 8, 2007:  “I am teaching on extended day, as I am sure you are aware, and my time is even more precious than ever.  The issue is not whether I am completing lesson plans, because I certainly do.  I will submit that after 8 years of teaching Biology, the lesson plans that I prepare for myself are much less detailed than what you require of me.  I see no benefit whatsoever in going back and . . . detailing my plans for your benefit for my Advanced Placement class.”  It would appear that Assistant Principal Dryer is unconcerned about Mr. Banks’ lack of adequate planning time to produce the “detailed” plans she so desires.  She issued “Letters of Concern” about the lesson plans on October 16, October 24, and November 28, 2006, citing, in each instance, a State law that she apparently intends to use to justify her proposition that Mr. Banks does not follow school regulations:  “House Bill 1187 stipulates that you abide by school policies and procedure.”  (Assistant Principal Stiller keeps quoting “House Bill 1187” as if the bill is still languishing in the House Education Committee.  Some bills actually become laws, e.g., O.C.G.A. 20-2-131[5] and O.C.G.A. 20-2-132[1].  The former makes one of the objectives and purposes of the Quality Basic Education Act the attainment of “teaching [as] an attractive and rewarding profession in order to attract, retain, and fully utilize highly competent personnel in all public schools of the state[.]”  The latter affirms one of the primary goals of the Act to be the “substantial reduction in the number of teachers who leave the teaching profession for reasons of job dissatisfaction[.]”  It appears that Assistant Principal Dryer should be focusing more on these two statutes rather than “House Bill 1187.”  It certainly appears that she has made teaching “unattractive and unrewarding” to Mr. Banks and that she has contributed greatly to his “job dissatisfaction.”)  She states in the November 28 “Letter of Concern” that the two of them will meet with Principal Mark Bottoms “anytime your plans are not turned in on time[,]” which, in an e-mail of December 13, 2006, she demands occur “on Friday, December 15th at 8:45 am [sic].”  It goes without saying that all these “Letters of Concern” about “detailed lesson plans” are hardly conducive to creating a non-hostile working environment for Mr. Banks. 

 

     Assistant Principal Dryer began the school year with a September 28, 2006, letter to Mr. Banks in which she denigrates him for alleged problems from the previous school year.  She writes:  “We have had at least one conversation this year concerning classroom management issues.  This is a concern that has carried over from last year.  . . . It has now come to my attention that holes have been punched in the walls of your classroom.  This type of management is unacceptable.”  First, if Assistant Principal Dryer truly has “a concern that has carried over from last year” about Mr. Banks’ “classroom management,” then why was Mr. Banks moved from the school building into a trailer?  Is it logical to believe that a teacher considered poor at “classroom management” inside the building where he is nearer to administrators and security personnel would be better at “classroom management” further from those administrators and security personnel?  From my decades of experience as a teacher, as an administrator, and as a teacher’s advocate, I can say with authority that students behave much worse in trailers than they do inside classrooms within the building.  It seems that Countrywide’s administration set up Mr. Banks for failure in “classroom management” on purpose.  Second, why is Mr. Banks responsible for “holes [that] have been punched in the walls” of his classroom?  (I note with interest that Assistant Principal Dryer opts to term it “classroom” rather than “trailer.”  Does that better suit her apparent purpose of punching holes in Mr. Banks’ professional status?)  I would suggest that Assistant Dryer would have been more professional in her letter had she stated her willingness to punish the students who punched the holes rather than Mr. Banks for having those hole-punching students in his classes; however, as I have previously indicated, it would appear that Assistant Principal Dryer would rather denigrate Mr. Banks than assist him in “classroom management” issues.

 

