School is out for the summer but that’s not all teachers have to smile about, thanks to a victory in a precedent-setting case involving Harford County Public Schools, freedom of speech and Chris Battaglia.
Battaglia is known as the former assistant principal who ran afoul of Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas after he let it slip he was being transferred from C. Milton Wright High School and his supporters turned out at a Board of Education meeting to protest the move. Not only was Battaglia admired by parents and students, prior to the public outcry he was also highly regarded by his employer.
He had been praised in performance reviews, recommended for a merit raise and trusted to serve as interim principal. But after the uproar at the board meeting, Battaglia was demoted to a teaching position. The Superintendent called that a ”transfer” too, but with the 30% pay cut, it was hard to see it that way. So with four kids and a mortgage, Battaglia reluctantly sought a position outside of Harford County Public Schools. But when Battaglia tried to move on, it was the Superintendent who wouldn’t let go.
Battaglia’s new job was to start in April, meaning he would need early release from his teaching contract, a fairly routine request. Superintendent Haas refused unless Battaglia signed an unprecedented separation agreement which released the school system from any claims relating to his demotion, prohibited him from reapplying for a job in Harford County Public Schools ever again and prevented him from making any public remarks to anyone outside the school system regarding his employment – in other words a gag-order. In exchange for these conditions, the Superintendent agreed not to seek suspension of his teaching certificate and would release him without prejudice.
A gag-order relating to the operations of an organization may be justified if a departing employee is privy to trade secrets or has agreed to a financial settlement or when an investigation is in progress. But the operations of Harford County Public Schools are conducted on behalf of the public, and with few exceptions are open to the public by law. What is justifiable about preventing a former employee who is also a parent and a taxpayer, from offering public comment on anything from school uniforms to curriculum?
If Superintendent Haas was worried Battaglia would talk about something in particular, conspiracy theorists certainly have their pick of possibilities. As a school administrator, Battaglia knew what went on behind the scenes. He also demonstrated a propensity for candor. He had spoken to the media about his demotion in the past and testified in favor of an elected school board, citing the treatment he received as evidence of the need for greater public oversight.
As an assistant principal, Battaglia developed a highly successful 9th grade transition program and he had the data to prove it. But the block-schedule component of the controversial high school reform plan known as CSSRP made it difficult to continue the program. It was soon displaced by the course known as “Living in a Contemporary World” which has since been widely discredited.
And finally, Battaglia had worked closely with William Ekey, the now-retired administrator familiar to Dagger readers, who was among the members of the public seeking an unbiased review of CSSRP. Ekey put pressure on the school system by publicly expressing doubts about the benefits of CSSRP and posing informed questions about the data, or lack thereof, being used to evaluate the plan. Perhaps there were concerns Battaglia would follow the same path.
Or maybe there was no reason other than opportunism. If Battaglia was desperate because he had bills to pay, why not use that as leverage to get something in return? Regardless of the motive, a public school system has no right use its power over an employee to squelch public speech or to avoid public scrutiny.
By this time, the lawyer for the Maryland State teachers’ union, Kristy K. Anderson, had seen enough. In a scathing appeal to the Board of Education on Battaglia’s behalf, she noted she had never before encountered an agreement containing such a broad gag-order or the “unconscionable” release of personnel files. The appeal sought a finding that the Superintendent’s actions were retaliatory and arbitrary.
Battaglia refused to sign. But with bills mounting and a promotion waiting, he was eager to be free. So he offered to refrain from discussing his demotion in public and another agreement was offered for his signature, this time in the form of a letter made to look as if it had been written by Battaglia. The letter chillingly expanded the original gag-order to include any public statements about “the operation of Harford County Public Schools in general.” To ensure compliance, the letter went on to say if Battaglia violated any of the provisions of the proposed agreement, his confidential personnel files could be released by school officials.
Superintendent Haas countered with a motion to dismiss. To its credit, the Board of Education denied the Superintendent’s motion and although they declined to rule on her motives, the board’s written decision not only affirmed the basis for Battaglia’s appeal, it averted a dangerous precedent by concluding the Superintendent’s attempts to negotiate conditions of release with any teacher were inconsistent with the intent of state law. The board remanded such decisions back to Haas with two general guidelines. She was to consider the reasons for the request and balance that with the needs of the school system, period. No gag-orders, no waivers of confidentiality, no pre-conditions of any kind.
