Principals accused by Bartlett deserve exoneration
December 16, 2009 01:00 AM | 1941 views | 15 15 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

It seems Alison Bartlett has been chasing the title "board maverick" almost as long as she's been on the Cobb County Board of Education. She has become a superstar to those who oppose most of what the board tries to do and has become skilled at finding points of opposition. Last Thursday night, however, she may have solidified her hold on the maverick star as she stoically sat still for harsh criticism from her fellow school board members. She was admonished for falsely accusing five Cobb County principals of coercing their separate faculties into voting for the balanced school calendar.

She claimed she "had spoken in confidence with staff members from at least five different schools who "felt" they were influenced into voting for the balanced calendar option." She refused to provide the names of any of the "cowards" (board member David Morgan's word) who tattled. While that makes her even more of a hero in some people's book, every accused person has a right to face their accusers. Without these names, there is no way of knowing if any accusers exist outside Bartlett's imagination.

I am a teacher, and the issue of the calendar choice was only a blip on my e-mail one afternoon a few weeks ago. I paid little attention to it, as my 15 to 30 e-mails a day usually read like a time-consuming to-do list. There was no calendar discussion with anyone. When I finally found the time to vote, I did NOT vote for the balanced calendar (although I now look forward to it). Over 4,000 other teachers didn't vote for it either. So far, no intimidation or retaliation. If 4,000 of us are fired for voting for the wrong calendar, I'm sure the world will hear all about it.

I went to Glover Street for the board meeting and took lots of notes. Here's what I think happened:

Alison Bartlett got caught in a situation that exploded far beyond anything she had imagined. She had identified the principals at one elementary school, one middle school, and three high schools as administrators who had coerced and intimidated their faculties into voting for the balanced calendar. In the hope of discrediting the survey, she had called into question the integrity of these principals. They were deeply hurt. Their teachers, knowing the charges were completely false, circled around in their principal's defense. At one school a faculty-generated, administration-free petition was signed by nearly all faculty within hours; it stated outrage at the untrue allegations and was sent to all board members. Other schools showed similar acts of support, sending private e-mails to board members, making phone calls and showing up in droves at the board meeting to support their accused principals.

When Bartlett realized the mounting anger that was directed at her, she began rearranging her assertions. "Perhaps there were two schools involved, not five!" "The definition of 'coerce' is really different from what most people think it is; if a principal even suggests it might be nice to have a week off in February, his comment should be classified as 'coercion' because, psychologically, someone overhearing the statement might be intimidated into thinking they had to vote the way the principal suggested." Also, "I'm worried about the 'process' for the future; it's not the individual principals I was going after, it's the process...the process!"

When Bartlett took her board seat, she was face-to-face with a roomful of people she had harmed. No, they weren't happy. And no, the board wasn't happy either. When Dr. John Crooks asked her if she was surprised at the impact her assertions had caused, the obvious answer was "yes." When he asked her why she hadn't talked to him directly since three of the five accused schools were in his district, she replied, "I don't have the answer."

In the battles between the David and Goliaths of this world, everyone loves "David." In many situations, a victory for David is a victory for the common man, and we all rejoice. But those who remember their Old Testament history know that many things David did were deadly and slanderous. Even though he could write glorious psalms, he hurt many good people. These innocent people also deserve their hero; they, too, deserve exoneration.

Donna Douglass
Marietta

Editor's note: Donna Douglass teaches ESOL World History and World Geography at Wheeler High School in east Cobb.
Comments
(15)
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supporter of Allison
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December 26, 2009
I have known Allison Bartlett for over 11 years. Her problem with the board has to do with the fact that she is a strong, very intelligent person who does not accept pablum from her colleagues, especially when she is representing people who are under-represented: those of us living in Southwest Cobb. Kudos to her and David Morgan for their support of their regions. Does Dr. Abraham know how many times the camera has been on him when Allison was speaking, and he was seen rolling his eyes? The Cobb County school district is divided in two: East and West, and West always gets the shaft. Allison and David are trying to stop that. Hey teachers in East Cobb Schools, do you know that their are schools in West Cobb that still have chalkdboards and not smartboards? Thank you Allison. Thank you David.
OhComeOnNow
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December 26, 2009
Are you kidding? You obviously do not know this wonderful lady. She has integrity and would never be put up to anything. She thinks for herself. She has no desire to be in any other position than being a teacher - helping kids.