     At some point after October 4, 2006, Assistant Principal Dryer promulgated an undated “Letter of Concern” to Mr. Banks in which she indicated eight areas of “concerns with . . . classroom management skills” and five “changes” to improve them.  Two of the eight “concerns,” although specified as dealing with “classroom management skills” do not concern such “skills.”  One of these states:  “The room is cluttered and disorganized.  In addition, trash is apparent throughout the room [sic]”  Assistant Principal Dryer’s “concern” is based on an observation that she conducted of Mr. Banks’ classroom during the last period of the day during first semester when he was not the only teacher to meet classes in the trailer.  Was the other teacher issued a “Letter of Concern” for the trashiness and clutter of the trailer, and why should Mr. Banks be held responsible for cleaning up after another teacher’s class?  The other “concern” not dealing with “classroom management skills” states, “Your language, tone and body language were disrespectful when attendance called into your office [sic] the 2nd time [sic].”  Must I point out that, since Mr. Banks is a teacher who is considered poor at “classroom management,” why is the attendance office disturbing his “classroom management” during his instructional delivery?  Each administrative disruption yields student distraction by taking Mr. Banks off task.  Again, it would appear Countrywide’s administration wants to cause Mr. Banks to have poor “classroom management.”  The “concern” in its own right appears absurd.  How can a person’s “body language” be “disrespectful” to a disembodied voice over an intercom?  Besides, by what means did Assistant Principal Dryer determine that Mr. Banks’ “language, tone and body language were disrespectful”?  She would need to indicate the particular machine she used to determine this disrespect because Mr. Banks did not see her in possession of any device.  Was it invisible?  Had it been surgically inserted into Assistant Principal Dryer’s brain so that she will instantaneously know whether someone she supervises displays disrespect in “language, tone and body language”?  I assert, without the aid of a brain implant, that the “language” and “tone” of her undated “Letter of Concern” show disrespect to Mr. Banks as a professional.

 

     Pertaining to the other six “concerns” that do relate to “classroom management,” I find that Assistant Principal Dryer has apparently chosen to criticize Mr. Banks for the sake of the criticism itself.  One “concern” states, “It was necessary for you to repeat the same directions continually to the students.”  Why is that a “concern”?  Teachers often have to repeat directions to students for clear understanding.  Why is Mr. Banks being faulted for students not being able to comprehend the directions to an assignment given to them at the end of the day in a class held in a trailer?  The acoustics in such a setting does not allow for unhindered hearing, while the time of the day does allow for distraction.  The students are ready to go home.  A second “concern” states, “The students were not supervised while completing the assignment.”  What a laughable “concern.”  Of course the students were supervised.  Mr. Banks was in the trailer with them, as Assistant Principal Dryer previously mentioned, repeating instructions for them to follow.  That indicates supervision.  A third “concern” states, “You [Mr. Banks] were working on an unrelated task when students were in groups [sic]”  Assistant Principal Dryer, in notes that she made available to Mr. Banks after her observation, writes:  “Students were working in groups on a timeline of evolution.  Mr. Banks was cleaning some type of grid/screen.”  This “grid/screen” was the device by which Mr. Banks had presented the students with the “timeline of evolution” activity.  Of course he would clean it so that he could use it again.  How was this “an unrelated task”?  Mr. Banks has limited planning opportunities during the day, so, while his students were completing the assignment, he completed a task necessary for instructional delivery in quite a timely manner.  A fourth “concern” states, “Students are comfortable going behind your desk.”  The implication here is that confidentiality of information is somehow lost through this “comfort.”  Just “going behind” a teacher’s desk hardly constitutes a breach of confidentiality.  The class is located in a trailer.  Mr. Banks’ instructional delivery was based on students working in groups.  In order to form the groups, the students had to walk around the trailer.  That some of them inadvertently walked behind his desk indicates only that they had to walk behind his desk to get to where they were going.  Why would Assistant Principal Dryer make this innocuous enterprise into something warranting a “Letter of Concern” unless she wanted to pad her “Letter of Concern” to make Mr. Banks appear to be poor at “classroom management”? 

 

     A fifth “concern” states, “You did not account for all of your students on a regular basis [sic]”  This also is nonsensical.  Of course Mr. Banks accounted for all of his students.  He took attendance and even was forced to deal with the attendance office twice via the intercom.  In the notes Assistant Principal Dryer provided Mr. Banks after her observation, she writes:  “The groups in back were not supervised on a regular basis.  Mr. Banks walked out the back door at 2:43 pm [sic] and again at 3:04 pm [sic]; [sic] but only saw one group.  He did notice one person walking around the corner towards the back group, but never observed the group working.”  Even the notes are nonsensical.  How can Assistant Principal Dryer confidently state that Mr. Banks “never observed the group working” when she states with confidence that he “did notice one person walking” near the group?  Does she have another brain implant that allows her to acquire this subjective information in a non-objective manner?  How can she state that the “groups in back were not supervised on a regular basis” and then cite two specific times, “2:43” p.m. and “3:04” p.m., when Mr. Banks actively supervised them?  I would think that Assistant Principal Dryer has too much time on her hands to sit in someone’s classroom and actually notate such specific times for actions that she believes Mr. Banks did not do.  Perhaps she should have her brain implant recalibrated. 