Keeping in mind the school year ended on June 13th, Battaglia’s lawyer received a letter from Superintendent Haas on June 3rd, demanding Battaglia make his case under the new guidelines. With only 8 working days left in his contract, the point was moot but the timing and the tone of the letter made it clear Battaglia would be held to the bitter end.
Battaglia’s contract has finally expired and he has officially resigned. He leaves with regret because he still cares about the school community he served. But he’s not sorry he fought being bound and gagged because in his words “I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else”. Thanks to Chris Battaglia, it won’t.
This is Battaglia’s letter to his supporters, e-mailed June 24 and published with his permission:
An Open Letter of Thanks:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me and my family during my seven years in Harford County Public Schools, but especially for the outpouring of love you expressed over the past year. June 30, 2008 marks the end of my employment with HCPS, an end which came much sooner than I had hoped. The purpose of this letter is to both thank everyone for the seven greatest years in my educational career and also to update you on my next endeavor.
I have accepted a position with a private company that offers tutoring programs, homebound teaching assistance, and runs alternative schools for students across the country. I was asked to move to Florida in April to run approximately 12 DBI (Drop Back In) schools. These schools recruit former students who have dropped out and are interested in turning their lives around by “dropping back in” to school so they can get their high school diplomas. We rent space in churches and office buildings and use computer programs and individualized instruction to help each returning student acquire the credits he/she needs to graduate as well as prepare him/her for state assessments. Because I was unable to leave at that time, that position has now changed and I will be working in the corporate office in Baltimore with the tutoring and homebou nd education programs.
I have no ill feelings toward HCPS and would love to work as an administrator in the system if my new career is not a “good fit” for us. It was made clear to me that administrative options are not open to me at this time in HCPS, but with the passage of time, I am hopeful that personal feelings could be put aside and my abilities as an administrator and my personnel file would speak loudly in favor of another opportunity to work for HCPS.
Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I truly believe God has a plan. For example, if I was not prevented from leaving in April, I would be living in Florida and commuting home on weekends. If not for my reassignment to teaching, I would never have gotten the chance to meet the students in my classes and develop strong relationships with them. I would never have gotten the chance to experience all the overwhelming love and support from the many parents, students, colleagues, politicians and even strangers from across the county and state during the past year. And finally, this experience brought our family closer together and also strengthened our faith.
Ps. Please forward to anyone who you think would like the update. I would like everyone to know how thankful we are.
vietnam vet says
what happened too freedom of speech? it would appear the board of education is under fire.might be interesting to see what else come’s to light.
very good article cindy
Phil Dirt says
If there were justice in the world, the only one being released from a contract would be Jackie Haas. Right now, I am ashamed to be a product of Harford County Public Schools. I can’t believe that she got away with this.
Great job, Cindy. Thank you for showing us her true colors.
This is just jaw-dropping-
I am speechless to think that a professional in the HCPS was treated this way. Only a little over a year ago Mr. Battaglia was highly regarded by the school administration and his peers. (As well as his students and parents, which never wavered). I wish Mr. Battaglia and his family the best and am impressed with his ability to persevere despite of this.
I am also so disheartened to know another professional -our school superintendent-evidently felt so insecure about her role that she had to resort to such measures. If Dr. Haas truly has the student’s interests at heart then shame on her for wasting all her valuable time( staff’s time as well), and the BOE on this issue. She should have enough confidence in not only her decisions but also her own abilities as superintendent to support “potential backlash”. Apparently she does not, and that my friends is what is even more worrisome.
Thank you Cindy for this extremely insightful article.
Nicholas Pucino says
Great job of flushing this out. I never heard of such a condition for early release from a job contract. It is like getting out of the Gulag for good behaviour – Just say they treated you well and there was plenty of food and light in your cell!
Thank you Cindy for revealing the true colors and management style of Jackie Haas. In my mind, if we had an elected school board while this was going on it never would have gotten this far. I believe an elected board would have questioned the rationale behind the demotion and looked at Chris’s personnel appraisals…they would have seen there was no justified reason for the demotion in the first place. Chris Battaglia is a class act. Clearly Jackie Haas does not measure up to him…nor to the level expected of such a highly paid superintendent. Chris is better off in his new job.
Each time we traveled to Annapolis to testify in favor of an elected school board, I came home to tell my family how humbled I felt to serve with a person of your strength and integrity. You were a gift to the Harford County School system and I view it a a crime that my children will not have the opportunity to have you as their school’s administrator.
