Brain Drain in Atlanta! 
Teacher with Bipolar Disorder
Must Be Afforded Protection under the Law!
(All names have been redacted except for those of
Dr. Trotter, the Superintendent, and Attorney Ramay.)

November 20, 2006




Beverly Hall, Superintendent

Atlanta Public Schools

130 Trinity AVE, S.W.

Atlanta GA  30303



Dear Mrs. Hall:


     I write you out of concern for Mr. Earnest Haynes, a teacher at Baldwin High School.  Over the past few years, a lack of sensitivity to Mr. Haynes’s handicapping condition by administrators at Baldwin has caused the MACE staff (including a staff attorney and me) to address this situation in various and sundry ways.  I had hoped upon hearing of former Principal Gordon’s decamping for Fulton County Schools that Mr. Haynes’s treatment at Baldwin would improve.  I fear this is not the case.  I am in possession of two observations of Mr. Haynes’s teaching, observations created by the newly-appointed Principal Black.  These documents lead me to conclude that nothing has changed at Baldwin, and I am greatly aggrieved by this.  Must I yet again state that Mr. Haynes suffers from a disability that requires him to ingest multiple medications during the school day?  Because of this, Mr. Haynes enjoys heightened rights via Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  It is my understanding that Atlanta Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of disability; therefore, why is Principal Black apparently doing so?  Unless Mr. Haynes is afforded the professional treatment he deserves under ADA as well as Atlanta Public Schools’ rules and regulations, MACE will be forced to act on his behalf.


     Let me be specific.  Mr. Haynes suffers from bipolar disorder.  He takes fifteen pills in the morning and six in the evening.  These medications serve to center him as people who suffer from bipolar disorder typically swing from highs to lows without intermediating middle periods of calmness.  People with bipolar disorder have minds that race, and the medications help slow down these racing mental impulses.  Symptoms of this include rapid speech followed by stuttering when the bipolar individual tries to slow down his/her talking fast.  I can understand how someone new to Baldwin might not know about Mr. Haynes’s particular disability; however, I find it difficult to believe that Principal Black did not know.  Mr. Haynes tells me that he specifically went to Principal Black to discuss concerns about previous evaluations at Baldwin.  During the previous school year, Mr. Haynes was observed over twenty times by Assistant Principal Donaldson and by Department Chairperson Rice, both of whom, I believe, may have been complicit in former Principal Gordon’s apparent heavy-handed mismanagement style at Baldwin.  Mr. Haynes believes that they were out to “get” him, and I can attest to the fact that former Principal Gordon earned three pickets from MACE and innumerable letters of concern from unprofessionally-, unethically-, and possibly illegally-treated teachers who also are members of MACE.  Principal Black must have spoken with those two individuals because, as Mr. Haynes tells me, Principal Black approached him in the media center in front of students and other staff members to discuss this school year’s evaluations.  According to Mr. Haynes, Principal Black said that since Mr. Haynes had experienced “problems” with Assistant Principal Donaldson and with Department Chairperson Rice that he, Principal Black, would conduct Mr. Haynes’s evaluations.  Mr. Haynes said that after he replied that he did not remember a discussion between them about Principal Black being Mr. Haynes’s evaluator, Principal Black avowed, “Yes, you do!”  This intimidated Mr. Haynes and concerned him because, as he understands, he is the only teacher whom Principal Black is formally evaluating.  According to Mr. Haynes, Principal Black stated, “I’m evaluating you personally.”


     I cannot help but read something sinister into Principal Black’s statement that he would evaluate Mr. Haynes “personally,” especially considering the two evaluations Principal Black completed about Mr. Haynes’s teaching.  Principal Black’s first observation of Mr. Haynes’s teaching occurred the morning of the day following Labor Day holiday, quite an inappropriate time to choose.  Why would an administrator pick such a date and time?  I posit that Principal Black did want to “get” Mr. Haynes, and Principal Black’s subsequent written evaluation supports my point.  Mr. Haynes received eight ratings of “needs improvement” and two of “not observed,” along with intensely detailed notes for each and every area of observation.  In the twelve years that I have been Chairman of MACE, I can say that I have only seen such negative obsession in the evaluation of a teacher when the administrator was endeavoring to “get” the teacher terminated or have the teacher transferred or cause the teacher to resign.  I could go into detail showing how many of Principal Black’s comments contradict one another, but I will forego that exercise in futility because I find it patently bogus that Principal Black would conduct an observation and produce such a negatively-detailed document in a class taught by someone with a disability first thing in the morning following Labor Day.  That Principal Black actually remained in the class for nearly an hour, from 8:48 a.m. til 9:42 a.m. underscores the point that I hammer, namely, that Principal Black is apparently using the evaluation process to “get” Mr. Haynes. 


     I will, however, discuss  the evaluation Principal Black conducted of Mr. Haynes on October 4, 2006, in which Mr. Haynes received six ratings of “below expectations” and four of “not observed.”  First, it is insulting that Principal Black does not even know Mr. Haynes’s name.  The “Teacher’s Name” is written as “Ernest Haynes” atop the Confidential TPEI Classroom Observation Record” upon which Principal Black handwrote his negative comments.  In “Dimension 1: Content Knowledge,” Principal Black writes:  “An appropriate lesson objective was provided in the lesson plans and was posted on the board.  It is recommended that the objective be discussed.”  Principal Black then marks as “needs improvement” the areas of “Goals & objectives are set” and “Content differentiated.”  This makes little sense since Principal Black wrote that an “appropriate lesson objective was provided in the lesson plans and was posted on the board.”  If an “appropriate lesson objective” is found in Mr. Haynes’s plans and on his board, how is it not “set” for the purpose of the evaluation Principal Black completed?  Also, how does Mr. Haynes know what Principal Black means by marking “Content differentiated” as “needs improvement” when no commentary is provided to explain the negative rating?  Mr. Haynes tells me that he had discussed the objectives specifically with the class when he went over the rubric by which the students would be graded.  This occurred on October 2, 2006, but Mr. Haynes again went over the objectives of the rubric with students on the day that Principal Black conducted his observation so that previously-absent students would be informed.  As for differentiation of content, Mr. Haynes tells me that the students formed groups to discuss their goals for their presentations of the literary text that they were reading and that they also produced visual aids for their presentations.  What more could Mr. Haynes have done to differentiate the content?  Why did Principal Black not provide specific feedback to support his negative marking?


