Interlude: Coup d’Darth

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

In late December, the principal of the Middle School where I taught was given a “Temporary Reassignment” to the Beaudry Building Headquarters. That was after a massive investigation by the District where every single person employed on campus was interviewed, observations of every classroom made, and even student/parent focus groups held. The District made “resolutions” to move forward, Pledge La was on hand, and it was made clear that changes needed to happen.

First among those changes, over the break, was the “Temporary Reassignment” of our principal, and the placement of an interim principal, who is now the actual, endorsed by the Superintendent, Principal with a capital “P”. All of this is a matter of public record, easily looked up if you know the names and places.

Darth…he pretty much blames me, and the Rascals in general, for what came down. During that whole debacle, I had real ethical soul searching about the situation. I troubled about whether it was grossly personal, as opposed to Bad Leadership that I objected to. It was definitely personal for Darth, and as I hear through the grapevine, it still is. That seems pretty bad to me, since once we no longer had intersecting responsibilities, I pretty much felt a little bad for him, and wondered about what the future would hold.

Let’s not get crazy of course. This is a fellow who tried to do me in, professionally, time and time again…even after I made an agreement to stay completely out of his way. An agreement, by the way, founded upon the principles that I would be looking to depart, and thus stay out of his way, with all of the other Rascals following suit. That seemed fair…let me do my job until I can do it someplace else, and I will promise to do it well.

That agreement lasted like…a month.

Still, I agonized over my part in what came down. Sometimes I still second guess it.

The rough part is…all of that was for exactly nothing. All of the Rascals have departed, the successful grade seven team is completely dismantled. The same goes for grade eight. Despite the hope that a new principal would come in and fix everything, that the fall of a Darth was the first domino in a chain of events that would lead to improvement…that was the fallacy. It was wrong thinking. I should have known better.

Basic systems were too damaged, key players already removed. Any one change to the system, no matter how key in position, couldn’t possibly be the tectonic shift needed to set things right again. Much like the title of the documentary, I was “Waiting for Superman” to come and make it right, one person powerful and good enough to do so. The only difference is that I took it upon myself, with the Rascals, to try and make the space for Superman to fly into.

The school year is done. Most of the team has left the school in the past eighteen months. A mass exodus of “heavy hitter” teachers happened in the last five weeks, taking all of the remaining Rascals off of the board. I’m hoping that gives the new principal a real way to rebuild, from scratch. To start over, with no corporate history of the Negative Zone.

But what of Darth?

Apparently, I worried too much. You cannot keep a good man down, or at least a man who knows what he wants, and is motivated to go for it. No matter what happened between us, I can’t say that Darth wasn’t likeable, ambitious, and focused like a laser beam on his goals. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I guess, to a very salient degree, so was I.

Still…after cooling his jets in the Cube Farm for a bit, Darth is back in the saddle again, as principal of an elementary school.

That being said…I wish him luck. Sincerely, not some sort of mean spirited anger wish, which people who know me are aware that I might lay out. In his way, he cares about kids and education. For months, as he chased us down and was generally uncool to us at school, we clung to the thesis, “He’d be a great principal in another setting…it’s just a bad fit.” I’d still like to think that…that the fit, both with the community, Pledge LA, the kids, and especially the Rascals just wasn’t very good.

I’d like to think that as he moves on, he doesn’t continue to bear me a whole lot of ill will. I know that’s not true, but I’d like to think it. For me…I’m reminded strongly of something he said to me once:

“When this is all over, I’d like to sit down with you, over dinner and a sporting event, and just talk.”

That’s stuck with me. I have tons of questions. Heck, I wonder what he has to say to me, or thought he would have to say to me in that moment. I think it would be interesting, because I know he meant well. I wonder if he realized that I did too, but some force kept putting us on opposite sides. I remember trying to do right, trying to play ball…but just nothing working out.

I think I’ve learned a whole lot from the experience, and how to deal with my colleagues at the teacher level. I think this experience, overall, has made me less in a position to really want to be friends with my fellow teachers. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again…they often, in large groups, are happy to have me stand up for them, but don’t really do the same back. That’s key to friendships. I don’t want to be at a school that needs a disciplinary turn around. Definitely…I don’t need to be the Principal’s “Right Hand” or “Prime Minister”…because when politics change, that goes poorly.

The art is about all of this. About busting out of the cube farm at Beaudry, freed by loyal clones, and going off to better things.

Hopefully, I am too.


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