Our very best wishes to you and your family as you take a new step in your career.
Really well written article, Cindy!
Cindy…truly chilling..the bizzarr need and lust for absolute controll. I wish I had cindy as a ghost writer for me…one hell of a job.
As somone who has and is experiancing the same treatment…I feel for Bataglia. This crap should never be tolorated.
How much money has Haas spent harassing this man. How many meetings…hours?
Additional to my last post…
Meetings and hours to deal with the fact that the public might get insight into seeing how the board works, apperantly a real FEAR of hers (her machine)….vs. ….running the schools.
Parent, taxpayer and businessman says
This is what HCPS has become. This is the control that the superintendent has over the majority of the board. This is the extent of the unnaccountability. And words cannot relate how we have been utterly failed by the administration and by the Board. It truly is an embarrassment. And those that did Superintendent Haas’ and certain board members’ bidding in helping to kill the only chance we had at obtaining accountability, should be ashamed of themselves.
This is a truly great article. It really makes me sad that the board and administration are so transparently wrong. Why is it that folks in public office/staff feel that the power is all that matters. In business we admit and correct mistakes all the time. I must apologize to one or more of my customers once or more every week. I know, as does any business person, that trying to cover up or work from a position of retribution will cost you at the bottom line. It is obvious that the HCPS folks know they cannot and will not be held accountable and that no matter how porly they do, their budget will be increased by millions again next year. Face it we have to worry about the “poor chilluns.” Competition keeps me sharp, monopolies always do a lousy job!
I have much to say but all I feel right now is deep sadness. After reading the letter that Chris wrote, it sickens me that our school system treated him the way they did and the students in Harford County are going to suffer because of his leaving. The fortunate people are the ones who hired him to help run this program for struggling students. From everything I have heard and seen, Chris Battaglia was the kind of teacher and administrator that everyone liked and his enthusiasm and concern for kids was genuine and sincere.
Again, why did this happen and what did he do that warranted this action from the school system? The Board of Education had the opportunity to reinstate him to his previous position last year and chose not to do so. In the interim, we are going around talking about a lack of leadership in the principal pool and hiring someone from out of state to head Edgewood Middle.
The word that comes to my mind about all of this is SHAME!
Wasn’t Mr. Battaglia originally assigned to a AP position at Edgewood? It is a shame he didn’t take it. The students there could have benefited from his leadership.
I think that Chris was originally assigned to AP position at Edgewood and that is where the trouble began. Who says he wasn’t going to take the job there? He wanted to stay at the school he was assigned to where his kids would be going to school, and the community wanted him to stay but he never refused to transfer. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a community has been upset, and it is a fact that the administration at a school has a strong influence on the school climate and quality of the school, and teaching staff.
The question here remains WHY he was treated the way he was and what did he do, or what information does he have that the superintendent didn’t want him to discuss. Maybe someone with a relationship with a board member or something can find out because I’m sure many of the school system employees are afraid to talk about it or don’t know anyway. I am very curious …
Barry Anderson says
Absolute power corrupts.
If my understanding of HCPS -and most other businesses- is correct, mid level administators serve at the behest of senior admin. Refusal of assignment and encouraging (or at least not discouraging ) a public stink is probably not going to result in consideration. Top management often transfers employees – sometimes even to other states and overseas. Those transfers occur for a variety of reasons- generally for the good of the whole and often difficult for the individual. They may have talents that are needed more elsewhere, they may need alternative experiences/training, they could be being groomed for other assignments of leadership and diverse responsibility.
It could be as simple as that, An opportunity was presented and that opportunity was challenged based on personal preferences. Perhaps that was viewed as insubordination-or at least a disqualifier for future leadership position. It could be that those who mourn Mr. Battaglia’s loss didn’t do him any favors when they marched outside the BOE with bullhorns. I can’t imagine any employee of any corporation benefitting from such tactics. If someone can site such a case please speak up. A CMW loss was turned into a HCPS loss.
Once again- just an alternative analysis.
Kathy King says
Well folks let’s keep our eye on the prize. The bottom line is that this type of abuse can and will continue until we get an elected board. We came so close last session to realizing that all important goal.
If we stick together raise our voices and as Winston Churchill said, “Keep buggering on!” we can beat them at their own game.
Mr. Battaglia never refused to go to Edgewood. He actually was communicating with staff at Edgewood and they expressed that they were looking forward to his xfer at the time of his “reassignment.”
