In Letter to the Editor, Parent Claims Relationship Between SHUSD Administration and Staff Is Strained

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Southern Humboldt Unified School District bus

Southern Humboldt Unified School District bus [Photo from their Facebook page]

Dear Editor,

In the past few months, I have been vocal in my concern about SHUSD staff turnover, and have claimed that the current relationship between SHUSD administration and its staff appears to me to be under stress and at times shows signs of dysfunction. I’d like to share how my interest in the subject was sparked.

In December 2015, my son’s exceptionally talented and inspiring teacher was placed on administrative leave. The complaint for which he was placed on leave could have been easily resolved. What I didn’t know at the time was that the parent who had made the complaint had not even originally sought to make a complaint. She did not contact the school about the incident; the school sought her. She appreciated this teacher and felt that he was an excellent educator. All she wanted was consideration of switching her student to another classroom. Instead, this parent has since expressed [directly to me] feelings that she had been guided by the administration into making a claim that was written in such a way as to be as harmful to this teacher as possible. The parent has since become distressed and remorseful at the consequences.

As soon as I learned about this administrative leave, I asked the school site administrator as to how I could best to support his return to the classroom. I was shocked when she completely stonewalled me. She offered no support of her excellent teacher and repeatedly used “confidentiality” as an excuse not to engage with me when asked how I could support him. I emphasized that I was uninterested in the details of the complaint, I just wanted to know how I could help get him back in the classroom. She continued to insist that she couldn’t tell me anything. Finally, someone whispered to me to write a letter to the board.

The idea that a school employee had to whisper such a solution to me is, I feel, indicative of something sincerely wrong in the school environment. The Principal herself should have told me the procedure, or directed her staff to, and should have been the very first to ensure that parents knew how to express support. I also didn’t know that only a short time before this, another parent made a frivolous charge against this same teacher based on uncorroborated evidence, leading to an investigation of this teacher. The school video system proved that the claim was completely unfounded. This administrator’s glaring lack of support for this fabulous teacher stunned me.

My family, especially my son, has paid a very high price for the decisions made by district administration. We went from having my gifted son excited and enthusiastic about going to school, participating in drama and music, and making great strides in all subjects, to counting the days until the end of the school year, his overall math skills deteriorating as a result. This is what happens when inspiring, talented teachers leave our district.

In discussing my concerns with fellow community members and district staff, I have heard repeatedly of concerns that the district values compliance over passion and professional excellence. However, great education is not attained by pleasing the administration, but by inspiring the students.

I believe that if SHUSD is to continue providing high-quality educational experiences for our local youth, it is imperative that we as a community find a way to retain dedicated and talented teachers. Furthermore, I strongly believe that these teachers will remain in the district if they feel safe, supported and valued. The SHUSD staff, student body and community deserve a safe and inspiring school environment and I am committed to supporting the district in accomplishing just that.

Sincerely,

Ann Hammond

Southern Humboldt Unified School District Board Meeting is at 4 p.m. on February 16 at Redway School.

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24 comments

  • Sounds like you should have not filed the complaint if it isn’t warranted. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Once you out it in writing then it’s official and the school has to respond. Think twice next time.

  • The person who wrote this letter is not the parent who was pressured into filing a complaint about the teacher.
    Please reread the letter and get a better understanding of what the letter writer is saying.

  • Mr. Hart , from Redway Elementary, you have parents who hold you in high regard. You may not have the gentlest personality in the classroom but the students are learning with you as their guide. We wish the best for you in your teaching career and we would consider you an asset to any school fortunate to have you on their staff. Best of luck to you in all you do.
    Sincerely,
    A Mother
    A Community Member
    A Voice
    God Bless

  • School administration is so scared of being sued they cave to parents constantly. This is a nation wide problem. They should have their staff’s backs. No one should have to work in an environment where one whiney parent can have them in trouble. My daughter was spoken to about taking too many days off because a parent complained. She is no where near her yearly allotment, but even half way there. She was scared to stay home with her 4 year old son last week when he was running a temp of 104.5. That is total hog wash. No parent should live in that kind of fear. No parent should have to leave a child that is that sick because of the whim of some parent that thinks they’re child’s needs are more important than anyone elses. My son on the other hand teachers at Pacific Union. He loves it there. They have one of the few administration’s that don’t cave to parents and watch out for their staff.

  • As an employee of Humboldt County Schools for over 30 years, I have heard from several So. Humboldt employees that the district supports and defends parents over personnel. They were afraid to confront parents about their kids because they would be questioned by administration. This whole county needs to get back control of it. Our reps from county admin to schools need to get a backbone.

  • Here we go again with this Anna Hammond wackjob chick. Injecting herself in administration business. Your opinion sucks Ann. Let our staff do their jobs. Its very common for staff of any company to not engage with noisy busy bodies like Ann. Ann, leave us alone! [edit] please go find another community to harass. [edit] take up basket weaving, or hitchhiking eastern Canada.

    • I agree! Also a staff member. My experience has been that my co-workers and superintendent have more than had my back. What ever this lady’s problem is she obviously does not understand the whole public school system in it’s entirety. We all work our butts off for the kids in our community. I love my job and my SOHUMUSD family!

