A principal concern

Leader's outburst needlessly overshadows school's health issues

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If a student had carried himself as poorly as Principal Hartley Gibbons did at the school board meeting Tuesday night, he would be taken before a disciplinary tribunal and likely punished.

The principal at Terrace Manor Elementary School attempted to commandeer a Richmond County Board of Education committee meeting Tuesday night, talking over board members’ warnings that he was out of order and having to be escorted out by school safety officers.

When Terrace Manor came up 46th of 63 schools on a list of construction projects, he’d gone ballistic – jumping from his seat and loudly addressing the board from the microphone. He argued the 49-year-old school has problems with asbestos and mold and is making his teachers sick.

We certainly understand fears of sick buildings. Yet, the district has had this school inspected twice by two different entities, as recently as Nov. 6 and in mid-September, and neither inspection found mold or asbestos problems.

Perhaps the district could go the extra mile and interview staff and mull over whatever health records are available.

But the school board was presented with another concern at the school now, and that’s the principal.

If Mr. Gibbons countenanced such outbursts in his classrooms, his school would really
be sick. It would have to be closed, or put under new management.

What an awful lesson he gave the kids Tuesday, not to mention those who work under him.

Making his outburst even more outrageous is the fact that Terrace Manor has had millions spent on it in various phases over recent years, in increments of $661,000 and $3.3 million – the latter coming in a complete renovation in 2005. And although he threatened to go to the press inside the school board auditorium, once outside he refused to discuss his concerns with willing reporters. Instead, he paraded himself up and down the otherwise deserted sidewalk outside the district office wearing signs proclaiming his school unsafe.

This is no way for a principal to comport himself.

What does he want the district to do? Act on his own hunch, which flies in the face of scientific evidence? Who’s the unreasonable party in this affair?

Even if he felt the district was unresponsive, throwing a tantrum is no substitute for thoughtful, even bold action. As an alternative to his outburst, might he have marshaled staff and supporters in a respectful show of force at the meeting – and perhaps opened the matter up for comment to the press afterward?

Again, a student exhibiting such disregard for order and procedure would be disciplined. A principal, who ought to know better than a student, should receive no less. And that means more than paid leave, as he was put on Wednesday.

Late this week he announced he’s retiring.

We appreciate his evident passion for his employees’ welfare. But his behavior hardly serves their interests.

Again, we stand with the parents and teachers. If they’re still concerned about the health of the school, the district ought to keep looking into it. There are more invasive tests that can be performed. Consolidation of schools also might be something to consider.

But no one should approve of what this principal did. What if everyone behaved that way? What if students were that insolent to authority? How long would teachers and administrators put up with that?

“It’s a shame he had to do this,” one Terrace Manor patron said in support of Gibbons.

We agree.

Except that he didn’t.

Comments (18) Add comment
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soapy_725
43598
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soapy_725 11/17/12 - 08:56 am
0
0
Have you walking in his shoes?
Unpublished

How many times had he asked to be heard? We do not know the truth about this and probably will not. How loud do you need to scream to awaken the deaf and dead bureaucrats. The early retirement is a good move for him since the retirement rules are changing. Maybe this was a last "gasp" of breath in behalf of a sick school.

seenitB4
84100
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seenitB4 11/17/12 - 09:47 am
5
1
Maybe he did over react but

This statement made me choke...

But no one should approve of what this principal did. What if everyone behaved that way? What if students were that insolent to authority? How long would teachers and administrators put up with that?

ARE YOU KIDDING.....we read on here everyday how kids mis behave in school...just today we read that one kid had a gun-ammo- & weed in his pockets.....& their outbursts are weekly....soo they must put up with it ALL THE TIME.....geez...don't yall read your own paper??

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 11/17/12 - 10:40 am
3
5
I wonder how this principal

I wonder how this principal has performed in the past. He's retirement age, so if there has been a major shift in his behavior,;it's possible there is a medical or severe personal problem. I hope he gets helped.

