The Ledger on Friday quoted School Board Member as saying the single stupidest, most clueless thing anyone has said in response the LeRivers fiasco.
Mullenax said he thinks LeRoy has not lost credibility with the public.
“I’ve been in three schools in the last week and I can tell you not one person, principal, secretary, has mentioned this situation,” Mullenax said.
I don’t even know where to begin with the awfulness and lack of basic self-awareness contained in that. I don’t know if it’s an act; or if he’s really that oblivious about his job or his own organization. It doesn’t matter. Outcome is the same.
I’m about to list a parade of comments and email excerpts and messages that “mention” this situation. But first, to demonstrate the ridiculousness of Mullenax’s statement, let use juxtaposition. Let’s talk to Wendy Bradshaw.
If you don’t remember Wendy Bradshaw, you should.
She wrote an extraordinary resignation letter from the Polk School District back in October. That was just four months ago. It went viral and got picked up all over the country. Here’s a piece from Washington Post. And here are a few excerpts of Bradshaw’s letter.
I consider it baffling that telling parents the truth about the harm being done to their children in the public education system is considered an ethical violation of my teaching license, but making their children cry and hate school is not…
..Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place, which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective, but actively harmful to child development and the learning process. I am absolutely willing to back up these statements with literature from the research base, but I doubt it will be asked for… [emphasis mine]
However, I must be honest. This letter is also deeply personal. I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard…
…On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer, in good conscience, be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.
Take a look at the deep moral seriousness, articulation, and wrestling with conscience on display in that letter. Look at the consequences. She left her livelihood, her professional mission. She had to leave behind the kids, which is the ultimate way the system and awful leaders like LeRoy blackmail good teachers into submission. They use their love of the kids as a weapon against them.
Now consider Wendy Bradshaw’s letter next to this.
“I told them it’s childish; we do that in junior high,” Tankson said. “That’s exactly what I said to both of them, that they are acting like junior high people.”
Mr. Rivers’ third allegation alleges that on February 13, 2015, the Superintendent sent Mr. Rivers a series of texts that threatened his employment to his personal phone. Mr. Rivers attached a copy of at least part of the text exchange. The exchange was as follows:
“So very sad, Truly never thought it would come to this. I am so naive will make decisions that best fit what I think is important for Polk. Not truth. Sad. Please get your stellar resume on the street.”
“No ma’am. I plan to work for the district until I retire.”
“As all senior staff you are on an annual contract.
As Superintendent if I believe that your vision doesn’t support mine that is
a serious problem that I will have to address.”
As a unit, LeRivers makes somewhere near $400,000 per year of Wendy Bradshaw’s money. That’s probably about 10 times what Bradshaw made when she resigned. Just for context.
In response to Mullenax’s assertion that no one doubts LeRoy’s credibility, I contacted Wendy Bradshaw. I asked her if LeRoy played a role at all in her resignation and how she wrote it up and posted it. Here’s what Bradshaw said to me, reprinted with her permission.
The overall picture was mostly what I was thinking, but it is definitely much worse in Polk county because of LeRoy. She is the reason that I posted the letter on Facebook, Because I know that she couldn’t care less about teachers or the actual students. With her it is all about test scores and the next step on her ladder. Hopefully this investigation has ruined her ability to continue in public ed, so I anticipate she will be moving to the private sector as soon as her contract is up.
When I look at these juxtapositions, I’m forced to ask:
Do I want people like Wendy Bradshaw to be the face of my community and education system to the outside world? Or do I want people like LeRivers, Dick Mullenax, the rest of our useless School Board, or timid, lazy Marianne Capoziello to represent us?
That’s an obvious answer, wouldn’t you say? If all this sounds pretty personal, that because it is. Everything is personal, especially a child’s interaction with his or her teacher, as Wendy Bradshaw makes very clear. Kathryn LeRoy seems to have wasted all her personal emotional capital on Greg Rivers.
Anyway, I’m very pleased to announce that Wendy Bradshaw and I some other folks are meeting at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday at the Lakeside Village Starbucks. The idea is to begin organizing whatever political pressure campaign will be required to end the LeRoy administration before it can damage the county further. Anyone who wants to help is invited. We’ll also be planning how we can hire better when she’s gone. I know it’s last minute and Super Bowl Sunday. If nobody else comes, fine. But we have to start somewhere.
Dick Mullenax is welcome to attend, too. Maybe I can convince him to begin serving his county’s children for once by opening his ears and doing the job for which I provide him health insurance.
He might start by reading the following compendium of emails, comments, Facebook messages, comments on Facebook posts, etc. on stuff I’ve written or shared in the just last couple days.