    • Mr. Neiman/Hart should have been removed from the classriom years before he actually was. He was abusive in class. Yelling in the kids faces. Talking down. Picking fights. Falsely accusing. He was a compleye maniacal tyrant! This is the teacher that blew out my child’s academic spark. I didn’t file a complaint but was urged by the principal at the time to do so. It was a fight I wasn’t up for, but we did switch schools…I have much disgust for that man.
      As far as the principal now, I don’t have much respect for her. I’m elated I no longer have to deal with the elementary school anymore, just because of her. We had very positive experiences with other teachers and staff. Panfilio and Neiman can respectively, suck it!

    • Dude seriously Ann is ten times as intelligent as you . She has very well thought out and scincere arguments and is justified in her voicing her opinion. It is better to hear and to talk about these things than to have them swept under the rug . Be considerate

  • To: thebigdeal – You are a coward to hide behind a name that is not real. Every parent and community citizen has a right to free speech and their opinion. Name calling and judging others says everything about you. Please don’t make this forum insignificant with your hatred and unhelpful suggestions. Maybe we should worry about the attitude and compassion of employees such as you. I hope the best for your recovery to be a thoughtful and respectful community member that our children can look up to.

    • Rio Dell Firefighter

      Bakerysweet-

      But aren’t you doing exactly what you just criticized someone for, hiding behind a false name and putting someone in judgement? It’s ok to have an opinion. It’s human, but sometimes opinions can hurt people.

    • BakerySweet. You are a hypocrite. That’s not passing judgment. That’s a fact based on your reply of thebigdeal.

  • Very involved parent

    Ann, [edit] Neiman has been physically and psychologically abusing students for years. He is guilty of both of these truths against both my son and myself.[edit]

  • Wow! I am truly shocked by our behavior. Our students learn far more from the words and actions of the parents; not from a teacher they’re with for 180 days. The spark is not blown out by a teacher & if it is we, as parents, need to rekindle that flame, groom it so that no individual will have that much power over our youth. I love working with these young people & can speak only to the Miranda campus: we have two profound young admins working with students. They have transitioned well, considering the baggage and admin turnover our schools have been a part of. I’m all for public discourse and making your opinion heard in a professional way, but if we continue to use hateful languange towards one another, not only will turnover be high, our posterity will repeat the same patterns & discontent we are witnessing here. Be the positive change you wish to see in the community.

  • KIM..This letter from DEVOLVED-PARENT is why i dont look at your page as often as i used to. Hatred like this is the new Trumpism.Is the web master asleep? Though ,ignorant bitch , balls, and fucking cunt are all wonderful words its the womens hatred that is sad. [edit]And to attack someones children?…. Really Trumpy!

  • Wait? Did everyone get a participation trophy?..

  • “Wait? I grow dope and compete for a golden tarp award, and your gonna yell at my kid? The nerve of you teachers”

    • Perfect little angels, just have creative expression of emotions. You don’t want to stifle their growth as little people. 😉 Who wants discipline and respect in the next generation anyway?

      • Um, Ann is actually trying to support the hard, rigid teacher here, not complain that her kid is getting yelled at. In reality, he assaulted students in many ways over the years, not ok. It’s too bad because he could have been a really great teacher. The teacher that replaced him sits in class and works on their other job or copies worksheets. I have never talked to a parent that thought the replacement teacher was a good teacher at any level. But that teacher continues to have a job year after year. Ann is just pointing out that the support system in our district is more than a little skewed. And she has a valid point.

  • I knew that if I posted a pleasant comment about Mr. Hart, some would take the bait, hahaha.
    There is a lesson to be learned here.
    There are many difficult situations which should be dealt with in a positive manner.
    Mr. Hart has never won the popularity contest, yet, he taught at Redway for how many years?
    How many parents , students and faculty members were witness to his daily assaults , and did nothing !
    Until recently.
    When I was in elementary school, the bully teacher was Mr. Heinze. He weighed 300-400 lbs and would keep all available fans for the class pointed on him. He would sweat profusely and teach our 5th grade class. It was a classroom you hoped you wouldn’t get. One of my classmates lived next door to Mr.Heinze. “Billy’s” parents gave permission for Mr.Heinze to discipline him in the classroom. He would humiliate Billy, he would make fun of his hand-me-down clothes that were I’ll fitting and small. He would stand Billy up in front of the class and he would whip his ass right there in front of the entire class. And he would do it with a smug sweaty smile.
    My mother had 8 children who went through that school. Some had this teacher and some didn’t.
    My mother was a room mother, and with 8 kids she had been called to the school many times over the years. Her way of looking at the situation was this.
    We all have to find a way to manage our work and maintain our grade no matter what the luck of the draw. Some years you will have great teachers who we all love and remember as the best ever. There are also the horrible Mr.Heinze’s.
    Our job as students is to persevere. We can’t quit or move to another classroom or another school. We have it in us to face the difficulties and hope for a better teacher next year. What are we teaching our children by changing schools or teachers or moving away? You are teaching them that they don’t have to endure the hard times. And that, my friends, is how you end up raising a bunch of pussies that cry and whine about everything and never learn compromise or tolerance. Running away from Mr. Hart, or changing schools or teachers is not how you face this issue. He should have been repremended years ago and noone stood up and did anything til now???
    I believe I was in highschool before Mr. Heinze was fired. Maybe if they had been instructed early on about the proper way to conduct themselves in the classroom, they would not have been so seasoned in it.
    Keep this in mind with the new teachers and when your child comes home complaining go and see for yourself and seek guidance or file a complaint if need be. Don’t let years of students white knuckle their way through the bad teacher. And keep in mind this is not a popularity contest. Teachers aren’t always likeable. They are required to teach.

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