My purpose is to set the record straight on my retirement. I had initially planned to return to SSD for one more year. I did not retire to “play with my grandkids” as was falsely reported in a recent school board meeting. I left SSD because of a hostile work environment for selected faculty and staff and I believe this hostile work environment was directed by the administration. Most of the faculty does not trust this administration and for good reason. The administration leads through bullying, intimidation and in some cases through humiliation. I know this from first-hand experience.
On numerous occasions teachers were summoned to the office during the middle of a class then they were read a letter by the principal alleging they were guilty of willful insubordination and that their jobs were in jeopardy. The teacher then returned to their class carrying the letter. Most of the teachers were upset and every student in those classes knew what had just happened. As a retired Army Officer, I understand what insubordination means. None of these teachers, to include me, were guilty of willful insubordination nor did we deserve the blatant disrespect we were afforded.
The problem at SSD is that the school is led by a superintendent that was removed from the elementary classroom because of an alleged altercation with another teacher. She was moved to a made-up position in the administration and consolidated power doing the work of lazy superintendents looking to retire. She was selected as superintendent by a tone-deaf school board during a search process that was tainted by the presence of the retiring superintendent. This same school board recently told the superintendent that she did not have the right personality or temperament for the job after giving her a two-year extension on her contract.
Recently I attended a retirement ceremony of a good friend of mine at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The guest speaker spoke of honor, loyalty, character, integrity and courage. I find none of these characteristics in the administration of SSD. To support my judgement, I will provide one of many examples. There was a teacher last year that was targeted by the administration throughout the year. The teacher was given a letter of no rehire in May. The teacher contacted an attorney who threatened the school with legal action in support of the teacher. The administration quickly backed down and gave the teacher a glowing letter of recommendation in exchange for her resignation. How can you go from a no rehire to a letter of recommendation in two weeks? I’ll tell you how, we have a dishonest administration with absolutely no integrity. They think the ends justify the means. As a side note, this teacher received excellent marks in her formal classroom evaluation. The story continues. We find out this summer that the teacher was targeted to open the teaching position for a relative of the superintendent.
In conclusion, the purpose of this letter is two-fold. First, it is an attempt on my part to atone for the many times I’ve stood silent and watched my colleagues get abused. I publicly apologize to them for not doing the right thing. Secondly, I hope this serves as a wakeup call to the community. The work climate at SSD is toxic. I do not believe the school will survive without major changes in the administration. The number of staff and faculty departing the past two years is staggering for a school the size of Shirley and I think that in itself speaks volumes.
Brian K. Crotts
Lieutenant Colonel, Army (Retired)