     In “Dimension 2: Teaching methods,” Principal Black writes:  “The class was organized into groups and asked to work on preparing their presentations.  The students were given a rubics [sic] that detailed how their presentations would be evaluated.  The groups were not as focused as needed.”  Principal Black then marks as “needs improvement” the areas of “Methods facilitate the achievement of objectives,” “Methods encourage student interest and involvement to accommodate needs, abilities, & developmental levels,” “Activities involve students,” and “Instructional time is maximized.”  Again, Principal Black provides no specific feedback to support the areas that he marked as “needs improvement.”  In fact, as relates to “Methods encourage student interest and involvement to accommodate needs, abilities, & developmental levels,” Principal Black actually writes in “Dimension 6: Demonstrates professional conduct relative to oral and written communication skills” that “Mr. Haynes provided instructions for the students’ assignment and moved around the classroom to monitor their progress.”  How does this commentary segue with rating him as “needs improvement” in the area specified in Dimension 2?  Mr. Haynes is more specific.  He tells me that one young man continually refused to move into his group, finally stating that a gunshot wound prevented him from moving; therefore, Mr. Haynes says that he had the other group members to relocate around that youth so as to maintain on-task attention to the lesson.  Mr. Haynes says, too, that he was involved with a group of students who appeared “lost” as to what to do because a number of their group members were absent.  He assisted them to achieve success.  How does this warrant the marking of “needs improvement” of “Methods facilitate the achievement of objectives” and of “Activities involve students”?  The vast majority of individuals in the room were students.  As for “Instructional time is maximized,” Mr. Haynes tells me that he assessed each and every student during class to ascertain whether the individual texts were being interpreted correctly, that he actively listened to the groups’ various conversations to determine whether the groups were on-task, and that he worked the night before assigning students to groups so as to insure maximum learning.  This appears to be a worthwhile lesson, but Principal Black carps about it:  “The class was organized into five (5) small groups and given instructions to prepare a dramatic presentation that included the elements of a rubic [sic] that was provided.  The work of the groups was not as focused as desired, and this limited the progress made towards accomplishing the objective.”  Again, why does Principal Black fail to provide specific feedback to support his claims that the students’ work was “not as focused as desired” and that “limited” progress occurred?  According to Mr. Haynes who conceived, executed, and evaluated the lesson, the students’ “excellent presentations proved that the students had learned what they needed to in order to be successful.”  A disconnect exists here, and I believe that it exists because of Principal Black’s apparent desire to “get” Mr. Haynes.


     The crux of my belief that Principal Black wants to “get” Mr. Haynes rests on the fact that Principal Black apparently violated the most reasonable professional consideration there is relating to the evaluation of a teacher.  Prior to conducting the evaluations, Principal Black never met with Mr. Haynes to have him sign the form acknowledging that he understood the process by which and by whom he would be evaluated.  Principal Black had Mr. Haynes sign a “Pre-Evaluation Conference Acknowledgement” on October 12, 2006, eight days after completing the “Confidential TPEI Classroom Observation Record” and months after completing the “James Baldwin High School Classroom Observation Form.”  And, to emphasize Principal Black’s apparent unethical attempt to “get” Mr. Haynes, Assistant Principal Donaldson, whom Mr. Haynes had mentioned to Principal Black had mistreated him during the previous school year, was sent to obtain Mr. Haynes’s signature.  This occurred, as stated previously, when Mr. Haynes was in the media center with his students.  Supposedly, Assistant Principal Donaldson brusquely stated, “Mr. Black wants you to sign this.  He’s busy.”  After stating his objections to signing the document, which he duly signed, Mr. Haynes was subsequently visited by Principal Black whose business, obviously, was not of such importance to prevent him from going to the media center to confront Mr. Haynes in front of his students to assert the claim that the two of them had engaged in a pre-evaluation conference, in which Mr. Haynes denies participation.  It strikes me that Principal Black and Assistant Principal Donaldson, believing Mr. Haynes to be less than able to think properly because of his disability, endeavored to use Mr. Haynes’s bipolar disorder to confuse him and to make him think that their actions were ethical, when, I assert, they were not. 


     Mr. Haynes’s disability necessitates the taking of many pills, which he does morning and evening.  He starts his day around 6:30 a.m. with the ingestion of fifteen pills to combat his bipolar disorder.  He takes them so early to offset the trance-like state into which they place him.  Principal Black may have purposefully opted to evaluate Mr. Haynes as early in the morning as he could, hoping, to catch Mr. Haynes in the throes of his bipolar disorder so as to make a case against him on the evaluations.  If so, this violates ADA as well as Atlanta Public Schools’ rules and regulations.  Mr. Haynes deserves ethical, professional treatment, even more so because of his disability.  It is my request that the negative documentation Principal Black has promulgated about Mr. Haynes be discarded and that Principal Black and his administrative staff be formally instructed to treat Mr. Haynes in an ethical, professional manner commiserate with the law as well as with common sense.   







                                                                        John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.



Copy:  Mr. J. Anderson Ramay, Jr., Esq., MACE

          Mr. Earnest Haynes

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