 

     The sixth “concern” states, “Students are comfortable eating and drinking in class [sic]”  Assistant Principal Dryer’s observation occurred from 2:40 p.m. until 3:20 p.m. in Mr. Banks’ trailer after lunch had been served inside the building.  What I would point out is that students seem comfortable bringing food from inside the building out to the trailer.  Why is Countrywide’s administration allowing this to occur?  Why is it Mr. Banks’ problem that Countrywide’s administration cannot prevent students from purchasing drinks and snacks inside the building and then walking past all number of adults, presumably in the hallways of the building for supervisory purposes, to get to a trailer?  I would think that Mr. Banks made an educated decision in terms of his “classroom management” not to hassle with students about these snacks and drinks in preference to spending the time actually teaching them about biology.  If Countrywide’s administration is so concerned about this “eating and drinking in class,” then it should prevent the students from being able to obtain the drinks and snacks from vending machines inside the building.  By doing so, teachers like Mr. Banks, who are deemed to be lacking in “classroom management skills,” would not have to be subjected to problems related to “eating and drinking in class.”  That would then be an instance where administrators were proactive in relation to “classroom management” instead of being reactive and prohibitive.

 

     After providing her litany of eight “concerns,” Assistant Principal Dryer offers “changes” that she asserts will “maximize class time and thus increase student learning.”  I assert that her “changes” are merely a straitjacket in which she intends to constrain Mr. Banks’ ability to exert “classroom management” and to offer methods of instructional delivery that are more amenable to his particular teaching style.  All things do not work the same for all people.  One “change” involves specificity of a “project given to students,” a “change” that Mr. Banks has no problem agreeing to because it is something that he already does with a project, namely, offer “clear, written directions,” provide a rubric for “expectations and grading,” give the entire class the assignment prior to breaking the class into groups, define each group member’s role “when appropriate,” and have students “stay in assigned groups.”  Another “change” Assistant Principal Dryer demanded involved “supervision of students,” which she believes should be “constant.”  She writes:  “If students are spread out due to group work, they need to be in your view.  Your full attention is needed to monitor students in this situation.  You need to check to make sure you can account for all students on a regular basis.”  Unless a teacher has some special optical device implanted in his/her brain, as Assistant Principal Dryer apparently has, no teacher will be able to have each and every student in constant view all the time during a class.  That would preclude the teacher’s ability ever to write on the board or go to a certain student’s desk for individual assistance.  If Assistant Principal Dryer actually wants improvement in Mr. Banks’ “classroom management,” then she should offer sensible “changes” for him to implement.  Instead, in order to be seen as in compliance with Assistant Principal Dryer’s dictates, Mr. Banks will no longer be able to involve his students in collaborative learning activities.  He writes:  “Given that my classroom situation places me in a trailer, my use of group work and group assignments will no longer be utilized.  Since, that all students need to be monitored and in my view at all times, I can no longer ensure those criteria can be met, so I cannot use this as a teaching technique and a learner tool in my classroom.”  Assistant Principal Dryer has effectively undermined Mr. Banks’ ability to involve his students in collaborative learning, an instructional delivery model that many educators espouse as being the best way for students to acquire knowledge. 

 

     A third “change” involves “some new class rules and expectations.”  Assistant Principal Dryer enumerates four of these in a non-parallel list:  “No student is to be behind your desk.  Absolutely no eating or drinking will be allowed in class [sic]  Students will clean their desk areas before leaving [sic]  You need some type of signal/word etc. [sic] in order to get everyone’s attention when reviewing directions or bringing the class back together [sic]”  Assistant Principal Dryer’s list seems less to be directed at student behavior and more at the teacher’s.  If, for instance, she were to enter his trailer and see a student behind Mr. Banks’ desk speaking with Mr. Banks, would that constitute a violation of her dictate, and would Mr. Banks then receive another “Letter of Concern”?  If, for instance, she were to enter his trailer and see a student surreptitiously eating or drinking something that had been concealed from Mr. Banks or that Mr. Banks had requested be discarded and which had not been discarded, would that constitute a violation of her dictate, and would Mr. Banks then receive another “Letter of Concern”?  Are students allowed to be in possession of a drink or a snack as long as they are not partaking of the drink or snack, or would the mere possession of the items that were purchased inside the building during the school day be enough to cause Assistant Principal Dryer to write a “Letter of Concern”?  If, for instance, she were to enter his trailer and see a wadded up piece of paper on the floor beneath the third desk in the fifth row at “2:43 pm” [sic], would that constitute a violation of her dictate, and would Mr. Banks then receive another “Letter of Concern”?  As a professional courtesy, would Assistant Principal Dryer be kind enough to specify at what level Mr. Banks’ trailer is “clean” so that there is no misunderstanding?  Are the edges from a sheet of composition book paper that have fallen to the floor enough for Assistant Principal Dryer to create another “Letter of Concern”? 