Truth Matters
6475
Points
Truth Matters 11/17/12 - 10:46 am
5
5
A matter of "principal"--principle

There is a bigger lesson here in terms of how the ACES views poor comportment. We ALL have a responsibility to teach our youth by example, whether we are educators, law enforcement officers, clergy, politicians, parents, or neighbors. But the group that gets the most publicity tends to be political figures, and they have failed miserably in setting an example of how public figures should behave. (I am doing a google search to find ACES’ condemnation of that group for not being a better model for our youth who may one day want to go into public service when they represent the party of the AC’s owner.)

Civility should always be the course when trying to convince others of ones point of view. But to illustrate the ACES’ hypocrisy, I can think of a few reasons this principal may have behaved this way.
1) He saw a video of Rep. Paul Broun throwing down "Obamacare" law in a town hall meeting; not to mention the conduct of Tea Party members shouting down congressmen at Town Hall meetings during the summer of 2009/2010.
2) He watched Rep. Joe Wilson, SC yell, "you lie" to the free leader of the world.
3) Maybe just this week he saw Sen. John McCain ask a reporter, “who the hell are you to question me?” (Actually, the principal’s outburst occurred prior to this exchange, but you get the point.)

Now, for the responder who will list bad behavior by progressives, I concede it’s done by both and this paper seeks every opportunity to list them so there is no need for me to recount them in this limited space.
What your readers want is less hypocrisy. That’s how a news organization builds credibility with its readers. For that I would give thanks during this Thanksgiving Season.

Truth Matters
6475
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Truth Matters 11/17/12 - 10:57 am
7
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Principal

A few years ago a certain faction began to ridicule people for excercising "political correctness." Amazingly, what some called political correctness was what my parents taught their children was old fashioned manners.

Tone and how we speak to people matters. In fact, how we address those who do not agree with us speaks more about our character than theirs.

We all need to get back to respecting each other. We can disagree without being disagreeable. That is a time true lesson for all our us.

willie7
934
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willie7 11/17/12 - 11:09 am
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A-Men! A-Men!-- Truth Matters
Unpublished

A-Men! A-Men!-- Truth Matters

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 11/17/12 - 11:15 am
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3
Truth does matter, but it

Truth does matter, but it isn't your's or mine that does. Respect is important in communicating and building relationships, but strong words are sometimes required for harsh situations.. The key is knowing how, when, where and with whom. Christ is the model for all of it.

Retired Army
17512
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Retired Army 11/17/12 - 11:34 am
6
3
When the health and saftey of

When the health and saftey of the children that folks are charged with protecting is involved, I want every teacher or school official to take every peacable manner of action to get a resolution instead of a cover up.

And Truth Matters, you are spot on with the pointing to ACES selective hypocrisy.

justthefacts
21089
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justthefacts 11/17/12 - 11:35 am
4
2
political correctness

PC had nothing to do with respect. It was about denying reality in order to prevent hurting someone's sensibilities.

Lee Benedict
1560
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Lee Benedict 11/17/12 - 11:35 am
6
0
Lost in this...

is that HG requested (properly, I suspect) that his name be added to the public comments segment of the meeting. From what I have gathered, he did make a formal request to be heard, a request that was denied. Why?

As for all of the money that was allocated for his school, all I can say is that I have seen millions spent at location for (unnecessary and for show) x, y, and z, when a smaller amount was needed for a and b. Point being, just because money was spent at his school does not equate to being spent addressing a problem or an issue.

I have no idea what's going on, but it appears to me and many others I have spoken with that there is more to the story that is not being made public, and, probably for good reason. At the end of the day, if the parents and teachers suspect that there is a problem with mold, asbestos, whatever, rest assured, it will be made known.

dahreese
4703
Points
dahreese 11/17/12 - 06:19 pm
5
1
"When Terrace Manor came up
Unpublished

"When Terrace Manor came up 46th of 63 schools on a list of construction projects, he’d gone ballistic – jumping from his seat and loudly addressing the board from the microphone. He argued the 49-year-old school has problems with asbestos and mold and is making his teachers sick."

This article has put down this situation more than it needed to.

As I viewed the clip of the "outburst", it was obvious the man cares about his staff and his students. As to his picketing alone outside the board meeting it was obvious he was angry and not in a mood to talk to the media.

