The five teachers whom Fort WorthWeekly interviewed for this story agreed that there's a new culture of intimidation and bullying at Haltom High School, initiated by the school's new principal, Clarence Elvin Simmons, who took over in July 2011.
Teachers said they are afraidto voice concerns to the administration or to question new security measures that don't allow teachers to see Simmons
without an escort.
And they feel powerless to change new teacher-evaluation procedures that make them feel harassed and unworthy.
The school administrators apparently are also insecure about their image, attempting to withhold the results of one opinion survey and apparently trying to skew the results of another.
And in a curious but telling incident, they forbade students to wear t-shirts with a cryptic design that administrators apparently felt criticized Simmons
Information obtained by the Weekly through an open-records request and a source within the administration show 43 employees have left Haltom since Simmons became principal.
During that same school year, 26 employees left the district's Richland High and 21 left Birdville High.
Veteran teachers, including one nationally recognized history teacher, are on the list of those who have retired, quit the district altogether, or transferred to another school.
The Weekly has also learned that at a previous post in the state of New York, Simmons
was the subject of a half-dozen official complaint proceedings that ultimately were settled out of court.
Simmons declined to comment for this story, through district spokesman Mark Thomas.
During the district's graduation ceremony in May, Dilks said, Simmons
came up behind him and slapped him on the back so hard that the sting of Simmons' handprint lingered long after the principal walked away.
Simmons came to Haltom in July 2011, after three years as principal at Waco High School.
Before that, he spent nearly a decade working in New York at Williamsville Central school district, serving as principal of Williamsville South High School for the majority of that time.
In May, Sizemore filed a grievance with the United Educators Association
"Campus administration (under the leadership of principal Clarence Elvin Simmons) has created an unprofessional and hostile work and educational environment where employees and their students are often subjected to harassment, intimidation, and discrimination," the grievance said.
Examples listed in the grievance include denying regular lunches to students who didn't have their ID badges - a sign in the cafeteria read "No ID.
No Kidding"; falsification of a UEA computer survey sent out to Haltom teachers; and withholding the results of the district's annual Gallup Organizational Survey, which measures teacher satisfaction.
That survey, incidentally, showed a dramatic decline in overall teacher satisfaction during Simmons'
first year as principal.
District officials formally investigated the grievance and Sizemore's complaints and, according to the investigative report, found no wrongdoing by Simmons
Sizemore said that the administrative office staff was instructed by Simmons
to "fix the survey" by using computers in the school library to answer survey questions and falsify results in favor of Simmons
They show that the "health" of Haltom
has declined significantly in almost every category since Simmons
The survey was sent out to teachers during the last week of November 2011 - the first semester of Simmons' leadership at the school.
Asked about the complaints made against Simmons
by teachers, Kunkel said, "I haven't talked to any of these people specifically … but all these things have been investigated by our administration.
While the state investigated, Simmons
took five months of paid medical leave from his
job, during which time he
also secured a new job with the Waco school district.
Through an open-records request, the Weekly discovered a subsequent e-mail that Tolbert sent to the board and Simmons
"I am throwing this useless garbage in the trash," wrote Tolbert.
"Funny though, the people that sent this are about as bright as a lump of coal.
To save you the wasted time reading this dross, apparently they were trying to send information that was critical of Mr. Simmons
, but instead ended up proving he
did nothing wrong.
I have a special place for anonymous sources right under my desk labeled 'trash can,' " the e-mail said.
"Save yourself some time and do the same."
The information Tolbert received involved the complaints filed against Simmons
and the New York agency's finding of probable cause that violations had occurred.
A curious thing happened when Simmons
moved to Texas to take the job in Waco.
started going by his
first name Clarence
instead of his
middle name Elvin, which he
had previously used.
What disturbs me the most though is the district's refusal to acknowledge the fact that the hiring of Simmons
might have been a mistake; meanwhile teachers and students are forced to suffer because of their hubris!
is much worse than he
appears in this article.
It is time for you to leave, Mr. Simmons!
Also-his past behaviors in other states and school districts are not "trash" or "unproven"...as Tolbert so erroneously stated in his
I do believe that Mr. Simmons
is worse than this acticle is giving on.
The website we found the information about New York and Elvin stuff was blocked as soon as it was brought to his