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Updated: Greenbrier staff accuses principal of unfairness

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Teachers at Greenbrier High School have accused their principal of poor leadership, unfairness and bullying.

Greenbrier High Principal Margie Hamilton  File
File
Greenbrier High Principal Margie Hamilton

A letter sent last week to Greenbrier High School Principal Margie Hamilton said she is "harsh, commanding and intimidating." Columbia County school officials released the letter Wednesday.

Though the letter's 14 authors recognize that the school has enjoyed multiple academic and athletic achievements during Hamilton's tenure, they say there was no "spirit of cooperation" between her and the staff.

Among those signing the letter, which also was sent to Superintendent Charles Nagle and school board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco, were Athletic Director Garrett Black, soccer coach Chip Warren, social studies teacher Lynn Hackett, foreign language teacher Melissa Heckathorn, math teacher Lindy Tickerhoff, and media center personnel Lisa Corradino and Patti Crouch. The remainder of the signatures are illegible.

Black refused last week to comment on the letter.

In a cover letter sent to Nagle, the educators noted that about 28 percent of the staff were not asked to sign the letter because they are new. Many more staff members refused to sign out of fear of losing their jobs, the letter said.

The authors wrote that Hamilton has created an atmosphere of "constant fear that permeates throughout the staff."

"The belief is that a 'list' is kept by you, and staff can and will be put on the list if you do not like them or perceive them to be disloyal to you," the letter said. "Those who have made the 'list' often have their personal job responsibilities unduly monitored and focused on in an effort to force them to seek employment elsewhere."

The letter also said Hamilton lacks communication skills, adds to the workload of only certain staffers, overly scrutinizes coaches, misrepresents directives by Nagle, and is rude to staff.

Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway said last week that the issues detailed in the letter will be handled internally by school officials.

Buccafusco said last week there are no plans by the school board to investigate accusations.

Phone calls to Greenbrier on Wednesday went unanswered.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

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Just My Opinion
5468
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Just My Opinion 09/29/10 - 04:52 pm
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First off, if so many

First off, if so many educated people are taking the "risk" of putting themselves out there and making waves like this, I would bet that there's something to it...you know, where's there's smoke, there's fire? These educated people are not dummies. They understand what can happen to them by doing this. Now, ironically, what they have done is to really PROTECT their positions....if something were to happen to any one of them now, it could easily and obviously be considered retaliation. As far as this going to Nagle, I think THAT is where these teachers had better watch their backs! He doesn't like for anything or anyone to make HIS school system look bad or mismanaged. I've seen it first hand how petty he can be. Something else I'd like to add to this, I was listening to Austin Rhodes today, because I wanted to see how he was going to bend this to make sure his wife (who works at the school) was protected and any attention on her would be deflected. Sure enough, Rhodes made it out that these teachers were baseless in their accusations because they weren't specific enough. What? Read the letter again...sounds like there are enough specifics in there to make the teacher's complaints clear. Rhodes is doing 2 things here...protecting his wife (can't blame him there), and getting on the good side of Nagle (he's already a bedfellow with Sleeper). He wants to make sure his lines of communication are left open when he needs information from them in the future.

raul
4625
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raul 09/29/10 - 04:55 pm
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Guess what? She is the boss.

Guess what? She is the boss. As long as Dr. Hamilton hasn't done anything illegal or immoral, disagreement with her management style is no basis for any disciplinary action. Maybe those signing the petition should seek emloyment elsewhere if they are that disatisfied with their working conditions. As a side note, I find it interesting that only seven of the fourteen signatures were legible.

csrareader
1287
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csrareader 09/29/10 - 04:58 pm
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How many teachers has

How many teachers has Greenbrier lost to other schools in the last few years? That might be an indicator of how the teachers view the GHS principal.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/29/10 - 05:08 pm
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These folks are not

These folks are not lightweights at Greenbrier. Something is amiss with this woman.

AsItIs
1
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AsItIs 09/29/10 - 05:08 pm
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csrareader, I wondered about

csrareader, I wondered about this when the Athletic Director quit and went to another CC school to Coach, couple of years back....how long have these folks been unhappy?

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 09/29/10 - 05:10 pm
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Rhodes' wife is probably on
Unpublished

Rhodes' wife is probably on another "list" Hamilton has. I've seen situations like this before in public schools. As long as the test scores are okay, the school makes AYP and the parents don't complain, Hamilton will be okay. Teachers are one thing, but if the parents get involved as in taking up for the teachers, we'll see an investigation.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 09/29/10 - 05:20 pm
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CC needs a Lou Svela so

CC needs a Lou Svela so bad.

Not knowing all the detals of this puts me at a disadvantage, but why would the BOE not investigate this?

jb1234
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jb1234 09/29/10 - 05:23 pm
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Can a copy of the letter be

Can a copy of the letter be placed online for the public to read? I'd like to see the letter in its entirety.