 

     It is the fourth “new class rule” that I find indicative of Assistant Principal Dryer’s mindset.  She would have Mr. Banks decide upon “some type of signal/word etc.” [sic] that would cue the students to be attentive, and Mr. Banks would use that “signal/word etc.” [sic] exclusively for the purpose of “classroom management.”  Let us suppose that the “signal/word etc.” [sic] that Mr. Banks decides to use is “pomegranate” and that Assistant Principal Dryer enters and hears him say, “Now, class, be quiet and listen to me.”  Would she then write another “Letter of Concern” because he did not use “pomegranate” to have the class become attentive?  Assistant Principal Dryer apparently views students as animals that should be conditioned to respond to a particular cue rather than as human beings, which they are, albeit young ones, who should be led away from certain actions via logical train of thought to act according to well-established rules of social etiquette that they learn through actual interaction with others and not in a Skinner box.  Does Assistant Principal Dryer really expect the students at Countrywide to salivate upon hearing the word “pomegranate”?  Such Pavlovian mind control reeks of Big Brother and could be injurious to these young people’s psychosocial development.  For the rest of their lives, they might stop talking and become erect and rigid upon hearing “pomegranate,” something that could cause them great embarrassment in a grocery store or restaurant or that could cause them to wreck should they hear it on the radio while driving.  (I will not belabor the point, but it would appear that Assistant Principal Dryer is attempting to engage in the very same conditioning of Mr. Banks, which is an improper extension of her supervisory role.)

 

     Mr. Banks, in a response to Assistant Principal Skinner’s “new class rules and expectations,” writes:  “I have provided all students with a new list of rules for my classroom.  In the past I spent the better part of a day during the first week of school discussing with my students what rules must be in place to create and maintain a respectful and safe learning environment.  That strategy is apparently too much to expect . . . in our building, so a new list was provided.  The rules are to be in each student’s lecture notebook everyday to ensure that strict adherence to these rules are maintained.”  What Mr. Banks implies is something I will flatly state, that Assistant Principal Dryer’s admonition to incorporate these “new class rules and expectations” is an apparent admission that Countrywide’s original rules for student behavior, which, I assume, were delineated for the student body at the beginning of the school year, have failed and that, rather than hold the students’ responsible for their actions, Countrywide’s administration holds teachers accountable for perceived student failure to obey.  In forcing Mr. Banks to provide his classes several weeks into the new semester with a new set of rules to follow actually undermines Mr. Banks’ ability to have effective “classroom management.”  The students could view Mr. Banks’ initial issuance of class rules as something he did incorrectly and, thus, view him as ineffective at “classroom management.”  All the students might have to do would be to violate the new rules and, quite possibly, an even newer set of rules would then be issued.  The culmination of all this would then be less time spent on teaching and more time spent on enforcement of the “new class rules and expectations.”

 

     Assistant Principal Dryer’s fourth “change” deals with what I would characterize as her extrasensory perception.  She writes:  “Your language, tone and body language directed at your peers and administrators must demonstrate respect.  This is the second discussion we have had on this issue.”  First, let me point out that simply stating that something has occurred does not necessarily mean that it has occurred.  Apparently, Assistant Principal Dryer is possessed of a psychic awareness of such an extreme dimension that she is able to ascertain a man’s disrespect through mere observation of his “language, tone and body language.”  Perhaps she should contact the Vegas Mafia.  If she were able to translate her apparently rare gift into accurately stating the suit of a hidden playing card, she just might earn a lot of cash.  Or, if she does indeed have a brain implant, would she tell me where she obtained it and who conducted the operation so that I might have one installed, too?  I would love to be able to ascertain a person’s mood, feelings, and thoughts simply by looking at them.  Second, Assistant Principal Dryer should practice what she preaches.  Her “change” reads as if it is being rudely presented.  The word “must” betrays this rudeness, and it underscores my previous depiction of her as being some proponent of mind control.  Is Orwell’s 1984 her Bible?  Does she truly perceive herself as a member of the Thought Police at Countrywide?  Whatever her perception of herself is, it should not cause her to endeavor to de-humanize those over whom she has supervision.  Teachers are thinking, feeling beings, not remote-controlled robots.  It amazes me that Mr. Banks is able to function, much less teach, under such apparently hostile working conditions, but, admirably, he does. 