I believe each one of these comes from a different person. (Where they were sent to me in confidence, I’ve cut any identifying characteristics.) It took me about 20 minutes to collect. I could find a lot more if scoured my email. And that doesn’t count the face-to-face and phone conversations, of which there are many. But these are probably enough. Take a read, Dick, and see if you can still vouch for LeRoy’s credibility.
My wife is a teacher and there’s a few things that I would like to say about this article and something in the Ledger today.
One is about the Ledger’s article titled, “Berryman Mum on Problem” in February 5, 2015 edition. Mullenax is quoted as saying “I’ve been in three schools in the last week and I can tell you not one person, principal, secretary, has mentioned this situation.” What an asinine comment to make!! My wife and her colleagues know how delusional this Superintendent is along with vindictiveness. Even documentation supports that just through the articles you read. The Principal’s talk about it. Of course no one is going to say anything for fear of retribution. When you make enough to hire attorney’s out of Orlando, two at that, compared to a teacher’s salary and get away with a stunt like this, who would say something. No one likes her! “You never saw anything in the paper when her crony, Bellamy, told a whole staff “there’s the door and don’t let it hit you in the a** on the way out and don’t forget to stop by the liquor store on the way to pick up your unemployment check!”
Next, you are right about the union. A “no confidence” vote needs to be held and I bet she won’t call you back just like she hasn’t some of her members. I bet she won’t stand up to the establishment either. It makes you wonder what my wife is really paying for? A broken contract (lawsuit), the morale is low, a large percentage of existing teachers want to leave and all because of the conditions of education and this county! LeRoy is pushing schools to fundraise, students aren’t being disciplined, and my wife who loved her job now hates going to work everyday because of the this Administration and the union! Even the union isn’t following their own contract!
I retired after 40 years, lost 3 years of DROP, and could not stand the climate. When what I loved becomes a box, it was time to leave the sinking ship.
teachers, parents, community members need to get involved in this. If the school board does not think this has negatively impacted the view regarding LeRoy….they are delusional.
….And Marianne….YOU NEED TO RESPOND TO THIS…..he’s right in what he says!
The lack of discipline at the district level is unacceptable. The reality is that all of us will now take sexual harassment training at an incredible expense. The biggest disappointment is our school board for failing to react sooner. I suspect that the top administration will change this summer when the contract renews and the bureaucratic morass will crumble and shrink. That said, speak out to everyone. We need a board and a superintendent that meets the needs of all.
Don’t quit. I just shared the link with at least 30 people and they are sharing. This is what everyone is saying. #hope #endofthetyranny
All that being said, NOTHING changed except for our insane, impossible workload. PEA is trying to help, but I knew it’d be too late for me. Hunt is a nice man, but I feel he doesn’t want to admit he made a humongous mistake hiring Leroy. There’s a joke circulating that the new mission statement is “we’re working hard – the way LeRoy likes it.” Pretty sickening after I dedicated most of my life (started teaching at age 20) to Polk County Schools.
This superintendent stuff is hysterical and sad and frustrating! I also enjoy your pieces on schools being equitable.
Good read..going to be an interesting few days…still wonder why she wasn’t put on administrative leave as any other employee would have….
Teachers have a zero tolerance for “inappropriate behavior” according to her rules…so…tit for tat…zero tolerance for her!
I’ve witnessed too many of these unprofessional “indiscretions.” I don’t even care if people resign, etc. I just want an honest apology. That’s enough character for me. My kids deserve no less. They’re the ones being shrugged.
The Leroy Administration has destroyed the Polk County School System.
Why should she be given a “different standard” to live up to in her private life as she has imposed on teachers? She should have to go by those same guidelines. If she were a teacher, it would have been suspension without pay and the “she and the Board” would have determined that teacher’s fate…This is a mess and totally ridiculous the monies that this has resulted in costing…This madness needs to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND IT NEEDS TO STOP NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Any person or persons that knew of this and let this carry on “carry on” needs to go as well…clean house. Oh, and note to self, Polk County….have a superintendent that is actually from here for God’s Sakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t mean “good old boy” stuff but we have lots of good people in Polk County!!!!
You are right. The Board needs to get rid of Bridges, Berryman, the Superintendent and the whole Mickey Mouse Club!
My question is “How long is the school board going to allow this embarressment to continue?” After 41 years in the Polk County School System I am embarressed. Parents of school children in Polk County is this what you want leading our schools? And besides your child would be suspeneded for this very behavior. I would say to you if the school board does not act on this they are “negligent”. Let your vote be heard.
This is just simply embarrassing and humiliating for our school district. There is no excuse for this…
No wonder our classrooms are in such a mess. Keep the teachers and children taking meaningless tests and they won’t notice the Superintendent is playing sexting with the maintenance guy, while tax payers pay their enormous salaries.
She has lost all public credibility.
Credibility, earned in drops, lost in buckets….