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A Tale of Two Junk Taps: Is Seth McKeel as Decisive as Doug Thomas?

November 12th, 2013 7:34 am | by

Oh, where to begin.

First, let me just say that I’m shocked, shocked to learn that a charter school system whose entire business model is based on bullying and exclusion is run by an abusive bully. Who could have predicted? Score one for Townsend. Frankly, I’m on a bit of a roll these days.

You must, must, must read The Ledger’s story about the McKeel system’s internal investigation of Harold Maready’s, ahem, management style.

There are about a million angles to take. But because I’m juvenile, let’s start today with the junk punch, errr, “tap.”

From The Ledger:

…while at a conference in Orlando January 2013, Maready “tapped” teacher Robert Gandy in the groin area and made an explicit comment…

…The report also said Maready admitted to the groin-tapping incident involving Gandy, saying it was horseplay because of his friendship with Gandy and that he had “screwed up.” With about a dozen witnesses, Maready’s tap caused Gandy to double over a little, and Maready “joked” that he “only missed because his (penis) was too small.”

Sound familiar? Remember this from way back in September:

Webb, who started in January, said that within the first two months of her job she witnessed another employee grope Hamrick and grab his genitals, according to Smith’s report. Hamrick returned the grope and made an obscene gesture to the male employee.

Can I just ask what’s up with all the manager/leader types playing/poking each other in the business? What’s driving that? What’s the psychology at work?

I’m pretty sure that if I walked down the street and tapped a woman — or man for that matter — in her or his special parts, I might have a sexual battery arrest in my future. Am I wrong? Is there a junk tap waiver in the law for co-workers or subordinates or special friends?

Anyway, psychology aside, what happens now? Well, it would seem that McKeel has a pretty clear template in the city of Lakeland’s handling of the Tommy Hamrick situation.

In that case, City Manager Doug Thomas’ investigator found that Thomas’ hand-picked HR director had managed to create an unacceptable work environment in his six months on the job. This included an incident of public, work-site dude-groping, which I’ve cited above. Hamrick and another HR leader were allowed to step down with their pensions intact.

I’m sure the achieving, accountability-worshipping, integrity-filled McKeel board will allow Maready to do the same. Surely, they would have long ago fixed this problem, if only they had known about it. Pause. You may chuckle now.

In reality, here’s what state Rep. Seth McKeel — a McKeel board member and from what I understand the true power on the board — had to say when news of the investigation first hit the paper in a little story last week:

Board member Seth McKeel called the situation “unfortunate.”

“Apparently there are some personality conflicts and internal strife resulting from some management decisions the superintendent made,” McKeel said in an email response. “That is certainly unfortunate and from what little I know, a petty distraction.”

Clearly, Seth learned his culture and crisis management skills during all those years as a Lakeland city commissioner. Can’t you just smell the decisiveness and leadership? Fun fact: one of the McKeel board members is Larry Ross, Florida Southern College business professor and author of the LPAC report on the shortcomings of LPD’s culture.

I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence, but Seth and Ross and company should show as much leadership as Doug Thomas. In fact, if I were Doug, I would use McKeel’s years and years of failure to act on Maready’s toxic culture as exhibit #1 for why I should keep my job. See, all the leaders roll this way. What do you expect?

(By the way, from what I understand, the McKeel system did not report this investigation or Maready’s administrative leave to anyone. I rather suspect that it would never have come out had The Ledger not gotten word of it. Can you imagine if the School Board placed Kathryn LeRoy on administrative leave to investigate her — and didn’t tell anyone?)

Look, I’m gloating. It’s not attractive. I know. But this vicious, vampire of a school system has been inflicting harm on children and adults alike for years by preying on people’s social insecurities and worst parental instincts. And it’s been doing it with my money and yours. Harold Maready makes $175K 187K of your money. I’ve tried to fight the culture — the approach to human beings — that Harold Maready’s McKeel practices and represents. Because I hate bullying and I hate cruelty. To fight it, I will sometimes employ bullying and cruelty. So I make no apologies for seeing this as good news. I said a while back that the McKeel system is an enemy of this community. I stand by it 6,000 percent. Maybe, just maybe, the better angels over there can seize this moment and make McKeel something less than an enemy.

But for now, go read the Ledger story. And think for a second about the astonishing amount of crap people are willing to endure just to say their kids don’t go to school with — or teach — the riff-raff.

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3 Responses to “A Tale of Two Junk Taps: Is Seth McKeel as Decisive as Doug Thomas?”

  1. Susan Henry Says:

    I’m reduced to reading about a sexual assault and my first thought is, “Oh, look, they’re giving the kids a break”. I don’t even know what to say anymore. Where do they find these people? Is there a special employment agency for them or something?

  2. Al Avant Says:

    I’ve never heard of this king of stuff going on at any work environment I’ve ever been associated with. 6 Years with Disney, 11 years with Publix, 6 years with Ryder. What kills me is all the people rushing to the defense of the people engaging in this type of childish and outrageous behavior. To say the least.

  3. Al Avant Says:

    kind of stuff….

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