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Marlborough Teachers Claim Intimidation by Superintendent

The Marlborough Educators Association sent superintendent of schools Anthony Pope a letter last week criticizing his interaction with teaching staff.

The Marlborough Educators Association sent a letter last week expressing discontent with the current state of relations between the administration's top office and the rank and file of the district. 

"We are writing to you to express the discontent of our members regarding the climate, lack of direction and communication which currently exists in the Marlborough Public Schools," said the letter.

After reportedly polling their membership the union said that Pope's response was "chilling," with teachers expressing feelings of distrust and intimidation and "absolutely fearful of retaliation" for expressing dissenting opinions. 

Marlborough Patch asked Pope for comment on Thursday, and while he did not specifically address the concerns pointed out in the letter, he said that the district was making great strides towards improving student achievement and were committed toward moving forward. 

"I’m particularly encouraged that so many dedicated classroom teachers have stepped forward to play leadership roles in our transformation work, including more than 100 educators raising standards by developing rigorous new curricula." said Pope. "We are incredibly fortunate to have so many talented teachers working here in Marlborough, and I am confident that together, we will continue to make great strides in improving teaching and learning."

Despite Pope's statement, teachers characterized recent interaction with the school chief as being "abrupt," "rude" and "unreceptive." 

"Members reported in large number that angry, curt, and demeaning remarks have come to be the norm when in your presence," said the letter. "Intimidation is a word used frequently when describing interactions with you."

The union also complained about a lack of follow-through in teacher development programs. 

"In Believe 2016 (the superintendent's five year plan) professional development is bulleted under nearly every goal, yet professional development is being denied to many teachers across the district."

Other criticisms have also recently arisen due to of assistant principal Adam Bakr, who was reportedly fired Thursday, April 12, 2012, after a lengthy suspension for an unnamed offense. 

In the aftermath of a recent student sit-in protesting the suspension, Pope was accused of shoving a teacher after mistaking her for a student. 

The teacher subsequently filed charges against Pope, according to witnesses and court records, and a court date has been set for May. Pope was not arrested. 

As of this post, Pope had not responded to a request for comment on Bakr's firing, siting the situation as a private, human resources issue. 

This situation has reportedly contributed to the teacher union's perception of Pope as an unapproachable leader. 

"Your actions have caused a chilling school climate that has been exacerbated by your tone and decision not to communicate with the rank and file, and your directives that you are not to be contacted directly by teachers," said the letter. "Frankly, given the climate, we doubt that any teacher would have any desire to contact you for fear of retribution."

Finally, union leadership made themselves able to meet with Pope during the first half of April. Failure to come to the table was threatened with a "more public action" from the union. 

As of this post, Marlborough Patch was not made aware of any concessions or reconciliation between the superintendent and the teachers union. 

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c17a3 April 13, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Hang in there Superintendent Pope, I was informed about what Mr Bakr knew and did nothing about. i think you were to easy on him...sent him home with pay? Now it makes sense why some of the kids up @ the HS love him, carries around a pb&j samich in his pocket...pleassse.
Marlboro resident April 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM
LOL c17a3...is that you, Dr. Pope??? Nice try!
Marlborough taxpayer for year April 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Marlborough teachers are the worst my son went to school in that school and hated it because he was not challenged. In NY State regents exams have been in place for over 40 years, they are like MCAS on crack. You are required to constantly upgrade your skills in NY State or they will fire you about time someone came in to fix the school system. Until my son went to Northborough Algonquin he was never challenged, the teachers do not care in Marlborough the schools have been really bad for years glad someone is paying attention to clean up the lazy union's and make the teachers upgrade their skills
MhsStudent April 17, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I'm sorry when was that? Instead of making bias comments, you should do some research, call the schools (Weymouth high school) , and talk to people who witnessed Dr. Pope's behavior. By the way, referring to Weymouth High School, teachers from there have recognized Pope left their school in ruins. So If you're son was not challenged, enough well I'm sorry but that's your fault, for not going there and demanding answers. Marlborough can and should improve, I agree. But it's important to know that it has improved a lot.
Marlborough taxpayer for year April 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM
This was less than five years ago. Dr. Pope is a Dr for a reason, there needs to be people who make change this is a man who can do that. There are a lot of teachers who hide underneath the union umbrella that just need to go back to school period. Teachers unions are too powerful in MA, my parents were both educators all their lives, Dad 29 years as college professor PhD, retired opera singer spoke five languages and Mom had her Master's in Education. No teacher in any school in MA should be allowed to teach without their Master's degree, testing should be mandatory every year to keep their jobs. After all they are the ones teaching you, if you are a student at MHS how well did you do on the first pass on your MCAS? Not one child in my family has ever been less than an overachiever, this makes kids strive for more to be challenged. I am a self taught network engineer, brother a VP sister a CEO not one of us needed to be "driven".
MhsStudent April 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I understand where you are coming from, but I don't think intimidating and bullying staff and students alike is a way to bring change. Tell me how would you feel if someone told you they could mess with your college diploma? or suspend you? just because you questioned him? I'am sure there are teachers who aren't that good, as there teachers like that in every district. But not like the way he's doing things, he needs to be removed, period. Just because he has Ph.D does not mean he knows what's best for everyone, or because he is the smartest person in the room. If you've actually met or seen him ( which you haven't ) you'd know , he is the most unprofessional person. Change can come from anyone who is willing to work with teachers, students etc. Not someone who believes they are above them, or someone who intimidates those who work for him.
c17a3 April 17, 2012 at 05:41 PM
MhsStudent, just call and talk to the union teachers at Weymouth HS...i'm convinced lets get rid of him.
MhsStudent April 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
c17a3- I'm sorry but can you explain your comment, it did not make sense.
c17a3 April 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
That was my point, neither did your diatribe.
Me April 18, 2012 at 07:06 PM
c17a3's first comment tells Pope to hang in there then 4 days later it's get rid of him? Make up your mind. And by the way we all know the "Third hand" story (which I am sure there a a million versions) of why Mr. Bakr was fired. I'm not really sure he did anything wrong enough to be fired.
r u kidding? April 22, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Just curious: "Pope was accused of shoving a teacher after mistaking her for a student." Would it have been OK for him to shove a student? Not if it was MY daughter - in fact, he would have been charged with assault that day, because I wouldn't have had to worry losing about my job (like the teacher was). That's the worst excuse I've ever heard. Why won't he answer any of the teachers union's questions? Isn't he required to? Anything he does now is just trying to save his job, or maybe make it possible for him to get another one somewhere, because he's completely lost the respect of the teachers, students, and all of the other parents that I know. School Committee, do your job, please.
Walter April 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Just look at Pope's hop-scotch record - he always manages to land on his feet. And, indeed, It is a wondrous thing that someone as ill-spoken/written as Pope managed to get his Ed.D. During his time in Weymouth, he exhibited the same behaviors he is displaying on Marlborough: threatening students with suspension/expulsion because they dared to challenge a decision, singling out individuals for harassment, and spending a third of his work days at home. It appears that the hiring team didn't do much research before hiring Pope, and Weymouth must have given him a glowing review just to be rid of him.
WHS August 29, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I've seen Dr. Pope's resume and I don't think he has lasted anywhere in his career for more that two years. In Weymouth he was absent more than he was present - we were only too happy to see him go to Marlborough - a complete bafoon.

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