Letter claims workplace bullying at Peabody High

5 Nov

We often get tips and info from our readership, and I’d like to continue to encourage people to do that as we keep our elected officials accountable with this blog. The following letter was mailed to me right before schools opened this year.

It involves a serious problem with workplace bullying of teachers and others at Peabody High, which has become a hostile workplace. This handwritten, very thoughtful letter below was written about a serious situation at the high school that is being ignored right now by those who make policy for our schools.

BTW, Peabody High has been put on Level 3 probationary status by the state, which is just one level above the status where the state is forced to take over and run a school or school system.

I hope it helps you make a decision on who to give your school committee votes to in Tuesday’s election.

Thanks for reading,




46 Responses to “Letter claims workplace bullying at Peabody High”

  1. Concerned Educator November 5, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. This type of problem is rampant in schools all over. I know firsthand this happens in Lynn as well. Teachers and staff are miserable and too afraid to speak up. They are treated like garbage, completely unappreciated, and the demands from admins just keep on coming. Admins need to be stopped, but people are too afraid to speak out because retaliation is guaranteed.

  2. Anonymous November 5, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    This is a shame. i personally know of several teachers who have taken early retirement because of this situation. Something needs to be done.

  3. High school teacher November 5, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    I won’t name names since you probably would not let me do it here anyhow but let’s just say most of the problem is being caused by one administratior, who treats many teachers and others like dirt. The letter writer, who I think I might know too, is right: nothing is being done about it, and it’s really hard somedays going to school.

  4. Anonymous November 5, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    I can’t believe the school committeee would hire the assistant superintendent to take over as superintendent. She knows what’s happening at the high school and is complicit by doing nothing. We’re in level 3 right now and if we make this hire surely will go to level four. Why is our school committee doing nothing on this matter. Everyone knows about It including the mayor

    • Long time teacher November 6, 2017 at 10:25 am #

      The problem will not be resolved as long as the school system continues to fill positions with the same old cronies. We had viable superintendent options and the position is being held open for someone specific. We ALL know it.

  5. Teacher November 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

    Thank you for posting this.

  6. Long time teacher November 6, 2017 at 6:56 am #

    I support the letter writer. That letter is anonymous out of necessity. I see it every day. We are all afraid to go against the grain here because we need our jobs and it isn’t easy to get out of a school system once your are in it for a while. School systems want to hire the young, inexperienced teachers who get paid less than those of us who have been teaching for some time.

    • Heads Up November 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

      Long time teacher,

      Perhaps you can answer this question: A number of years ago under the Bonfanti adm. the city petitioned the state to allow “early retirement” for senior Peabody teachers in order to lower the high costs for experienced teachers to the city and bring in newly trained teachers with the latest teaching technics at a much lower pay scale. A plus-plus for the Peabody school system.

      Note: I remember reading in the Salem Snooze about the influx of new teachers to Peabody.

      Can you fill us in?

      • Long time teacher November 6, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

        I agree! It would be an excellent idea. I, for one, would welcome the opportunity. That is something I never dreamed I would say, but it is more and more difficult to teach at PVMHS.

  7. Casey A November 6, 2017 at 8:06 am #

    I think we should put Dave McGeney back on the school committee. He will get to the bottom of this! 🙂

    • Shan November 6, 2017 at 10:40 am #

      Are you kidding me! He was part of the problem.

      • Casey A November 6, 2017 at 11:02 am #

        Don’t be mean and nasty. Dave is a wonderful person and family man. He really knows how to take care of people. Wink, wink … I think I love him.

    • Shan November 6, 2017 at 11:20 am #

      I’m not being mean and nasty. Just stating my opinion as are you. Being a wonderful family man has nothing to do with being on the school committee.
      Also his wife was a employee of the Peabody school system for many years and went to another district. Wink wink. It couldn’t have been all good in the Peabody school system.

  8. Anonymous November 6, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    I graduated from PVMHS under several members of the current administration. This letter is very much the case at Peabody High. The members of the administration, from the highest levels, see their jobs as solely disciplinary. They forget they are leaders of a learning community. They talk down to teachers in front of students. They seek little to no input or suggestion from the faculty and staff. They are completely uncomfortable with change. Conflicts between community members go unresolved and ignored. People with questionable records are hired and promoted.