Once the EMS position was posted nationally he applied for this position and was hopeful to interview. His resume’ was personally emailed to HR and the superintendent with a personal letter stating his qualifications. To this day he has never received a reply. Working with underperforming schools is an area of strength and he very much had hoped to have the opportunity to speak with someone about this position.
Lew Jr. says
I have always been of the opinion that when examining various issues, many people go to great pains to find the “gray area”. Not to say there never is, but I believe more often than not, when you peel away all the layers, things get pretty simple. From my view on this issue, that is very much the case. Mr. Battaglia was a well respected leader and educator. That is well documented. On a side note, I had to good fortune to cross his path several times and he was extremely helpful to me.
For what ever reason, he got on the Superindentents S list and she hosed him. Plain and simple. And furthermore. as has become par for the course, our illustrious school board followed along right behind her. Makes me think of a classic movie that aired on TV last night…The Music Man….Professor Harold Hill has come to Bel Air!!
Someone before me said it best. What an absolute shame! This is the best we can do for leadership in HCPS??
Thanks Cindy for a great article. I hope other media outlets will pick up on this.
After reading the open letter again a few lines are sticking in my craw…..this man has been run outta town by a thug on OUR NICKLE…..hes taking it well…and graciously…but never the less he has been run outta town.
I will say it…just to be clear….
SON OF A BITCH…!!!!!!
This is heart breaking.
Those of you that attend and comment at schoolboard meetings, county council budget meetings, ect…should make mention of this outrage in every and each comment on every issue for years to come…an opening and reminding statement in each comment made to and about the board on every issue. This should never be allowed to happen again. Keep it fresh….!!
So, Shamrock- as you seem to have clear information re the sequence of events involved in this debacle- If Mr. Battaglia did not refuse the assignment- or balk in anyway- then the only infraction that may have sunk his ship was the public hue and cry. How then did the public- including activists who don’t even have kids at CMW- get the information and subsequently manage to derail his assignment to EHS? Perhaps the Supt. felt it necessary to take a hard stand in response to another perceived attack from a certain gadfly element. Perhaps Mr. Battaglia was somehow determined to be complicit in these events and they were judged to be a refusal per se- if , in fact, he did not protest the reassignment himself in some way. Perhaps his personal file would answer such questions. After all the hub-bub and arguments that his assignment to CMW was so essential to that particular school community, why would an application for assignment to another school be considered? Would not the community howl again?Or would they only howl at his behest? Is an employee only to be assigned to a position and place of their or the communitiy’s choice?
My experience in life has been that power plays often backfire- and that there is always a great deal of gray area to be considered- or at least black AND white. It is easy to assume that there is only one side to a story- when it confirms one’s assumptions.
I appreciate the Dagger as a forum wherein multiple viewpoints can be respectfully expressed, shared and considered.
Are you a member of the school board or work for the school system because you too seem to know quite a bit of information. The fact is the superintendent demoted him and he did what most people would do in his situation – he looked for another job to make more money to support his family. If he was such a bad employee, they should have been happy to let him go so what was the reason for the action taken against him?
I guess the bullhorns outside were just bad publicity for the school system, not Chris Battaglia. Public support for a PUBLIC employee … don’t see anything wrong with it – he is paid by the taxpayers as is the superintendent of Harford County.
Elaine…my guess is yes….Ive seen this M-O before. Elaine…I would guess your seeing somthing very close to an official (or at least inside) answer…unofficially.
Barry Anderson says
Your position sounds a bit like that of an acquaintance of mine whose initials are GH.
I think you miss the point in connection with the PUBLIC demonstration, by the way guaranteed by the Constitution.
The PUBLIC in this case demonstrated to let the PUBLIC institution ( the HCPS and its leader) know that the PUBLIC, that pays the salaries of the PUBLIC institution’s employees, and who are also the CUSTOMERS/STAKEHOLDERS of this PUBLIC institution, did not think that the decision regarding Mr. Battaglia was in the PUBLIC/CUSTOMERS/STAKEHOLDERS best interests.
HCPS is not a PRIVATE corporation that has a bunch of different legal responsibilities to its owners (read stockholders/stakeholders). If the STOCKHOLDERS/STAKEHOLDERS demonstrated like this you bet their Board of Directors would listen to them.
No, this is simply a case of the arrogance of POWER. Ms. Haas and her merry little band of supplicants have simply forgotten who they report to and it ain’t the Board of Education…its us the ………………..PUBLIC.
