In The Classroom

Teachers call on HISD to stop bullying

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A new survey seems to reveal a bullying problem rampant within Houston schools. But the alleged bully targets are not the students, they're the teachers. And their union wants to see some changes so it will stop.

Allison Galloway says her son Trysten was being bullied until the administration at Gross Elementary stopped it.

She said, "Bullying needs to come to an end because it affects everybody from any age."

But it's those same administrators at Gross and schools across HISD who teachers accuse of being bullies themselves.

Houston Federation of Teachers President Gayle Fallon said, "We had a lot of complaints about public insults, public reprimands, just, you know, verbal abuse."

The Houston Federation of Teachers sent out a six-question survey about bullying and found the problem is systemic. In close to 2,600 responses, 65 percent of teachers say they have been bullied by an administrator this year. Of those, 53.6 percent say the principal was the bully. More than 74 percent did not report it and 95 percent want a district policy addressing workplace bullying.

Fallon said, "We need a policy of prohibiting bullying of adults by other adults."

Some of the teachers' complaints include:

  • "She is rude and talk to you like a dog. Please help us."
  • "Please help and do something now, we can't take it much longer."
  • "She screams, barges into classrooms and slams things in our classrooms in front of students."
  • "It's just a scary, negative, intimidating atmosphere."
  • HISD issued a statement which read, in part, "Principals are expected to treat teachers with the dignity and respect they deserve as professionals. HISD has policies in place that are intended to guarantee all employees a healthy work environment, and the district is committed to enforcing those policies."

    The principal at Gross Elementary wouldn't comment on the survey, though Galloway believes bullying is everywhere at all ages.

    "It doesn't surprise me at all when we have problems with our children being bullied in school just as well," she said.

    The union indicates that if the school board and/or the administration does not implement a new bullying policy to protect teachers, they'll start taking complaints to the ethics commission and seek to have principals removed from their jobs.

    Read the anonymous comments teachers posted on the survey, broken down by schools in HISD.

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