Just My Opinion
5468
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Just My Opinion 09/29/10 - 05:29 pm
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You know, one more thing that

You know, one more thing that I was looking at when I reread the article is that the perception that teachers' claims were not specific may have been intentional. Maybe the teachers wanted some sort of meeting with the principal and/or board personnel to explain these issues? I don't know Ms. Hamilton and I don't know if she's a good or a bad administrator. I just think the teachers complaints should be respectfully heard. If they're proven wrong, then so be it. But, if they're proven right, then the school may be all the better for it.

mable8
2
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mable8 09/29/10 - 05:56 pm
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If all the allegations are

If all the allegations are true, then why are half the signatures illegible? As long as the lady is doing HER job, the subordinates haven't a leg to stand on. Maybe she found them not doing their job, reprimanded them, and they don't like it. Well, there is always the unemployment line, or, in the alternative, these dissatisfied teachers can sign up to replace those foreign teachers we've been reading about. I have no sympathy for these individuals...either teach as you are supposed to or get out of the business.

wildman
1078
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wildman 09/29/10 - 06:36 pm
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Mr. Nagle and Dr. Hamilton

Mr. Nagle and Dr. Hamilton have both done a good job. If you manage this many employees you will surely have some that don't agree with everything you say or do. Since Mr. Rhodes is such an expert on any and everything I'm sure he could advise both on how to be better leaders. What a sad story, a few disgruntled employees trying to ruin someone's career. What happened to face to face conversations? I feel sorry for all involved.

littlek8
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littlek8 09/29/10 - 06:41 pm
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All of the parties involved

All of the parties involved are fully aware of who the 14 individuals are that signed the letter. I can assure you that they are hard working, dedicated professionals that have only the best interest of GHS and its students. These are seasoned teachers, many of which are department heads. They are well-respected by their peers, as well as the academic and athletic community. No one is head-hunting here, they are merely crying out for positive change to their work environment so that they can provide the best education and athletic opportunity available for their students. I personally applaud their efforts.

John Locke
295
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John Locke 09/29/10 - 07:01 pm
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Well well well, some were

Well well well, some were brave enough to challenge the Stepford mentality of Columbia County. A very good strategy, make it public for protection, really the only way to do it. Any time something happens in Columbia County schools, it takes days to find out and the administration does all it can to keep the information, or maybe the people, quiet. Run a list of CC schools employees and compare how many have the same last names. These teachers have something worth looking into. We'll see if that happens.

Just My Opinion
5468
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Just My Opinion 09/29/10 - 07:01 pm
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mable, you sound like you are

mable, you sound like you are either a supervisor (with NO one above you) or you have never had a job where you had supervisor you didn't think had EVER earned that position. Let's pretend that you were in a position where you felt your voice would not be heard by anyone at the immediate or head-administrative level. Mable, you have seen things that you feel are detrimental and divisive to yourself, your co-workers, and your customer base (in this case, students). What do you do? Sure, you could quit, as you suggest. But what about your co-workers or the customers? Can't you see this as an almost desperate act by desperate people? And don't forget, these are all intelligent, professional people who have decided to take this course of action. You can't give them the benefit of the doubt? Like I said before, I don't know if they are right or wrong, but they deserve to be heard, and their jobs protected with regards to the way they've approached it. If MY children went to this school, I'd want to know more about what was going on...right or wrong.

Gwennie
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Gwennie 09/29/10 - 07:09 pm
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Being very close to a

Being very close to a previous employee of Greenbrier High, I have first-hand knowledge and can say that "where there's smoke, there's fire." In fact, the school has become an inferno! Mable8, it sounds like you have no personal knowledge of the environment at GHS and should probably keep your comments to yourself. I know these individuals are doing their jobs and are doing them well - while immersed in a hostile working environment. And by the way, what does an illegible signature have to do with an allegation? Have you read a doctor's signature lately? Would you tell your doctor to find another profession because the signature on your prescription is illegible? Personally, I think this group of individuals has shown admirable character and unbelievable courage in speaking out about a miserable situation. The students are their number one priority, and these educators are doing their very best to provide a quality education for Columbia County's students while working under duress. I do not believe any of them is trying to ruin the principal's career; they are merely telling the truth and want only the best for Greenbrier High and its students.

badassie
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badassie 09/29/10 - 07:11 pm
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All this because come one is

All this because come one is making them do their jobs and is cracking the whip. I see that many of those complaining would never make it in the military. Usually a superior won't do that unless they feel it is necessary to get their subordinates on the right track. What else is it that hasn't come to light so far? I'm a betting man and I bet several of the people complaining were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 09/29/10 - 07:25 pm
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We are hearing one side of

We are hearing one side of the story. Looks like that's probably all we are going to hear.

badassie
0
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badassie 09/29/10 - 07:29 pm
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I don't hear any students

I don't hear any students complaining! They will have knowledge of this if it exist. Many will tell their parents as well. But not complaining thus far! Hmmm

thatgirl
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thatgirl 09/29/10 - 07:30 pm
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I am a good friend of a GHS

I am a good friend of a GHS teacher. She has the utmost respect for Dr. Hamilton and considers GHS a great place to work. I think badassie is correct.