She gave an honest accounting of what she saw in person, along with her opinion. Wow - can a person not have an opinion that is counter to some others without being attacked any more?
Just Curious
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December 18, 2009
How many Board Meetings has teacher Douglas attended for "note taking" this year or last year ? Also, how many teachers at the identified schools are active members of PAGE or GAE ? Investigator Bernknopf needs to provide some detail and data for her conclusions/findings ! If a teacher comes forward with testimony, cross examined by Brock, that there was some "coercion" then will the 5 astonished Board Members and the Superintendent resign ?
Big D
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December 17, 2009
Ralphie -

It was done through the power of insinuation by Cobb mom 12/16 at 7:12am:

"Or perhaps you were asked to write this piece?"

You, my friend, are the one who's wrong on this.
Elbridge Gerry
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December 16, 2009
I believe:

Bartlett Lied, Careers Died, She should Resign!
What a RELIEF
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December 16, 2009
Whew! What a relief my kid doesn't go to Wheeler High School. As gullible as you are, I don't think he'd receive a proper accounting of world history. And for the record, Bartlett can't exonerate people she never accused.
Ralph F
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December 16, 2009
Wrong again big D - no one said she was put up to it. Read the blogs again. Two blogger said that Donna wanted a job in the ivory tower. She did it on her own because she knows that the admin likes and rewards people who stand with them.

Just like most teachers know that they will be cut if they say anything negative.

I do have to agree with your last point though! A trained investigator would be preferable - not hired by Sanderson and cronies.

Good Lord
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December 16, 2009
The person who wrote this letter may be dumber than Banks and Abrams put together. Now that is saying something.
Big D
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December 16, 2009
Donna, this was a well-written letter! Earlier posters tried to claim you were put up to it, but that assertion is irrational... you stated that you voted AGAINST the superintendent's desired calendar. Too many readers conveniently overlook the petitions signed by teachers in protest of the pitiful insinuations against the principals. AND, to be clear, Ms Bartlett's claim implies teachers are such fragile beings as to be intimidated by someone at a higher level merely stating a preference is, in my estimation, a major shot at teachers, too.

Ms Bartlett should apologize to the Superintendent and the Board for violating Board policy, to the teachers and principals for not doing thorough investigation FIRST, and to the community for inciting divisiveness. ** THEN, after apologizing, she should call for the establishment of an investigation process in cases where the superintendent's own actions are being questioned... one which is truly independent of ANY prior affiliation with CCSD or the super and one which honors the notion of "innocent until proven guilty." **
What Bunk
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December 16, 2009
Bartlett didn't accuse any principals. CCSD administrators did. You fell for their ploy and so did your principal. Critical thinking is a learned skill.
Sally G
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December 16, 2009
So you were there - First you heard alison name the 5 schools? Then you heard her say no there are only 2 school?

Why then were 5 schools "investigated"? When did she change her mind?

Just trying to get the principals version of the facts.

Rachel Tribble
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December 16, 2009
I guess you are trying to get a position over at the ivory tower. Wonder if Sanderson will read this one!
Ellie Mae
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December 16, 2009
Would not be surprised if this happened, but she did need to have some hard back up if she was going to publicly say something. I do believe that those who speak up get retaliation from above. That happens everywhere.
A view from W. Cobb
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December 16, 2009
Five will get you ten that Donna has an Add-On in leadership or is actively seeking that certificate so she can become part of the administration. As far as teachers speaking up, looked at what they did to the English teacher from McEachern that did speak up about supplies....She was booted out of the school for only talking about lack of supplies. . Imagine if her or any teacher spoke up about this issue. Donna you need to go back to reading your e-mails of no to little substance and not engage in the real world of back stabbing that this board has mastered. P.S. please read the entire report, never did Ms. Bartlett name more than 2 schools. In fact, the east Cobb schools were suggested by Fred's friend "the Executioner" errr I mean “wanna be investigator”. They were never named by Ms. Bartlett.
Cobb mom
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December 16, 2009
I thought that the teacher's contracts were amended a couple of years ago to include a clause that made speaking to the press a dismissable offense. Isn't this speaking to the press? Is this teacher going to be dismissed, or do we only enforce what we want to enforce? If it works FOR us we overlook it? Or perhaps you were asked to write this piece? Were you only doing what your superiors asked you to do, or maybe you were coherced.

Teachers- you should be outraged that the law firm of Brock,Clay was allowed to take away your first amendment rights like that. And you should be ashamed that you rolled over and allowed it with nary a peep.

Donna, you've been used by the CCSB propaganda machine. Good work!

Remember that the Nazi soldiers were only following orders.
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