If we thought like you have expressed, women wouldn’t have the vote, the war in Viet Nam would still be going on, the Civil Rights Acts wouldn’t have been passed, and the other indicia of social progress in this country wouldn’t exist.
The PUBLIC not only has the right to protest bad decisions by a PUBLIC institution (read its BUREAUCRATS), they have the responsibility to do so. Praise be to those members of the PUBLIC who are willing to let the rest of us know when PUBLIC institutions like HCPS are screwing up.
If there is anything we have learned here it is how important that the PUBLIC
must change the management of the PUBLIC institution HCPS!
If that requires an elected School Board with all its problems including the risk of the influence of special interests, so be it. Arrogant bureaucrats must be accountable.
Back to you George.
Barry Anderson says
Also, how long do we need to have Patrick Spicer as the General Counsel to the Board of Education.
He’s been there a hundred years or so hasn’t he?
That should be long enough.
Time for a change there too.
Why does the school board get away with this?
When the HdG city lashed out against me people sat and continue to sit on their hands…
Some say…its not important “enough”. (i dont want to make any one mad at me)
Some say..”its only about boats” (i dont want to make anyone mad at me)
Some say …”there are more important things”.( i dont want to…….)
Some say…Please give me an excuse to ignore this..cause..(i dont want to…)
The bottom line is that the powers that be know that people are scared shitless to open their mouths in our area and capitolize on it. I find what was done to Bataglia distastfull and vulger. It will happen again as not a soul will follow up and demand remedial action on the part of the schoolboard.
This has become the norm when dealing with dissent.
The bottom line is you have to decide if your a jelly fish or a rock fish…its that simple.
Go Dagger !!
What has ceased to amaze me is that those in administration seem to think Mr. Battaglia and his family campaigned for support at the May 21st school board meeting.
Mr. Battaglia rcv’d that support based on his performance as a teacher and administrator in both the Baltimore and Harford County school systems. His support stemmed much further than the CMW school district. His support came from students from over 15 years ago that are now parents of students in Harford County. His support came from parents of students he has guided or influenced in a positive way. His support came from students themselves that he has impacted in a positive way. The fact that they are trying to minimize the positive impact that he has had on many beyond Harford County is appalling. Mr. Battaglia is an administrator that makes decisions based on what IS best for kids….PERIOD! No Gray area here! I’m sure his new position working with underperforming schools/students will be a great use of his talents. I wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor!
To all of you other awesome teachers that continue to positively impact our children you know who you are)…don’t ever let those in higher places tell you not to let your heart guide you….it is what makes you the great teachers that you are and sets you apart from the others!!
Oh! one more thing….regarding his personel file….wasn’t it in the aegis that Mr. Battaglia was DENIED a public hearing, weren’t the windows covered with paper at the school board building, cops trying to run off the “mob” during his hearing last summer. I know for a fact that Mr. Battaglia wanted an open hearing so the public could hear the truth and see exactly what was in his file…nothing but “distinguished” administrator ratings.
Mr. Battaglia had nothing to hide….makes you wonder why they wanted to shut the public out doesn’t it?
Im stupified……mouth wide opened…..at what Im hearing. There is a hand book somewhere as how an entity in a position of abusable power is operated…im sure of it.
The same stuff…on various issues…over and over and over again.
We need a grass roots watch dog group in harford co. With a bedside manner like a pit bull.
Go Dagger !
Read Dave Yansens post in the thread preceding this one. Similer tactics….different issue.
Parent, Taxpayer and Businessman says
As usual, we see unsuccessful attempts (like yours) at defending or denying the obvious: that, a) the HCPS administration continuously acts self-servingly and irresponsibly while constantly using misrepresentation and suppression of transparency as its main tools, and b) the Board of Education either arrogantly or unwittingly, ignores it or denies it, and continues to get manipulated and embarrassed (while denigrating the advocates/gadflies/resistors who work hard each day to fight for a quality school system).
Then, people like you (and I hope and assume that you are sincere and well-intentioned here), feeling that it “can’t be this bad”, use misinformation fed to you by admin and board members to, either shoot the messengers or defend and mischaracterize the behavior and outcomes.
I just ask you to consider something: it IS “this bad”.
Maybe Mr. Battaglia didn’t do everything perfectly, but by ALL accounts he was a dedicated, talented, honest, respected and valuable administrator; and the vindictive manner in which he was taken to task by the superintendent was vengeful, draconian and disturbing. When will the Board take HER to task. I guess that will come when she gives the Board permission to do so. Instead, we all wait anxiously to see how much of a raise she will tell them to give her when the next contract negotiations come around. Disgraceful.