Probably not a few of his teachers would support his position if they could do so without fear of the board taking their jobs.

P.S. The title above, "A Principal Concern" is incorrect. It should read, "A Principle Concern", since it's the "principle" of the "principal's" actions that are being put down.

Lee Benedict
1560
Points
Lee Benedict 11/17/12 - 11:46 am
5
2
Hypocrisy

Joe Wilson's "you lie!" remark did not bring to a halt the State of the Union Show. Joe Wilson did not request that his name be added to the list of those wishing to address the board.

Paul Broun did not "throw down" Obamacare. I was there. He held up a huge binder, and then dropped it, making the point that it was a huge piece of legislation. He dropped it...at a meeting that he held and that he requested and for which he (his office) made the arrangements. By the way, how's Obamacare working out? How many jobs have been lost thus far? And n.b., it hasn't been fully implemented. You wanted it and him...well here it is and it will only get worse.

Now, back to the actual editorial.

ColCo
629
Points
ColCo 11/17/12 - 11:49 am
4
3
Hyde Park

"What does he want the district to do? Act on his own hunch, which flies in the face of scientific evidence? Who’s the unreasonable party in this affair?"

The School Board's approach is exactly how Augusta Commissioners should have handled the Hyde Park contamination/relocation issue. Inspection after inspection produced no evidence that any widespread contamination existed, however, I guess Hyde Park falls under the category of if you say something enough, it becomes the truth.

Tullie
2930
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Tullie 11/17/12 - 11:52 am
4
0
Insolent Principal?

What if students were that insolent to authority?

They are, check out all the students that have been sent to Tubman Education Cen­ter Alternative Program. Pretty soon they are going to have to expand that school or open another one to accomodate all these students.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 11/17/12 - 12:03 pm
4
4
"If a student had carried
Unpublished

"If a student had carried himself as poorly as Principal Hartley Gibbons did at the school board meeting Tuesday night, he would be taken before a disciplinary tribunal and likely punished"

Actually not. Everyone has had an "outburst". Teachers are there to TEACH the children that there are other appropriate ways to express themselves.

Wouldn't punishing the student be the same as what happened to Gibbons...

Society wears FREE SPEECH boldy, yet doesn't really allow it...

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 11/17/12 - 12:06 pm
4
4
Christ DID flip over the
Unpublished

Christ DID flip over the tables in the temple.

Christ teaches you how to handle EVERY SITUATION that life will present to you.

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 11/17/12 - 12:49 pm
1
0
Did I just read that?
Unpublished

Dude, I'm a trippin' ya'll. I quote directly from paragraph 11 of this article: "What does he want the district to do? Act on his own hunch, which flies in the face of scientific evidence?" Did the Chronicle just use the term "scientific evidence"? Is that a typo? Did somebody slip something into my diet Moutain Dew? Is this some sort of social experiment being played on the people of Augusta? Am I on a crystal-meth bender? "Scientific evidence"? This from the paper that says [creationism / intelligent design] is factual and [Darwinian evolution] is unproven malarkey and bogus science - really? Am I in an episode of The Twilight Zone that hasn't been released? Do I get a prize for noticing that? What do I get?
"Scientific evidence" in the Chronicle is an oxymoron; like jumbo-shrimp, military-intelligence, or tough-love. The next thing you know, the Chronicle will be printing pro-evolution letters. Did the Earth just stop spinning?

Little Lamb
44866
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/12 - 12:55 pm
4
1
Hyde Park

Thank you, ColCo, for pointing out the similarities between the two situations. I had not made the connection, but your analogy is a true one. We read in the paper that the roof leaked at Terrace Manor for several years. Not that it wasn't patched during those years, but when you start patching a bad roof, you still experience leaks when other sections start leaking even though the patches fixed original problem areas. During this period of the leaky roof, some ceiling tiles exhibited the characteristic stain for all to see. It's entirely possible that black mold appeared from time to time for all to see. Then, RCBOE used a large chunk of ESPLOST taxes to completely replace the roof. The inspection this fall stated that the roof is intact and there is no leakage from the roof (they did point out a pathway for water under some doors that had no weatherstrips in place — you can bet that will be corrected soon). The inspection company made a clear statement that there is no mold problem and that the inside air is very good.