Crazy
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Crazy 09/29/10 - 07:56 pm
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Dr. Hamilton is doing her

Dr. Hamilton is doing her job! Every work place has unhappy employees. Because this is a Columbia County school it is publicized and Dr. Hamilton is criticized. Dr. Hamilton is a wonderful leader and a compassionate teacher. She is only doing her job the way it ought to be done. These unhappy teachers are trying to ruin her career and it is sad. If these teachers did their jobs they wouldn't have problems with Dr. Hamilton. To Gwennie, you don't have much of a leg to stand on. One teacher told you some things about her experience. Big deal. Mable8 is right! Dr. Hamilton is the boss, period. If they don't like it then they should leave. They need to be happy they have a job when so many are unemployed!!!

ghsstudent
0
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ghsstudent 09/29/10 - 08:11 pm
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Badassie, the reason you dont

Badassie, the reason you dont hear students complaining about this is because we have no knowledge of how Dr. Hamilton manages her staff. Personally, as a senior at Greenbrier, I am afraid and intimidated by Dr. Hamilton. I also know that I am not the only one. I am not saying that she isnt doing a good job at managing our school because I know that Greenbrier is seen as an outstanding school both academically and athletically. I just wish that Dr. Hamilton was more personable and less intimidating to her students. A principle should be someone that any student can feel that they can go talk to at anytime. Instead, most students at Greenbrier are scared to even talk to her.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 09/29/10 - 08:21 pm
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Dr. Hamilton holds people

Dr. Hamilton holds people acountable for their actions, does not accept medrocity and manages a school with multiple positive acheivements. The majority of teachers do a great job (so do some of these) and do not agree with this letter nor the way is was handled. She is in charge, does a good job and if you don't like it then leave, you can easily be replaced.

Gwennie
0
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Gwennie 09/29/10 - 08:22 pm
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"Badassie" and "thatgirl," I

"Badassie" and "thatgirl," I think you're on to something. Perhaps the principal should join the military...she'd be a perfect drill sargeant. The last time I checked, Columbia County Schools are not military schools and school employees are civilians while on the job for CCBOE. To "crazy," how do you know how much information I have? You should probably read my comments again...unless you have the amazing ability to read minds through the World Wide Web. Did I say the words "teacher" or "she"? I did not speak of only one person's experience. My comments were about the entire school. And by the way, I do have both legs and am thankfully able to stand on both, but thank you for your concern.

coolette
10
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coolette 09/29/10 - 08:44 pm
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Well some of the teachers

Well some of the teachers that signed the letter are not that great. I have heard many parents of the math teacher complain of not entering grades in a timely manner, one student didn't even get a progress grade. So, I'm not sure what to think, perhaps some were on a slack list. Also, the foreign language teacher is the department chair, but only works part time. How can a department chair only work part time? How does that serve the parents and student? That is something that should be changed. What if every department chair worked part time? How effective would that be?

Austin Rhodes
2854
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Austin Rhodes 09/29/10 - 08:52 pm
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The Greenbrier Mutiny Letter

The Greenbrier Mutiny Letter is available for review in all its glory at "The Austin Rhodes Show" fan page on Facebook. Don't miss the cover letter, its a doozey!

secretagentman
2
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secretagentman 10/01/10 - 04:56 pm
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The truth at GHS is somewhere

The truth at GHS is somewhere in between the letter-writers and the die-hard supporters of Dr Hamilton. Overall, though, working at GHS is a pleasure and if you do your job and dont seek out trouble, you do not have much to worry about. The majority of the students are great kids and we have all the materials/technology and discipline support we need. Ultimately, I think this is very damaging to the very morale these teachers thought they needed to improve by going after Dr Hamilton in this manner.

coolette
10
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coolette 09/29/10 - 09:12 pm
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What happened to Austin's

What happened to Austin's post. I was trying to find the actual letter.

DancinChick
0
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DancinChick 09/29/10 - 09:31 pm
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Almost every single one of

Almost every single one of the teachers listed has been at Greenbrier since Hamilton took over. I think they have had all they can take. They have stuck it out while so many others left and they are saying enough is enough. Good for them!

To all of you who are basically telling these teachers to sit down and shut up, shame on you! Teachers tell our children to go out and make a difference, and yet you expect these teachers to just sit quietly and do nothing? I applaud them for trying to make a difference in a situation they are unhappy with. Although test scores and AYP are important, there is more to life...

Tisk tisk what is this world coming to
0
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0
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I just love it when people

I just love it when people say if you don't like it then you an leave. Good grief how shallow minded can a person be. Leaving is what cowards do. It takes guts to stand up and say what they did and put their name to it.

If there is nothing wrong with Dr. Hamilton's management style then there shouldn't be any problem with her letting an outside investigator coming in to look at the issues. Nagel should welcome it. But it will never happen.

With an open door policy and transparency things will get better. It alway does. Cream always rises to the top.

nofrillls13
0
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nofrillls13 09/29/10 - 10:11 pm
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Teachers be aware that your

Teachers be aware that your schools won't settle on anything but your best from here on. No more hiding behind the true good teachers you work with. Marge isn't looking for friends she wants results and so do the mom's and dad's.

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