StarNews: New Hanover High teacher files grievance against principal

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Submitted: Sat, 03/30/2013 - 1:57am
Updated: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:32pm

By: Pressley Baird

A teacher has filed a grievance to the New Hanover County Board of Education against New Hanover High School Principal Todd Finn, saying that she feels like she is working in an environment of "abuse and harassment."

School board members reached Friday wouldn't comment on the specifics of the grievance because it involves a personnel issue. Several, however, said they've heard nothing but positive feedback about Finn from parents and students.

Beth Brown, who has taught English as a second language classes at New Hanover High since 2006, emailed her 42-page grievance and supporting documents to all seven school board members on Thursday. The information in the grievance falls between Sept. 12, 2012, and March 22, 2013. Finn became principal at New Hanover High in August 2011.

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14 Comments on "StarNews: New Hanover High teacher files grievance against principal"

Gate Keeper
2015 years 8 months ago

“envirerment”… “miricales”…”room mates”

Yep, you’re a former New Hanover High student. Maybe you should go back. You certainly would benefit from Mr. Finn and his new style of performance based rewards and higher teaching standards.

2015 years 8 months ago

I am a former student of New Hanover High School. I have seen a lot of good teachers, case workers and even office staff move or leave because of what I would believe is a hostle work place.

Some of the changes are for the good of the school but I have seen a lot that have really impacted the way the teachers can teach students because of his way.

But one thing I have noticed about Mr.Finn is that if you look into his background he came straight out of the military to being a principal of a high school in bladen county and now new hanover county. He has never taught in a classroom envirerment so how can he come in and work all these miricales that he says he has unlike most other principals that worked through the ranks he has no education in him at all.

Funny thing is that I have heard that Mr.Finn and the superintendent were college room mates. I once heard as well is bladen county wanted him gone.

2015 years 8 months ago

As an office volunteer and parent, I must disagree with this comment. I look at a photograph above my desk every day, and I see all of the teachers on Mr. Finn’s staff in that picture. I would say that over 90% are the same faces I saw a year ago (just a year older). To put it briefly, there aren’t a lot of new faces in the last two years. Also, if you take a moment to read his biography on the school web site, you will see that Mr. Finn has been in education for 15 years. No offense to our great superintendent, but he is probably about ten years older than our principal, so I doubt they were college room mates. By all accounts, his work in Fayetteville and in Bladen County earned him a chance at our school. I, for one, am glad he is here.

2015 years 8 months ago

The last sentence of your comment is only marginally true. A few people in Bladen County wanted him gone, but those were the people who wanted their kids to be coddled or to be coddled themselves. The vast majority (I’d say 95%) were heartbroken when he resigned. Test scores drastically improved in just one year, the gang activity at West Bladen became almost non-existent, and students felt safe, respected, and appropriately challenged to do their best while he was there. Now things are back to the way they used to be; most students feel unsafe and could care less about achievement. If you New Hanover folks don’t want him, we’ll gladly take him back!

Guest with a question
2015 years 8 months ago

The above writing is what you get when weekly spelling tests and spelling bees were taken out of the school system…pitiful. Spelling should be a priority in school systems. You can tell it’s not a “typo” because the same words are spelled incorrectly…I read a lot of posts and cringe at the spelling errors. Even the inability to spell correctly in a News report on this website and others becomes abundently clear.

2015 years 8 months ago

We all know where this post is coming from ^^. Let’s go ahead and clear this up. Looking at the public record known as the Teacher Working Condition Survey taken last year – anonymously – more teachers highly agreed that this high school was an excellent place to work and learn than any other high school in Wilmington. This is hardly indicative of the above poster’s claims. If this were such a bad place to work, why would teachers rate the school so highly? I attended a seminar recently where teachers presented information about a 9th grade academy. I was expecting to see this principal, as I see him almost every day at the school. But he did not attend. He sent his teachers, and they told the story of a leader who empowered them to create this academy. Again, this is hardly indicative of a “hammer” mentality. Based on my research, this principal taught in Massachusetts from 1998-2005. He taught in NC from 2005-2007. He was in Fayetteville as an assistant principal for three years, and served as a principal in Bladen county for a year. This is his second year at NHHS. By my count, that is 15 years in education. Further, just look at the results. The school has posted higher test scores in the last year than in any of the previous years on record. Again, just look at the data on the school report cards online. As a volunteer at the school, I have personally seen a decrease in fighting and a much happier student body. That is with my own eyes, and not just word of mouth. I have also listened to teachers complain that they had to change rooms, or that they have to work harder than before. Yet this school is for the students first, in my opinion at least. More teachers have seemed so much more positive than the dozen or so who have been rumored to complain. Does this mean that we throw the baby out with the bath water because a handful of people do not like their room with no window? I have met with this man and will agree that he does have a military presence to him. Anyone who is intimidated or insecure with his background will obviously not like him from the start. However, those who have gotten to know and work with him (ask the PTSA) agree that he is a very good leader. My children attend the school today, and we are quite satisfied with the principal. The insinuation that “jocks” are favored is loaded. Mr. Finn works extremely closely with at-risk youth, many of whom play sports. So, yes, he does work closely with those who need him, who happen to be athletes. If I am not mistaken, he coached a college basketball team prior to becoming a teacher in NC. He would, then, tend to have good relationships with student athletes, my son not withstanding. Please do not knock him for that. In fact, my daughter is in the band. Mr. Finn actually attended a band competition on a Saturday and spent the entire day with the kids. These were not jocks. He is there for all kids. Lastly, let’s give the man a chance to do his job without attacking him personally. He is a good Christian, is involved with his church, is a great role model for our children, and is not going to make everyone happy. In any organization, there will be a number of unhappy people. We need to accept that as fact, and not pretend that everyone will be satisfied every day. Nobody is perfect, and I am sure this man has his faults, as do we all. But from my standpoint, as someone who is involved with the school at a close level, he is one of the brightest stars in New Hanover County. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

