Friday, November 09, 2007

Literally Unbelievable

First, an intro from Lindsay:
Before I started teaching at B's school, I would listen to the stories that B told about her experiences there, and I would find that they put the listener into a very awkward situation.

She would tell these stories that were literally unbelievable. Rats running through classrooms? Kids peeing in sinks during lockdowns? Verbally abusive administrators? You can't believe that that's actually happening. Here. In this country, which we all had a much higher opinion of ten years ago, when this was happening. The stories were so unbelievable, in fact, that you sort of had to do a gut-check: Is B lying about this? Logic kicks in, and you realize, either B is lying or this stuff is true.
Lindsay is not the only one who has mentioned that. I've had several friends say the same sort of thing, "You know, until I saw where you teach, I really thought you must have been exaggerating." "I wasn't sure you weren't lying." Every one of them changed their mind after seeing the school. So, get ready for one of these stories.

An administrator seems to have disappeared. I'm not sure yet if I mean "disappeared" as in the magic tricks or "disappeared" as in the South American dictators' means of disposing of their opponents.

The short history which I may have explained already is that our K-5 school was broken up at the beginning of this year into two K-3 schools and one 4-5 school, which I like to call a "throwaway school." You'll see why. Next year, there will be two K-4 schools and one school of only 5th grade, and the following just two K-5 schools. The problem with this, of course, is that it's hard to find people - either teachers or administrators - who are serious about their career and want to work at a school that will phase itself out in two years. It's also hard to think that the district will care about this school if it will phase itself out.

So, sure enough, they couldn't find a principal for the 4-5 school, and instead got an assistant principal who, while he was technically under supervision of one of the principals at the other school (I guess that principal was technically principals of two schools, if that's possible), would run the school. According to everyone I talked to, he (the assistant principal whom we'll call "Joe") was doing a great job, keeping order, establishing routines and structure, all the things kids really really need.

Until a month ago when the teachers were told that Joe would be out temporarily because the district had not completed his employment process somehow. I don't remember how exactly the teachers explained it to me, but I remember thinking that it sounded like his TB test paperwork hadn't come or something. Something minor. Except that it's been a month and Joe is not back.

Teachers have tried calling and emailing Joe and he hasn't responded. The district hasn't answered any questions (nor have they appeared overly concerned that a school has been missing their administrator for a month). The principal who "oversees" Joe has only answered by saying that he feels attacked and he can't have a conversation when he feels attacked. Joe seems to have disappeared as effectively as Pinochet's political prisoners.

(OK, maybe that bit of alliteration at the end there was overly dramatic, but seriously, how do you disappear an assistant principal? And why aren't more people concerned??)

Oh, and I forgot. When asked why the administrator is missing, the "downtown" office (main district office) asked if there was a problem at the school. Um, you mean besides the fact that the administrator's been gone for a month, no one knows where he is, and the school is dissolving into chaos? No, no other problem besides that. These people are amazing.

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