Friday, November 27, 2015

Human Relations, Charter School Style

My Inbox for October 27, 2015, contained the usual collection of SPAM, ads, and offers to transfer millions of dollars to the U.S. from a prince in Nigeria. But one letter was most unexpected and not in the least routine. A teacher at Challenge Charter School in Glendale, Arizona, wrote, not to ask for help, but to let me know what is going on at one of the area's celebrated educational institutions.

I had written previously about this charter school:

A man named Greg Miller is president of the Arizona State Board of Education. There is also a man named Greg Miller who is CEO of Challenge Charter School in Glendale, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. Matching up photos of the Board president and the charter CEO leaves no doubt that these two individuals are one in the same Greg Miller. Mr. Miller, a civil engineer for 25 years, founded Challenge Charter School in the late 1990s and for a while served as principal. His current title is CEO. ... [D]aughter Wendy Miller was appointed Principal of Challenge Charter School the same year in which she earned her MBA.

Greg Miller, the CEO of a school "system" with about 650 students, is being compensated to the tune of $145,000 annually. His wife receives the same salary, though her duties are never enumerated at the website and her position is only described as "Executive Director/Vice-PR" .... Wendy, who has degrees in Public Administration and Business, receives a salary of more than $120,000 for acting as Principal/Secretary. Basically, the Miller family, while working assiduously 60 hours a week each as reported on their IRS form, is taking about $425,000 a year out of the coffers for salary.

End of my blog post from February 2, 2015

A roughly half-million $ annual salary to three family members might be a great investment for educating 650 students in the world's greatest school. But my correspondent's letter of October 27th and other information lead me to believe that perhaps the Millers are not operating one of the world’s greatest educational institutions.

Herewith, my correspondent’s experiences:

‪Hello Dr. Glass,‬

‪I read with interest your article about Greg Miller and Challenge Charter School. I would add more to it if I may. I was employed as a sixth-grade teacher at CCS from July to September 25, 2015. I was originally hired in March because they were going to move a long-time employee to the position of vice principal. The woman's husband was then offered a job out of state and she was moving with him. ‬

‪I began my work with CCS in July and they loved me. The week of September 21, 2015, my job appeared to unravel. The Millers kept a constant eye on me with the video cameras they have in every classroom that are meant for student and teacher protection , not evaluation. On one occasion that week, I was having my students stretch at the end of our class session and Greg Miller came into my classroom yelling at me and the children. He told me to "get back to your job." After school that day, he called me into his office to tell me a parent had called to complain; her child had reported that I "looked scared" when Mr. Miller was yelling at me. He denies that he was yelling at me; he stated he was yelling at the children.‬

‪The Millers called into question my certificate, which I had and gave them a new copy. Systematically the Millers began digging into my personal life. On Friday, September 25th , the morning I received feedback on my first evaluation and after a change to their policy handbook (which I did not get to see) I was called in front of the Millers, all three of them. The assistant to Wendy Miller told me that I had three choices. I could be terminated, resign, or take a three-month leave of absence to keep my medical insurance. They accused me of being drunk on the job and refusing to take a drug test. I have been sober for more than 20 years. They continued saying I was mentally unstable and did not disclose a major medical illness on my application. I was told not to fight them as they had hours of video-tape on me and my inability to teach. They went further saying they had "called around about me" and said I was on heavy-duty medication. I was shocked. I took the leave of absence and was told to leave campus. ‬

‪I am writing to tell you this because people are afraid of Greg Miller. He is a bully, and he and his family have created a hostile work environment, firing teachers at will. The irony is the teacher who has taken my place was the one whom I replaced. She just happened to be on campus September 25th. It was announced in a staff meeting that I was gone "dealing with my problems" and that this teacher was gracious enough to return for the rest of the year.‬

‪My career in teaching is over — 16 years of doing what I truly loved. They have ruined my name. I want people to know what the Millers are, and how horribly they can treat people to get what they want. ‬ ‪

Regards,‬
‪[Name withheld]

I wrote back immediately to this teacher to ask if she was willing to have this episode made public. She said that she was and that it was important to bring to light how this charter school was operating. I suggested that she remain anonymous when I reproduce her letter in this blog. She replied that she had no wish to remain anonymous.
‪I do not wish any level of anonymity. I am to report back to the school on January 4, 2016, to be reassigned or terminated. Needless to say, I am sending my resignation January 3, 2016. ‬ ‪You may use my experience as much as you would like. There is another teacher they have done this to as well, but she walked out. They have served her with a demand letter from their attorneys, stating she needs to pay them the rest of her salary. ‬ ‪

I forgot to add that the Millers make all students wear uniforms from one company. Teachers are to check students’ tags to make sure they are from that company. It is my understanding that they receive a kickback from the company.‬

‪I am sure this is just the beginning of the battle that I am going to engage with them.‬ ‪Thank you for helping me get the word out so other teachers are not taken in and spit out by the Millers.‬

‪Regards,
‬ ‪[Name withheld]

I continue to think that this teacher could be retaliated against, and that her anonymity in this venue is wise. However, if someone has good reason to contact her, I will forward that request to her email address. You may contact me at gvglass@gmail.com

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
~            
University of Colorado Boulder
National Education Policy Center
~            
San José State University


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the National Education Policy Center, Arizona State University, University of Colorado Boulder, nor San José State University.

3 comments:

  1. A suggestion. If anyone wants to contact this teacher through you and asks you to forward an attachment or their e-mail. DON'T!

    Instead, copy and paste it into a word document, highlight the entire message and then click "Clear Formatting". Code can be hidden where you don't see it and this will probably get rid of any Trojan horse that some corporate pirate is using tho track down and punish anyone who dares to speak out about their crimes.

    Then you can copy and paste that word document into an e-mail to forward to the anonymous Charter school teacher who blew the whistle.

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  2. I, too, worked at this school as one of the many office staff that they have been through in the past several years. Their H.R. Management is completely lacking. Once, when I was in a building workroom working on a computer, Mr. Miller came into a classroom of which a parent of one of the students was observing, and, went off, yelling at the teacher in front of all the students and the parent. Most of the children were in tears as Mr. Miller escorted the teacher out of the classroom. When I was back in the office, the parent that was observing the class withdrew her child from the school. The teacher was fired that day. I still don't know what it was about, but Mr. Miller was questioning her ability to teach.

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    Replies
    1. I wish you could contact me. CCS is going after two teachers at the moment.

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