8 school directors in 16 years speaks volumes about Lighthouse Charter School
Will the next school director become "human sacrifice" of arrogant teachers?
By a concerned Board Member (name withheld by request)
This comment on your story touched a nerve: "I hoped this story was going to tell us the candidates they were considering as their next director-as-human-sacrifice."
The truth about the school
is buried and not known.
Faculty accused of bullying, blatant lies and more.
The Lighthouse Charter School board is about to hire another new director after so many others. It is troubling that the truth about the school is buried and not known.
The attached statement was given to the school's board of trustees by the former director.
I cannot speak out with my name, but I have to tell you that our board fails to correct the problems at the school.
So many of the board have children at the school, and that keeps us from fixing what is wrong.
The former director, Kathy McNamara, did so much for the school. She didn't have a chance because no one can lead that unmanageable and arrogant staff.
Statement to the board by Kathy McNamara, March 21, 2011
First, thank you to each of you on the board for your tireless commitment to the school this year. I'm certain it often has felt like thankless work. You have always demonstrated a sincere commitment to the students, families and teachers, cognizant of your fiduciary responsibility for the good of the school.
This has been a most challenging year. In my nearly 30-year career, I have never experienced or seen anything like this work environment. When I was hired four years ago, I understood this to be a place where shared governance was the goal. This, among many other things, attracted me to the school. I found it worthy as a place to entrust the education of my own children.
A strong, anti-authority sentiment ruled the school, and it 'punished' leadership.
From the beginning, however, it was clear that a strong, anti-authority sentiment ruled. Even then, I tried to view it as creative tension to be worked with and cultivated. Last summer, I stepped on that line of anti-authority when I held two teachers accountable for their behavior. I'm sure you can easily recall the response ... the frenzy whipped up in social media, the threats of demonstrations. For the good of the school, I reversed my action, fearing some in this community would irreparably harm the school's reputation.
At the time, I told several of you, that I knew there would be retribution for my stand. The past 9 months have been most difficult. I face a hostile environment each day I enter this building. I have been mischaracterized by some, deliberately ignored by others, and challenged on every minor and major decision.
This isn't 1995 anymore; we must evolve to stay relevant and competitive
I face a hostile environment each day I enter this building.
In a school that boasts creativity and educating students to respect differences, it is shocking how many teachers march in lockstep, resistant to new ideas and change. The purpose of charter schools is to experiment with new ideas and innovative teaching strategies, and to disseminate those forward-looking practices. A handful of our teachers do that, the remainder refuse to grow and change. "We're different," a common mantra here, just isn't enough. This isn't 1995 anymore; we must evolve to stay relevant and competitive.
Not only have I been mischaracterized and undermined, so has this board. The Organizational Development process, which we together launched last fall, sought to tackle in a collaborative way some of the longstanding governance and personnel policy issues. The committee included board members, faculty and me. We devoted many, many long evening hours to the challenging work, in what I believed was good faith by all. Four weeks ago, we learned that an alternative effort, outside the school, had been in the making all the while we sought to work collaboratively. So, the shared process was run off the rails -vetoed -by the teachers themselves. Shared governance ...
There are blatant lies, hearsay, and emotional rhetoric. The truth has been dramatically twisted and repeated to fit a pre-determined narrative.
"Teacher-driven" has gone from empowerment to something else entirely. Many teachers have used bullying and mischaracterization in place of true and honest collaboration. As I stated in an email to you this weekend, the majority of the faculty report about my performance is not based in fact. There are blatant lies, hearsay, and emotional rhetoric. The truth has been dramatically twisted and repeated to fit a pre-determined narrative. I don't recognize the person described; it's not me.
Just one example: there were accusations of my having been absent from evening events or during the school day. There is a total lack of understanding that my job is different from a teacher's; I am supposed to be out of the building and in the community at meetings, both day and evening. An admissions open house in January conflicted with the night I was presenting before the Harwich Planning Board. The hypocrisy is, the teacher who leveled that charge took a four-day ski vacation, two weeks prior to the February school vacation, necessitating the hiring of a substitute teacher.
Last year I was accused of micro-managing, being too involved. Now, I'm "absent without leave" It's a case of "damned if I do, damned, if I don't."
Following the pack is easy;
Leadership is hard work.
I have not been treated with dignity and respect - the way the teachers want to be treated in their evaluations. I was open to the potential offered by this review - to gain constructive feedback in which to grow and improve. Following the pack is easy; leadership is hard work. Am I perfect? Of course not. I am humbled by the job -there is always more to learn and improve upon. But, this 360-degree review process -who among the staff would submit to such a thing?
As the 7th director in the school's 16-year history, it is evident that when a director demonstrates leadership, he or she crosses a line with the teachers. The teachers do not appreciate governance or accountability. This school is run by an elected Board of Trustees. The director oversees day-to-day operations and reports to that Board. The faculty does not share that oversight charge.
After all this, I still believe there is hope here - that this community has the talent, the board leadership, an experienced director, a passionate faculty, and strong parental support to get this school back on track. It will truly take everyone coming to the table with goodwill to get it done. I remain committed to working collaboratively to navigate through these turbulent waters, to strengthen the school and, most importantly, better serve our students.
Thank you for listening.
(submitted by a CCLCS board member, name withheld)