 

     The last “change” deals with the cleanliness of the trailer.  Assistant Principal Dryer writes:  “Clean your classroom thoroughly.”  She specifies the areas for cleaning as the bookcases, the desk, the television cart, and the “shelf at the entrance of your room.”  (Read “trailer” for “room.”)  She particularly dislikes “piles of papers,” which, Mr. Banks writes me, are there because he is housed in “a trailer with very little storage space and even fewer spaces to conduct labs or organize materials.”  Besides, to what degree should Mr. Banks interpret “thoroughly”?  In order to be thorough, should he dust daily?  Is one dust bunny a no-no?  Are two?  Is there a particular cleaning utensil Assistant Principal Dryer would prefer be used?  Would Mr. Banks be in violation of this “change” were he to use a broom made of straw?  If Assistant Principal Dryer were to see him cleaning his classroom “thoroughly,” would she then issue a “Letter of Concern” because he had failed to have the students clean up before leaving?  How much of the instructional time of each class should be given over to this thorough cleaning of the room, or should Mr. Banks wait until after school when he could be grading tests or preparing “detailed lesson plans” to clean the room thoroughly?  Is there a custodial staff at Countrywide?  If so, are they expected to do any cleaning, or are the trailers off limits to the custodians?  Not only is Assistant Principal an apparent control freak, but she is an apparent neat freak, too.

 

     Assistant Principal Dryer demands that Mr. Banks provide her with documentation of the “changes” that he will affect.  She writes:  “I need a written plan of action from you no later than Wednesday, October 11th.  As part of this plan, please turn in detailed lesson plans to me on a weekly basis.  These plans should be turned in no later than the Friday proceeding the week the plan is used.  The first plans are due on Friday, October 13th [sic] for the week of October 16th.  The purpose of this is to insure that you have the materials and guidelines necessary for a successful lesson.”  First, how can Mr. Banks provide “a written plan of action” by October 11, and concurrently submit plans “on a weekly basis.”  That is illogical, but, in light of Assistant Principal Dryer’s apparently superhuman mental capacity, maybe I just am missing her logic.  Second, from where did Assistant Principal Dryer obtain the arbitrary date of October 11?  Does it have special psychic importance to her?  I would think that Mr. Banks’ receipt of the undated “Letter of Concern” should be enough for one with such apparently exalted psychic ability, but maybe this is another example of her predisposition toward the use of operant conditioning for mind control.  Or, maybe it is just a sad example of supervisory overkill for the sake of making the supervisor feel important.  Third, most people with brains, but perhaps not those with brain implants, realize that “detailed lesson plans” are an exercise in futility.  All the time and effort spent in detailing what will be taught on any given day does not ensure that a teacher will “have the materials and guidelines necessary for a successful lesson.”  Just by writing it down hardly means that the materials will be at hand or that the guidelines will guarantee success.  Assistant Principal Dryer herself indicated how such a “detailed lesson plan” can be subverted by attendance office personnel calling into Mr. Banks’ room not once but twice during his lesson.  This interruption was apparently so subversive to “a successful lesson” that Assistant Principal Dryer used it to rate Mr. Banks’ negatively for her perception of his “disrespect” toward the disembodied voice on the intercom.  How did the “detailed lesson plan” help either Mr. Banks teach more effectively or his students learn more expeditiously?  As I see it, the “detailed lesson plan” apparently serves Assistant Principal Dryer as a document that she can use to generate negative commentary about Mr. Banks should he not be specifically doing what is specified on a specific date and time on the “detailed lesson plan.”  In any event, Mr. Banks failed to respond to Assistant Principal Dryer according to the arbitrary nature of her timeline, and she sent out another “Letter of Concern” on October 16, 2006, in which she writes:  “As of today, I have received neither your written plan for improvement which was due on Wednesday, October 11th [sic] nor your detailed lesson plans for this week which was due on Friday [sic] October 13th.”  She then cites House Bill 1187, as is her habit, apparently to exert a threat in her seemingly never-ending efforts at coercion and mind control over Mr. Banks.  (He submitted the requested document on October 18, 2006, in, I assert, a timely manner after he had had ample time to produce a coherent, worthwhile response to Assistant Principal Dryer’s somewhat incomprehensible and apparently worthless “Letter of Concern.”)