    It’s a shame because Peabody High actually has some great qualities. It offers a more diverse collection of classes than any school around. It has many dedicated teachers who passionately inspire their students every day. It is usually these teachers who are the target of the administration’s ignorance. It’s safe to say the administration displays the symptoms of a group power trip.

    I’ve spoken with teachers who have worked at Peabody High for decades and they are not afraid to say that the morale at the school is the worst they have ever seen it. That comes from the top.

  9. Please pay attention November 6, 2017 at 8:54 am #

    This letter is very true on all levels, and I still can’t for the life of me understand why the mayor doesn’t seem to care. There is definitely a hostile work environment at the high school. The kids are great. The class offerigs are great, but it is all being ruined by one certain administrator. The kids will confirm this too.

  10. PFT November 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    Thank you for posting. This is the talk of the high school this morning.

    • Anonymous November 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      And yet you do NOTHING!

      • Guess who? November 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

        Yeah gotta love the PFT chiming in when they have ignored this problem for YEARS. Sure doesn’t help that the union president hasn’t actually been in a classroom for over a decade.

  11. Anonymous November 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    From a teacher who has been at PVMHS for a number of years the atmosphere is toxic basically because of one administrator.
    Our school offers so much yet this administrator tries to humiliate teachers and staff who go above and beyond to educate these great kids

  12. PVMHS Educator November 6, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

    PVMHS is just a symptom of a School Administration that rules through bullying. The School Committee appears apathetic or unwilling to ask the necessary questions. Central Administration’s hiring practices are shameful and riddled with cronyism including hiring members of the School Committee’s relatives even without the proper certifications. The practice of posting positions with qualifications being vague or “ certifiable within a year” and not choosing qualified candidates should be investigated by DESE. With all do respect to educators in Salem, why have they became the CHOICE for Peabody when filling upper Administration positions. Last time I checked they were a Level 3 or 4. PVMHS ranks 18 percentile from the bottom statewide in MCAS scoring, but we choose to believe a Superintendent who tells the public that things are improving (Yes last year we were at the 17 percentile). It’s not just about 1 Administrator that bullies staff in front of others, it’s about a culture of bullying that is being allowed from the top and pervasive in Peabody, especially at PVMHS from the Principal, Vice Principal and at least one of the Deans.

    • Long time teacher November 7, 2017 at 8:27 am #

      I agree. There is one administrator that garners the most attention due to egregious behavior in public, but there is a quieter form of harrassment that is not noticed as often because it is sneakier.

  13. Guess who? November 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    I see a lot of Cara -bashes here, but I don’t think she’s the problem. She’s just playing the game of Peabody politics (wonderfully, I might add).
    The REAL problem is what appointing Ms Murtagh superintendent represents…the loss of any hope for significant changes in the school system and more of the “same old same old”. If level 3 didn’t make them question their vision, will level 4?

    • YouKnowWho November 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

      It’s all about appearances. We don’t want real change, we want to look like we are making real changes.

      “Our class sizes are too big”
      “But, look at the new gym floor!”

      “We are a level 3 district, and are in danger of the state taking over.”
      “Look at our AP numbers!”

      “The roof in my classroom is leaking, and we’ve had no heat since 2004”
      “Have you seen the beautiful new auditorium?!”

      “We have an experienced superintendent interested in the position, who has turned around several districts”
      “But Cara is such a nice woman, She works so hard!”

      See a common theme here?

      • PVMHS Student November 11, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

        I was a student at Peabody High and I can tell you what yoir saying is 1000000% true. I pity all the future students. That school needs to get their act together or having the state take over won’t be such a bad thing. It’s a he’ll hole and a shit show there.

    • Heads Up November 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

      If you can’t teach….You administer. Sounds about right here for Peabody. Heads Up! Have you ever heard of the Peter Principal? Plenty of examples here in Peabody.

      Level FOUR here we come!! City Council anyone?

      • Long time teacher November 6, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

        Our fearless leader at PVMHS is the text book example of the Peter Principle.