I am so overwhelmingly proud of my County, and its people, institutions, government, parents, students, teachers and leaders….with one sad exception: the HCPS administration and our appointed Board of Education.
Dave Yansen said in another thread that I cited as similer conduct……
on July 6th, 2008 1:22 pm
For rear of being accused of changing the subject, I see this as a perfect example of why we have, and need to hold dear, the second amendment to the US Constitution. As the various folk have chimed in I can’t help but think of the old saying;
“first they came and took away the Gypsies and I said nothing because I’m not a Gypsy. Then they came and took away the homosexuals and for the same reason said nothing. Then they took away the Jews but I’m not Jewish so I said nothing. Then they took away the Catholics but I’m Protestant. And now there is no one to say anything when they come for me.”
This HCPS machine needs to be dismantled.
Parent, Taxpayer and Businessman says
Good points, especially about our need for “a grass roots watch dog group in harford co.” We almost had one, until it was undermined by a lone delegate in March in a political back room in Annapolis….it’s called a “democratically elected board of education”.
Just to be clear- my name is not George, nor are my initials GH and I do not represent HCPS. I would not characterize myself as an “insider”- I have had no contact with current BOE members or HCPS senior staff. My only knowlege is from what I have read and what I have observed.
My responses here are primarily a reaction to the overwhelmingly negative opinions toward HCPS on this site that have been expressed on a myriad of issues over the past year. Certain voices here continue to attack HCPS from as many angles and on as many issues as possible from the sublime- the need for an elected school board- to the ridiculous- what kind of bball backboards were installed at PMMHS. Forgive me if I say that although the school system has its faults- there are positives as well. I have seen nothing positive regarding HCPS reported here. There does not seem to be a fair or balanced representation of opinion within this forum. And so I have expressed an alternative view point – because I do believe there is one to be considered.
Ritchie C should above all understand this as he has- and may still have in some groups- a minority viewpoint. Like him I appreciate the freedom to disagree with the norm and will not be bullied into submission.
As far as the public demonstration in support of a public employee goes- once again I ask if any of you in your working lives has seen these kind of tactics pay off regarding a personel issue? I can imagine that in my job, if I am transfered by my boss, I will be expected to comply for the good of the whole. My alternative is to give notice and pursue other employment. If the people I currently work with object, it would be my responsiblity to assure them that I welcome the opportunity to serve my employer and our customers in the way deemed best by company leadership- especially if I want to maintain or gain a leadership position myself. Giving my company a ” black eye” in public is not going to pay off.
Collaborating with “supporters” who march around coorporate headqtrs with airhorns and bullhorns making demands would probably be seen as complicit on my part. Especially if my employer has been under public attack by these same people on multiple fronts.
Here is something that I just don’t get: it would seem to me that with Mr. Battaglia’s expertise with at risk student populations, the transfer to EHS would have been greeted with enthusiasm. In that situation I do not understand why he would not have vigorously discouraged his supporters from their subsequent actions. Had he assured them from the get go that this was indeed an opportunity that he welcomed than all this ugliness could have been averted and some needy students would have been better served.
So I have to wonder what/whose purposes were served by all this? Certainly not Mr. Battaglia’s, or HCPS or the Supt or the students? This debacle seems to have only been helpful fodder for …..?
This is dialog that is geared towards the removal of the possibility that this abuse…railroading….shanghaiing…ect ect may not be repeated. The removal of these tactics allows for an opened and productive school board.The merrits are not the issue…the tactics of the board are. From what I have read the board refused a PUBLIC HEARING……yet drops a hint that there is somthing in a personal file. Thus instead of a public hearing…you get public rumor mongering. When these tactics are exposed they can be addressed and eliminated.
In my case the exact thing has happened…its on page 349 of the “underhanded administration handbook”.
I agree the tactics are not acceptable…and retaliation for raising an issue is vile and nazi like.
Curious…you came very close (and im not debating this…its my opionion and as such not subject to debate) to an attack of Battaglia on merrits, or at least the appearance of it, on the merrits. In post 23 of this thread this (appearance of attack) attack appears. The question asked of you…and a few assumptions was…are you an inside?
I see what the other posters see…if you have not done so and are merley engaging in debate…than so be it…a simple clarification is what is in order.
