In Part 4 of Student Cheating, I discussed how upset I was over the principal's handling of the situation of the dishonest student. What follows is how I dealt with my distress.
After mulling over how to come to terms with having been treated so unprofessionally, I decided to write a letter to the principal, which essentially turned out to be a 1000 word memo assessing her handling of the unhappy parents. The reason I didn’t make an appointment to see her was my tendency to get emotional at times; I really didn’t want my anger to supplant my logic.
Although much of what I wrote is lost to memory now, I do recall acknowledging that while she had the authority to act as she had, I stated that I had never been treated so unprofessionally in my career; I pointed out that in taking the expedient route, she had undermined me professionally, since the students I taught would be well aware of what had transpired. Clearly student respect for my classroom authority would now be in jeopardy.
As well, I said that her actions sent an inappropriate message to the students. The education system is often criticized for not preparing students for ‘the real world.’ I had tried to hold the student accountable for his deception, teaching him that there are consequences for one’s actions; she, unfortunately, had conveyed that consequences can be avoided if enough pressure and influence are brought to bear.
The response to my letter was a lengthy voicemail message stating that she had tried to get the parents to see me, but they were adamant in their goal of having him drop my course. To her credit, she did invite me to make an appointment to see her in her office if I had any further questions, but it was an invitation I declined, my disillusionment with the entire episode profound.
How do I think she should have handled it? I think she should have insisted that the parents see me before going any further; if they refused, I guess it would have been their option to complain to a superintendent, who likely would have acquiesced in their demand. However, the difference would have been that the principal would have at least sent a morale-boosting message that she supported her teachers, although having the problem progress to the superintendent probably would have meant some unpleasantness for her.
But isn’t that why administrators are paid the big bucks?