  14. Anonymous November 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    Not really all that surprising when you consider how long it took them to fire (or force to resign) a certain teacher accused of sexually harassing students

  15. left PVMHS November 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

    I was not shocked to read the letter or any of the following comments. I am a Peabody resident, my own children went through the Peabody school system. I taught at PVMHS for over 20 years, and I LOVED MY JOB! My evaluations indicated that I was exceptional at my job. Over the last few years, the incidences of oppressive behaviors and unprofessional treatment of staff was more than I was willing to put up with. After an incident that was my “last straw” moment, I applied for a position at another school. Even though the position was a much higher paying teaching/department head position, the decision to leave PVMHS was an emotional and heart wrenching for me to make. I loved my students, and the teachers and staff at the school. I did not want to go, but I had to go. I miss PVMHS everyday, but I do not miss the oppressive tactics that get in the way of what the job should be and that is to TEACH AND GUIDE KIDS! After making the decision, I felt that I was professionally responsible to the Peabody School Department to be honest about why I was quitting my job. I spoke truthfully and personally to the Principal and Superintendent about my decision. The problems at the school are well known within the building, the School Committee and the community as a whole. The students deserve happy and respected teachers and the City of Peabody should not be complacent about giving them what they rightfully deserve for their quality of education.

  16. PVMHS Educator November 6, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

    A budget that was looking like it needed trimming was approved by an unquestioning School Committee as the Superintendent sugar coated the new hires. We lost a Director of Athletics through retirement and we are a Level 3 District, don’t worry, we will hire a Director of Athletics who came from Salem and a Social Studies Major and give him two Phys Ed Department Heads for about 15 P.E. Teachers in the District and hire another phys. ed teacher that should even things out.
    A Guidance Director who comes from Salem (in the process of moving him out from there) and a Director of Curriculum and Technology and we promise the School Committee they will be short money. Superintendent knows School Committee members will never check the figures on actual salaries. A Business Department who should be under the Vocational Director gets a new Department Head… That should improve our status.

    • YouKnowWho November 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

      Regarding your last statement; why does pvmhs even have a “vocational director?” Didn’t most of the vocational classes get the axe once Essex tech came around? What does he even direct? I suspect he’s making around 100k, and can’t be in charge of many more than 10 people (electronics, culinary, cosmo?) Wouldn’t it have just made more sense to promote someone to culinary dept head, cosmetology dept head; etc?

      • PVMHS Educator November 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

        A Director makes sense since DESE funds full Vocational Programs and brings Peabody revenue.

  17. PVMHS Educator November 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    Two cosmetology teachers for a dozen students not a problem at PVMHS, bullying is one of our problems but a watchful School Committee needs to be asking more questions to raise our Level 3 and be accountable to the taxpayers concurrently.

    • Anonymous November 7, 2017 at 6:25 am #

      I noticed that Beverly Dunne commented about this long time bullying of teachers by at least 2 adminstrators on FB at PVMHS ,” you know you are in Peabody when”, but how come no other school committee person has responded?

  18. PVMHS Educator November 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    As far as a level 3 school, the Superintendent needs to look elsewhere besides the traditional culprits. Data from DESE indicates that ELL students improved significantly and ARE NOT the reason for our current status.

  19. Anonymous November 7, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    As a Peabody parent of a current PVMHS student, these comments and accusations about the atmosphere @ PH are crushing to read. Based on what I’m reading, and while the letter author is anonymous, there are several “insider” posters validating these claims. As a result, I will not be voting for any SC incumbents. Fair, maybe, maybe not, but clearly change is needed.

  20. Anonymous November 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    This is cowardly – making anonymous accusations like this and damaging people’s reputations without merit. Of all people, we teachers have so much protection in our jobs. After working for 3-5 yers, we know we cant be fired because of tenure and we also have protection from the union. So claiming people fear for their jobs seems impossible. Why aren’t these teachers getting the union involved? Or if it’s that bad, get legal assistance? I am proud to be one of many excellent teachers, but I can also say there a a handful of miserable teachers who don’t want to be there and are just waiting it out so they can collect a higher pension, and in the meantime they stir up trouble. This is not good for students. Notice that several responses were written during the school day when they should be teaching? They can’t take it that they might actually be told to do something or get reprimanded for doing something wrong. Or God forbid, they may be told “no” when asking for permission or funds. The griping at lunch is disgusting. I wish they would realize that in the business world they would be out of a job with a days notice. People, we get summers and vacations off. And after the stress and demands of the job, we need the time to re-energize, but we do get it. If you love teaching so much, then talk about the good things happening or the amazing kids you have and be happy. I have never had a problem with administration and I believe its because I treat them with respect.