As for your actual argument……
Mr Bataglia does not live in a vacume. As people find out whats going on they get riled…as a elected school board is debated, its a hot issue that draws fire. This is common. Its expected…and many that are passionate will capitolize on it. Jessicas law is another law that came to pass because people were riled. The United States came to pass cause people were riled.
Mabey you are just playing devils advocate…and have a good sense of issue…if so your to be applauded and your support is wanted and appreciated in these types of issues as all the support and talent in voicing support of these important issues, including the ability to see it from the other side, is needed to fully address them.
Go Dagger !!
Parent, Taxpayer and Businessman says
Curious: with all due respect to your arguments and your willingness to engage in this forum, I must respond to one comment from your last post.
You said, ” Forgive me if I say that although the school system has its faults- there are positives as well.”
My answer to that is: That is not the point. There had BETTER be some positives. Do the positives give the highly-paid administration license for this other behavior? Do the positives excuse them for the irresponsibility and misrepresentation? Do the positives justify the board’s rubber stamp with no scrutiny or accountability? Is that what we spend almost a half-billion dollars on……. some positives?!
And maybe, just maybe, the positives have more to do with the fine students, teachers and families of Edgewood, Fallston, Aberdeen, North Harford, Joppa, Bel Air, Abingdon, Havre de Grace, etc etc etc.
I will firmly and unequivically state that none of my remarks in this forum have been intended as an attack on Mr. Battaglia in any way, shape or form. As I have continued to ruminate on this situation I have actually come to regard the gentleman as a victim of some unfortunate circumstances- including perhaps some poor advice- and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I hope, Richie, that my post #36 clearly answers your questions in regard to my non-status as an “Insider”. Moreover I thank you for your ability to see the value in regarding this elephant from multiple angles. Honest debate can only clarify and assist in positive problem solving.
Yes curious…I do see that and without a reason to think otherwise I take you at your word. I have made the mistake of guessing who people were under screen names…and many times I have corrected myself…dont take it to heart…the posters here have a good cause…and your take…understanding it from another angle is most probably not lost. Your LAST sentance is very very true.
Go Dagger !!!
Phil Dirt says
Concerning the matter of only negatives about HCPS being posted, I believe that the goal is to have every action that takes place be positive, and by pointing out the negatives, one would assume that steps would then be taken toward that ultimate goal. Of course, the goal of every action being a positive one will never occur, but every change in that direction gets us a little closer to the ideal.
Or, if we post about the negative aspects of the system, we can get told to shut up and leave them alone. They know what they are doing. Who are we to question them? Do we pay their salaries? When we actually are footing the bill for the system, then we can expect their respect and results. (Hahahahaha! I crack me up!)
HCPS – the best public school system in Harford County. It has to be.
AH! But PT&B- perhaps that IS precisely the point! I have in my time had a bit of experience with conflict resolution, and one key ingredient is taking the age old walk in the other’s shoes. I know that many here have little if any regard for HCPS leadership. But I would ask you to just consider the enormity of the job. Certainly the job requirements are legion and the potential for error great. Giving at least some benefit of the doubt- imagine if you will that the Supt and/ or BOE members put untold hours of effort and energy into juggling a myriad of responsibilities. Consider for just a mo’ that their motives are good- that they want this school system to be the very best and they care deeply about education. They have carried this burden for years and have truly tried to keep all the pins in the air- so to speak.
Now. In that position, consider your response if only dropped pins were ever recognized/commented upon. Think about the toll constant attack and unmitigated critisism might evoke. Perhaps one would experience some loss of concentration, even some paranoia and perhaps subsequently make more mistakes. For example-
Under a barrage of negative distraction, you throw a pin to an employee- trusting that s/he will catch it- and instead s/he turns to the crowd who is yelling ” NO NOT THAT ONE!” The pin is dropped, you are blamed by the screaming crowd and you react in anger toward the employee. I know, i know- I’m crazy about metaphors- forgive me.
I have no doubt that the leadership of HCPS makes mistakes- big and small, but I also think that when credit due is given, constructive critisism is more acceptable and less counterproductive. That has been my life experience.
These are people too, my friends. They are not one dimensional comic book bad guys.
Unrelenting nastiness and name-calling is never productive.
Respect is contagious- someone needs to start the epidemic (and sometimes you have to do it yourself)..
Lets not forget…..good is expected and “no news is good news”.
Criticizm about an issue , on the other hand, cannot be retaliated against in any way shape or form unless its simply untrue.
