A principal’s job is to protect his/her students. However in those rare instances when principals don’t play their role, students suffer.
Where do I start?
I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. You hear about it so often that you become numb to it. Yet daily, there’s some kind of story that depicts an educator taking advantage of a student in a sexual manner. Often times then not, these predators face no jail time and depending on how strong their union is, many get to keep their licenses. The lack of morality exhibited by some educators is indeed a Black-eye on the profession.
Principal as Protector.
When I think about my time as a principal, I think about how it was my job to protect my students. To shield students from harm and ensure their safety. I wanted to be that person that students and families could come to if there were uncertainty. These are the types of qualities that I view are essential to the principalship.
At a Lost for Words.
If you know me, you know I’m never at a lost for words. But if I may be candid, this one is too close to home not to feel a certain way about it. We witness educators who exhibit questionable judgment daily. Research from 2004 states the abuse that happens in Catholic schools pales in comparison to the injury that occurs in public schools. Typing this has me feeling sickly. But even with these feelings, if we aren’t pushing the conversation forward, how are we protecting our students?
Riverhead High School Principal.
Our school, the Riverhead Charter School, is located within the Riverhead School District. We attract 50% or more of our students from the District. So when I say this is close to home, it really is close to home. The Riverhead High School principal is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student. While I fully support everyone having their day in court, this one is different. As a principal of a school, your job is to protect your students. Our students leave us in 8th grade and move on to high school. This could have been one of my students.
I couldn’t imagine being the superintendent in this district. The principal has been reassigned with pay pending the investigation. According to reports, the school district could not immediately fire the principal due to his tenure. Everyone believes that there can only be one outcome. I’m a pessimist when it comes down to things like this. I’ve seen privilege make the worst situations seem not so bad.
My immediate takeaways.
It’s important to highlight that our charter school, currently a K-8 charter school, serves as somewhat of a feeder to the Riverhead Central School District. Our pool of students is about 50%, RCSD residents. As a result, many of my in-district students end up going back for High School within the district.
Riverhead Charter School Needs a High School.
I say this to say a couple of things, 1) We need a high School ASAP. Fortunately for us, we were approved to go up to grade 12, but our 9th grade doesn’t start until 20-21. 2) There’s a high level of trust that must be maintained between our school and the district. Currently, we have no working relationship with our district. Last summer I met with the District’s highest official, and the response was a cold one. I was told that my school is the competition. My response was classic, “the only people we are in competition with is ourselves.”
What if the Principal was Black?
Now for the ultimate wrinkle: What if this principal were black or Latinx? I know some folks will say, why do we always have to talk about race? My response to that statement is, why would we not talk about race? Especially in a country that continually ignores its working poor. As a society, we need to have more conversations centered around equity, and sometimes the lack thereof. Especially when it comes down to students receiving a fair opportunity to learn.