2015 years 8 months ago

I am not a teacher at this school, but I know several and have listened to what they and some of the students have expressed since Mr.Finn arrived. First some professionals feel that he did not have enough classroom experience to be competent as an administrator, as he has limited first hand knowledge of actual classroom management and/or the stress involved with the current, terrible, classroom experience for many teachers. The people that are happy with this guy are the ones that either gain from his decisions or get special treatment by him such as; “jocks” and their supporters. The youngest teachers appear to get special treatment, like well located classrooms with windows,for which veteran teachers waited for years to get, he may well have some good ideas but he seems to have one tool, and it’s hammer,to make his point. He lacks good management skills and fails miserably at drawing out and developing the best qualities in the very professionals he is charged to lead. He coddles some students because they of their athletic potential and ignores the vast majority of the more unique or non-athletic students. His attitude is “if you don’t agree with me, you are the enemy” he appears to have certain teachers and support staff that listen for news, among staffers, of his popularity or lack thereof and report back to him. Then the fallout occurs; classrooms moved to poor locations, suddenly rules are set up to discourage debate between professionals. As if the high school teaching experience wasn’t stressful enough already, now these teachers are threatened by this “bully” on a daily basis. It’s a joke to entertain all the “anti-bully” programs around here when the adults with power in many cases are the role models for bullying. The school board members comments which came out following the public release of the ” letter ” by a NHHS teacher, was just what I would have expected. They too, remain firmly on the side of the “popular kids and adults” athletes and his staff detectives. The teachers are not complaining just to complain, it is time to take this man to task. It appears to me that he rode in on the shirt tails of Dr. Markey, and he is invincible. Unacceptable!

Gate Keeper
2015 years 8 months ago

Why is it government workers are so whiny. Shut up, and do you jobs. You’re over paid, under worked and act like a bunch of union slackers! What’s wrong with this world!

2015 years 8 months ago

This teacher was there less than 6 months, in which school was out for several weeks during that time, and she has 42 pages of complaints? And there are no other teachers complaining? I would be willing to bet this same teacher had issues in previous workplaces too.

2015 years 8 months ago

Am I missing something? Why are there kids in high school that don’t know how to speak English? How are they understanding their other classes if they can’t even speak English? How did they make it to high school without knowing English?

And a 42-page grievance? Sounds like this woman had something going with the principal and he ended the relationship, now she’s bitter.

2015 years 8 months ago

First , let me say that I, as well as my youngest child, was lucky enough to have Todd Finn in our life one year before he left West Bladen High. It was, because of him, the best year of my daughter’s school years. I was on a parent advisory board for 3 years, two before him and one with him. He brought our area together like no other. We again took pride in our school. Yes, some people didn’t like him, some students didn’t like him because they didn’t like following the rules. They had been allowed, before him, to do as they pleased and they couldn’t stand not being able to continue to do as they wanted and having to follow the rules. I am most likely sure a teacher or two also didn’t like him , most likey for the same reasons.
I never saw any enviroment of abuse and harassment while he was here, and if you know me, I will jump all over a school board in a minute. What I did see was everyone treated fair and equal, teachers, parents and students, no one who was trying was treated wrong, extra help and support given as needed to those who tried.
Now to see that Ms. Brown claiming that she is exhausted from receiving reprimands, and using my 30 plus years of supervision knowledge, that shows me one thing, knowing how Mr. Finn expects people to do what they get paid for, knowing how fair he is, knowing that he always helps those that help themselves, I know in my heart that this is one lazy person who just wants sit on her butt and recieve a check, she is a perfect example of what is wrong with our school systems in this state. Just because they are able to slide by for a number of years then they think they have the right to do as they please forever. People like this give teachers a bad name.
In the real business world, when you don’t do your job, you get fired plain and simple. I never have had a employee get “exhausted from receiving reprimands”. They got fired before I got tired of having to give reprimands to them.
Todd, as always you have my full support and I hope that you continue to do the good things that you do. Don’t ever let the 1 percent pull you down, remember the 99 percent that love you.
Again as always, I think you for making my daughter’s senior year her best at West Bladen, and if I can ever help you in any way, you have my number.

Oh one last thing, my name is Rufus Duckworth and I am proud to support Todd Finn.

2015 years 8 months ago

Whenever a strong leader comes into play, the bottom feeders usually don’t survive. They complain, make excuses, and then usually quit or get fired. Now, if they spent that much effort buckling down and doing their job just like everyone else, there would not be a problem. Methinks if this woman had time to write a 42-page “grievance with supporting documents” she could have put a lot more effort into her job. Perhaps she doesn’t understand that her position has to be EARNED, and that she is NOT ENTITLED to it.

2015 years 8 months ago

They interview many parents who think that the school is better than it’s ever been.
Yet no one reads the complaint filed.
If he’s guilty of running a harassing and abusive workplace then HE needs to be disciplined.
I kinda doubt he’s guilty but to think that positive parental feedback is indicative of innocence is beyond me……..
I do note the teacher had 42 pages of materials. That’s quite a bit of documentation…..


2015 years 8 months ago

…. how much of those “42 pages of documentation” was nothing but irrelevant nonsense. Why has the accuser not come forward with her actual “complaint” so we can see for ourselves how she’s been “wronged”? Something smells very fishy here.