 

    Now, a new semester has begun, and Assistant Principal Dryer, apparently not content to show Mr. Banks the professional courtesy that she demands that he “must” show her, dashes off a “Summary of Expectations,” dated January 2, 2007, in which she restates all of what I have discussed previously, namely, classroom cleanliness, “classroom management,” and “detailed lesson plans.”  Now, although she has produced numerous “Letters of Concern” for Mr. Banks’ failure to submit “detailed lesson plans” by a certain point that changed several times during the first semester, Assistant Principal Dryer specifies that he must submit the plans “no later than 8 am [sic] on Monday.”  For minds that do not exist in the rarefied ether that Assistant Principal Dryer’s apparently does, this inconsistency in dates for the submission of “detailed lesson plans” is confusing.  What this does indicate is that the dates/times for submission of these plans are indeed arbitrary and meaningless.  Why else would Assistant Principal Dryer continue to change them at whim?  That means, therefore, that all “Letters of Concern” that she promulgated dealing with Mr. Banks’ alleged failure to submit the plans in a timely manner should be rescinded.  It would appear that Assistant Principal Dryer really does not know when she wants to receive the “detailed lesson plans,” and her not knowing when she wants receipt of them consequently causes me to wonder whether she really knows what she wants “detailed” in them.  At the least, Assistant Principal Dryer needs some retraining on the value of consistent expectations for staff members.  Is it not hypocritical for her to demand strict adherence to her apparently whimsical dictates but not hold herself to the same standards in relation to those she supervises?

 

     In that “Summary of Expectations,” Assistant Principal Dryer includes a potpourri called “Other Issues.”  She writes:  “Your choice of tone, language, and conduct must remain professional at all times.  The use of a disrespectful tone, inappropriate language (including the use of profanity) and/or conduct or body language that conveys disdain or disrespect towards others will not be tolerated.”  Again, the hypocrisy of this is stunning.  It would appear that Assistant Principal Dryer is able to spew her invective at will based solely on her apparently skewed view of reality, but Mr. Banks must just sit back and accept her written harangue without question.  Since Mr. Banks is contractually obligated to work with Assistant Principal Dryer at Countrywide, he has remained professional and polite – despite Assistant Principal Dryer’s apparent statements/implications to the contrary.  I, however, do not have to still my pen, and I am outraged at Assistant Principal Dryer’s moxie.  She has written about this alleged disrespectful “language, tone and body language” in the undated “Letter of Concern” and returns to it here with a new charge, “the use of profanity.”  I assume that this allegation refers to the document promulgated by Assistant Principal Lavratoria Fudge on November 29, 2006, referenced “Allegation of misconduct by using profanity in the classroom.”  On the previous day, Assistant Principal Fudge had e-mailed Mr. Banks thusly:  “Please stop by my office when you get a chance today.  I need to speak with you about [name redacted].  She alleges you are using profanity when you address the class.”  Mr. Banks responded within an hour:  “I assure you that I do not use any profanity in my classroom and will gladly meet with you to address the specifics of this allegation.”  According to Assistant Principal Fudge’s subsequent letter, she met with Mr. Banks on November 29, 2006, at 8:30 a.m., and by the end of that day she had “also conferred with other members of the administrative team about a history of the use of profanity by you in the classroom” and had “interviewed five other students” whom she selected because they have “good grades” and no “discipline issues.”  I am outraged over the actions of Assistant Principal Fudge, who, I assert, took a questionable student report about Mr. Banks’ supposed use of profanity, and turned it into a witch-hunt. 