    • Anonymous November 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

      You do realize that you just accused people of being cowardly for posting anonymously, yet you just posted anonymously too? LOL! Not buying it that you are a teacher at the high school. Nice post Eric. Or was it from our future super?

      • Yeah Right November 7, 2017 at 4:56 pm #

        Yup agreed. I would accuse this “Peabody high teacher” of being a hypocrite for posting anonymously; but that would mean I actually believe they are a teacher! Nice try, whoever you are.

      • Anonymous November 7, 2017 at 6:44 pm #

        First off, I am very aware that I posted anonymously too. If its fair for you, it’s fair for me too. I would be insulted that you tried to call out names for the post, and suggest that I am not who I say I am, but I would have to care about your opinion to be insulted, which I don’t.

      • Yeah Right November 7, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

        First you comment anonymously to shame the anonymous posters here, and then you reply to comments just to say that you don’t care about their opinions??? You must see the irony in both of those things.
        I hope you don’t teach persuasive writing! Then again, that would mean I believe you’re actually a teacher, which no one does.

    • PVMHS Educator November 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

      Correct, in the business world, you would be teaching full time and be gone without recourse. Tenure is no longer available and has been replaced by professional status with the possibility of dismissal for just cause. Recourse for being bullied goes beyond fearing for a job but rather working in a pleasant environment. Glad you deemed yourself an excellent teacher and are in Administration’s favor, perhaps you have been rewarded by that with a Department Head position or a few extra stipends.
      Keeping students in mind should be the focus… we are a Level 3 school and not one mention of it during this Monday’s monthly meeting, after DESE’s announcement, nor addressing the white elephant in the room. We prefer to seat and be read the agenda for the upcoming next day staff development.
      In the business world this Administration would be judged by their results…in the past four years we have gone from the 22nd percentile to the 18th from the bottom, in a city with so much potential and such a large budget is pathetic. Perhaps the cream of the crap from Salem will fix our woes or the next Superintendent who has done nothing to improve our status while an Assistant Superintendent will promote the Principal at PVMHS to be her mentor…

    • PVMHS Student November 11, 2017 at 9:54 pm #

      How is this person stirring up trouble for bringing to light all the things that make the job that they love terrible. You’re being extremely rude and disrespectful to this person. I go to Peabody High and I can tell you that the atmosphere there is terrible so reading this and seeing that teachers were bullied wasn’t a surprise. There are some really really really amazing teachers there who get ZERO credit and just get crapped on by admin because they’re doing their job the best way and not their way and kids really seem to like the best way. They also hire teachers who are completely awful. I’m one of my classes I get more help from a fellow student and understand more from that student than I do from the teacher who gets mad when a question is asked and is just gross overall, not to mention how boring that class is. I know not all classes are exciting everyday, but this class is so boring that when he’s done explaining the whole class and i mean the whole class is ASLEEP and I mean passed out. They need to do better with hiring teachers if they know they wanna see some sort of increase in scores and morale in that God forsaken place.

    • Anonymous November 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      To the “excellent teacher” who felt the need to point out that comments were made during the school day: ever heard of a prep period or lunch break?

      • PVMHS Student November 23, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

        Have you ever worked there or did you go to school there? Don’t.

  21. Anonymous November 12, 2017 at 7:36 am #

    Peabody high is functioning perfectly if your son or daughter is white and you are a ‘Peabody Person’…if not, good luck, as a parent phone call can get a failing student a diploma for some people, for others, there is no one to help except individual teachers, who still fight for every student even when working for incompetent administrators. I know, I have been teaching at PVMHS for over a decade.

    • PVMHS Student November 23, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 THANK YOU! You are 1000000% right!

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