Dr. Trotter Writes To Fulton's Superintendent

Cindy Loe About Middle School Assistant Principal.

[The names of the teacher, the principal, and the school have been changed.]

                                                                    October 15, 2009

Dr. Cindy Loe, Superintendent

Fulton County Schools

786 Cleveland Avenue, SW

Atlanta, Georgia 30313

Dear Dr. Loe:


I am writing this letter on behalf of one of our valued members at Tension Middle School, Ms. Jenni Love. Ms. Jenni Love came to our office and asked us if we could assist her in some matter concerning her assistant principal which, to me, seems fairly petty considering the grand scheme and scope of the school’s mission. Apparently, there is some confusion at Tension Middle School about to whom the Media Specialist reports when she is going to be absent from the building due to illness, doctor’s appointment, etc. I think that that school system guideline states that the absence should be reported to the principal as well as to the district-wide automated system. Apparently, Ms. Jenni Love simply followed the district-wide practice, but her assistant principal, Mr. Picayune evidently felt that she should have notified him.

In an exchange of emails, Mr. Picayune apparently chastised Ms. Jenni Love for not notifying him earlier of her intended absence, although she has apparently notified the principal, Ms. Smith, as well as the automated system. Ms. Jenni Love replied to Mr. Picayune, letting him know that she properly notified those whom the school district expected her to notify. Mr. Picayune apparently took umbrage at Ms. Jenni Love’s assertion that she had followed the proper procedure, and he wrote, from the document which is in front of me, a fairly caustic (as well as grammatically and syntactically incorrect) memo to Ms. Jenni Love on August 26, 2009. Mr. Picayune uses the word “sarcastic” on eight occasions in this memo. Perhaps Mr. Picayune confuses factual with sarcasm. In a response to this memo, Ms. Jenni Love stated that she had “NOT” been sarcastic, and it appears that Mr. Picayune also took exception to upper case letters in not. Yet, I have seen a memo purportedly written from Mr. Picayune which went from standard type the first time that it was sent out by email to bold type the second time that the email was sent to the same person.

Email and font etiquette is certainly not an exact science. In fact, I, a true luddite in many respects, just recently learned that all upper cases means shouting to many people relative to emails or texting. I learn something everyday. Electronic communication certainly cannot decipher tone or inflection. I had though that all upper cases letters meant emphasis or emphases, although I seldom ever capitalize a word.

Ms. Jenni Love filed a grievance concerning the allegation that Mr. Picayune was violating school board policy as well as breaching Professional Standards Commission’s Code of Ethics. She filed this grievance August 27, 2009, but in a spirit of willingness to resolve the matter, she was willing to forego the grievance for the time being as a person in Human Resources was working on the matter. Mr. Picayune had stated in the aforementioned August 26 memo that “[t]his letter will be filed in your personnel records and will be a part of your annual evaluation.” I hope that Mr. Picayune is not using this evaluative instrument in a manipulative, retributive, and punitive manner. Ms. Jenni Love tells us that Mr. Picayune was complimenting her on how she looked (either referring to her clothes or countenance; I wouldn’t know), and that she simply retorted words to this effect: “Well…and what do you need, Mr. Picayune.” Perhaps Mr. Picayune took offense at the rather curt tone of Ms. Jenni Love’s alleged response.

Ms. Jenni Love is a good lady and a serious-minded educator. She raised, as a single mother, two very successful children, the eldest being a student in medical school in Louisville and the youngest being a student at Georgia Tech. She has been removed from her home in Austell due to the horrific flood recently. Her possessions are ruined, and she has been living outside her home for the last five or six weeks now. We are trying to help her resolve this manner at the “lowest administrative level,” as the spirit of the law encourages (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq.). In fact, two of my colleagues at MACE and I traveled to Tension Middle School, hoping to peaceably talk with Mr. Picayune after school one day. The students had already left the building. Unfortunately, he was not in, and I left my card. To this day, I have not heard from him.

Dr. Loe, if you would ask a member of your staff to look into this impasse, I would appreciate it. I look forward to working with you. I hope that you have settled nicely into your relatively “new” job. I am sure that being a superintendent is not an easy task these days.



                                                                            John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

                                                                            Chairman & CEO

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