 

     The particular student who complained “spoke specifically about a recent incident that involved another student and his request to drink his orange juice in the classroom.”  What is telling is that the student who allegedly was cursed did not make the complaint and was not interviewed by Assistant Principal Fudge.  What was the motivation of the child, [name redacted], for being this informant?  Could it be that she was retaliating against Mr. Banks for some perceived slight against her?  Assistant Principal Fudge provides no insight into this, and I would assert that, legally, such a charge would be thrown out of court were the actual injured party unwilling to cooperate and uninvolved in the investigation.  That makes no sense.  I also find it beyond the pale that Assistant Principal Fudge selected students to interview about Mr. Banks’ alleged use of profanity in his fourth period Biology course not only from that class but from his other ones, too.  Why would she do that?  That certainly broadens the scope of her investigation and indicates that she believed what the student had said.  Why else would Assistant Principal Fudge expand her investigation, and how could she not realize that by doing so would cause the students whom she interviewed to spread the word around that Mr. Banks was being investigated for using profanity, thus weakening his authority in his classes?  For a teacher who Countrywide’s administration believes to be weak at “classroom management,” it would seem that said administration is endeavoring to hurt the teacher rather than help him.  That Assistant Principal Fudge would then talk with the other administrators “about a history of the use of profanity by you [Mr. Banks] in the classroom” underscores that point.  She already had formed her opinion of Mr. Banks’ guilt.  The phrase “history of the use of profanity” clearly indicates that because, as Assistant Principal Fudge states, there existed only one other instance of such an allegation, and it came from Assistant Principal Dryer:  “I found that there was another allegation documented this year.  The earlier allegation was initiated by a written parental complaint.  Ms. Marilu Dryer, assistant principal, investigated the allegations [sic].  At the conclusion of her investigation, she verbally recommended that you refrain from using profanity in the class setting.”  I cannot believe that a supposedly educated professional working in a supervisory role at a high school would put forth such guff.  Just because someone alleges something does not make it true.  Assistant Principal Fudge’s assertion that “another allegation [was] documented this year” falls apart logically when she later writes that the investigator of that allegation, Assistant Principal Dryer, “verbally recommended that you [Mr. Banks] refrain from using profanity in the class setting.”  Given Assistant Principal Dryer’s predilection for issuance of a “Letter of Concern” each and every time Mr. Banks was late submitting “detailed lesson plans” according to Assistant Principal Dryer’s ever-changing, arbitrary schedule, I can reasonably assume that, had she indeed determined that Mr. Banks had used profanity, she would have zapped him with a stinging “Letter of Concern.”  She did not; therefore, her conclusion was that the allegation could not be substantiated.

 

     Assistant Principal Fudge, however, believes that speaking with five “reliable students” of her choosing, not including the student whom the snitching student had said Mr. Banks cursed, was enough for her to label Mr. Banks as a user of profanity.  She writes:  “It is my determination that the allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.”  Using that type of reasoning, I could state that I have spoken with five teachers at Countrywide to determine the veracity of the Science Department Chair’s statement to me that Assistant Principal Fudge was going to create negative documentation about Mr. Banks because he is white.  (She is African-American.)  I could state that all five teachers confirmed that they had heard Assistant Principal Fudge make such derogatory comments about Mr. Banks’ race, and, by stating this, I could then assert that Assistant Principal Fudge is a racist and demand that action be taken against her.  How frightening that such a scenario could ensue from such logic as Assistant Principal Fudge used to determine her substantiation of the allegation against Mr. Banks.  In a court of law, hearsay is not allowed as evidence, and, with that in mind, I demand that Assistant Principal Fudge produce a tape recording of Mr. Banks’ alleged use of profanity or, since she will apparently be unable to do so, immediately rescind the letter of November 29, 2006, and issue a formal apology to Mr. Banks for having treated him so libelously.  Recall that Mr. Banks, upon being confronted with the allegation in an e-mail, categorically denied the allegation.  Based solely on the statements of students whom she chose and without allowing Mr. Banks the right of refutation, Assistant Principal Fudge has, therefore, called him a liar.  In effect, she served as judge, jury, and executioner – all while trampling on Mr. Banks’ legal rights. 

 

     I urge you to put a stop to this.  Mr. Banks deserves to be treated with professional respect as an educator and personal respect as a human.  All negative documentation from these individuals concerning Mr. Banks’ performance as a teacher at Countrywide should be purged, and his apparent mistreatment by Countrywide’s administration should cease and desist.  I await your timely response to this letter.        

 

                                                                        Respectfully,

 

 

 

                                                                        John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.

 

JRAT/gy

 

 

Copy:  Mr. Thomas Banks

          Mr. J. Anderson Ramay, Jr., Esq., MACE

          Mr. Mark Bottoms, Principal

          Members, Board of Education

HomeHighlightsLion's Roar!MACE TVLegalThe "NI" ListPicketsNewsletterJoin Now!PeopleBrochureTestimonialsLion's Den!ArchiveMembershipLinks