Now, of course, they did not make a statement that the building is mold-free, because that's an impractibility here in the humid south. But mold and other indoor air issues are being managed responsibly.

That principal and some of his hysterical teachers are remembering the bad old days and not accepting that the new roof has shut down a major moisture-entering pathway. I don't think the school system needs to go on with testing and inspections ad nauseum. Perhaps each October they can do cursory inspections until the hysteria dies down.

There are some people who will never believe the report of a peer-acknowledged professional scientific company when the report does not match their uninformed preconceived notion. You just have to ignore them and ask them to be quiet.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 11/17/12 - 05:04 pm
3
0
Perhaps the bottom line is,

Perhaps the bottom line is, whatever happened to real investigative reporting instead of opining?

One stumble and anyone can be media roasted...

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/17/12 - 05:25 pm
4
1
RCBOE got it right

As I said before a person at his level must be held to a much higher standard.

He is not only Chief Administrator at his school, he is authoritarian, disciplinarian, mediator, primary role model and has the assigned task of safety for 500+/- students.

His emotional outburst without any forthcoming apology for his utter lack of decorum, boldly underlined a deep problem with his ability to continue to hold the position.

I ask again.
Imagine you hired a person to watch over and educate your children 8 hours a day. One day that person suddenly displays this type of open combativeness to you (his employer), yelling and screaming at you, a lack of emotional control and readiness to blame you for undocumented problems publicly.

What if that person refused to leave on request opened a window to the public, and started shouting to everyone around, you were harming "his" kids.

How Long Would That Person Last Before You Terminated His Employment And Called The Police?

shrimp for breakfast
5422
Points
shrimp for breakfast 11/17/12 - 10:41 pm
2
0
Sometimes

You have to take a very over the top stance to get a bunch of brain dead RCBE members.
I think Mr. Gibbons was so fed up with the status quo that he had no choice but to do something that would get his problem noticed.
My wife is a counselor in one of Richmond county schools and she knows there is mold as she gets sick from it on a regular basis. I don't know about asbestos but there is definitely mold in Richmond county schools.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 11/18/12 - 12:58 am
2
0
ALL of this could have been

ALL of this could have been avoided if RCBOE had taken Mr. Gibbons serious; instead "they" chose to only have a non-invasive audit performed. A low buck ploy to appease; that is opening up a giant can of worms for them. You can NOT 100% validate the evidence of mold with visual or a simple air concentration test. The PPM will ALWAYS be erroneous due to the efficiency or lack of efficiency of the A/C recirculation system. RCBOE responded to Mr. Gibbons just like every other City politician does............"we don't really want to take this serious, but just in case, we will spend only a minimum amount of money on it. Knowing all the time that a non-invasive inspection is NEVER 100% accurate. RCBOE pretends to be righteous, and all the while "playing games with the health of our kids".............

Sure, Mr. Gibbons "lost it"............but, stonewalling politicians will make you lose it. And the media will ALWAYS make sure that you look bad for it.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/18/12 - 07:10 pm
1
1
Still need more proof

Like I said in an post, the morning following the principle going postal.

What is keeping any parent or any staff member from doing a self test and mailing the samples taken to an independent lab for evaluation?

Total cost less that $50

Hint: Davis Test Kit was rated #1

But a small word of caution.
unless you live in a Class 100 ISO 900# clean room were you assemble computer Hard Drives, you will have mold of some kind. Mold is part of nature. Look at old fruit, bread and etc.. it occurs naturally.

Check out the top ten kits available.
http://mold-test-kits-review.toptenreviews.com/
all kits are under $50.00

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/18/12 - 07:23 pm
0
0
Come on parents $50

with about 500 students that is just a penny a student.

Come on parents, just 1 penny per child is all it takes
to maybe prove the Principle right, despite 2 professional
certified mold detection companies saying otherwise.

Sorry to be so mean.
But at some point in any discussion it comes to a point that you have to show some personal self effort.

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