Lets remember that when you are appointed you satisfy the ones appointing you…when elected…you must satisfy the ones your providing services for. The two may not have the same adgenda.
Phil Dirt says
HCPS does not need my compliments. They already live off of my money. The way I complimented HCPS was by sending my children to public schools – the same ones I attended. I reserve my compliments for the teachers who go above and beyond the minimum job description to instruct my children. And yes, there were some, but not quite as many as I would have liked.
The school leadership does not need me to send thank-you notes and bouquets of flowers to them. Those at the top get paid a hell of a lot of my money to do only the right things. That’s what i expect and what we should demand of them. When they forget who they are serving and who they are responsible to, they should be replaced immediately, and without a nice big severance package.
Tell me where to sign the “Fire Haas” petition and I will be there. This is about more than the Battaglia fiasco, but it is the last straw.
Phil makes the point very well…DOING ONES JOB WELL IS EXPECTED.
Fellow Dagger readers…support my petition to smack down this type of action…silencing criticizm by retailation….and lets do this often.
Read this and please show support…..silence is enabling!
Brian Young says
Curious is right to look at issues from both perspectives. It is important to take into account where someone, or an organization such as HCPS, was coming from when a statement was made or an action taken.
Maybe HCPS was “right” in the situation over Mr. Battaglia’s transfer to Edgewood, and maybe it was “wrong.” Really, it was certainly partially both: Curious is right that HCPS has the power to make the transfer. The public stockholders are right to question management decisions. Which side reacted the most irrationally?
The point of this article is that that question is no longer all that important. What IS much more important is that HCPS tried to use leverage to put a gag order on one side of the debate. A private corporation could do this, but not one that is held by the public.
Everyone should look to both sides of the issue. But, Curious, that can’t be done if only one side is able to present its side of the story.
Curious is also correct in that nastiness is not productive, and that HCPS employees, and is run by, people. And some of the issues management has been criticized for, such as the type of basketball backboard installed at PMMHS, are small in the grand scheme of HCPS education. Any organization made of people will make mistakes, and there is little issue raised with that fact– the problem is that even the greatest leader in the world would struggle in this system.
Our republic is built on checks and balances, and the power of an active citizenry. The management structure of HCPS has none of these. An elected board would be more likely to apply said checks, and to help alleviate the number and nature of the mistakes. THAT is why citizens want an elected school board.
Attempting to keep an employee of a public organization from having the public be able to take that “age old walk in the other’s shoes” is the problem, and there is no lack of respect or critical perspective inherent in addressing that.
Well. Mr. Dirt, I guess we would be safe to say that you and I are not sympatico in our philosophies! Just remind me never to work for you- LOL! I would never expect flowers or thank you notes- nor would HCPS, I suspect- but an occasional “attaboy” translates into positive morale and a greater willingness to go the extra mile…
I have perused the MSDE site and it appears to me that hard data supports the fact that HCPS is far from a dismal failure, doing very well by all measures of success. Throw in comparative levels of funding- especially for admin expenditures- and our school system is highly commendable. From a strictly personal perspective, my children, who were educated in a route 40 school, under current leadership, were afforded an excellent education, graduated with honors and have earned four degrees between them- from AA to Doctorate. And yes- I DO give credit to the teachers and families who are directly responsible. HCPS leadership deserves some credit as well. There is always room for improvement and, over time,some efforts for that purpose succeed- while others do not. As Benjamin Mays said “”It must be borne in mind that the tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”
Thanks to Mr. Young for his thoughtful, rational, and respectful analysis. I would differ in that I do believe a clear understanding of the genesis of a problem is essential to avoiding repetition. There are lessons to be learned all along the way – and my hope is that EVERYONE involved will benefit from a bit of hindsight and self examination.
I do believe that public discourse is a right and a responsibility- but there are more and less productive ways to communicate. And, although I can understand the argument for “checks and balances”, I still have some reservations regarding potentially unintended negative consequences of an elected school board. So let’s move carefully and thoughtfully forward toward a goal that we can all embrace- a better future for the children of Harford County.
WELL AT LEAST WE ALL HAVE THE SAME END GOAL….”a better future for the children of Harford County.”
GO DAGGER !!
Barry Anderson says
Do we now all hold hands and sing Kumbaya?
Barry……..Not Yet !
I vote for Barry to be choir master!! Thanks for taking the initiative, Bar! ROFL!