Saturday, December 17, 2011
How to conduct a valid investigation-from untamed teacher blog
This is what you do if you are a Real Investigator:
First of all, you make sure that the parents of all children involved have been informed about the incident and that they be given the opportunity to be present during at least part of the interview.
In K.N.'s case, the parents of the children who were being used to corroborate J.F.'s story were not informed about their children's statements. I know. I called them and asked.
Second, you interview both parent and child separately and together. It's no joke to bring false allegations against a teacher. You make sure that everyone knows that you expect the truth and nothing but the truth and that liars will be delt with severely.
J.F. would have caved. The six children who gave false testimony in support of J.F. would have caved. Karl, the boy who couldn't get to the bathroom in time would have provided enough testimony for you to bring several people up on charges, none of whom were K.N. For that reason alone, the principal would never have given you the opportunity to interview Karl, because she would have been the first person to be brought up on charges for locking the bathroom doors.
Third, you interview the teacher. Union representatives often tell teachers not to say anything, but if you are a Real Investigator, everyone knows that you will do everything in your power to protect teachers from false allegations.
K.N. would have given her version of events and might even have shared with you that a custodian could corroborate her version of events on the day J.F. said she had tripped him. Mr. E., one of the custodians was talking to her as she stood in the hall. She was asking Mr. E. if he could give her some plastic bags for an experiment she planned to do later in the week. Mr. E. saw J.F. push past her. He saw the children run up as the bell rang. Why hadn't she mentioned Mr. E. to the principal? He was a nice man. She didn't want to make trouble for him.
Fourth, you interview other people not included in the principal's report.
Mr. E. would have backed up K.N. He was shocked that she was in trouble. Such a nice woman. He saw the boy push her out of the way as he ran into the classroom, tripping and almost falling as he did so. Children these days don't know how to show respect for their teachers. The other children? Oh they ran up as the bell was ringing and had to stand in line as Ms. K.N. marked them late. You should have heard them complaining! Children these days!
Then you interview the entire Leadership Team that came up with the rules about locking the bathroom doors. You also interview Karl's Math teacher, Ms. B., who taught Karl during the first two periods of the day he had the bathroom accident. She admits that she didn't allow him access to the bathroom in spite of repeated requests because of Principal S.T. didn't allow children to go to the bathroom during those periods (The accident occurred at the beginning of third period).
How many principals would want a Real Investigator in their building?
No, B.F. was not expected to carry out a real investigation. If he had, he wouldn't have remained a Chancellor's Investigator for long. He was expected to help fortify a case against a targeted teacher-- someone the principal wanted to get rid of.
All of B.F.'s investigations are a matter of public record. A researcher should look for a clear pattern of bias in favor of the DOE. It would also be a good idea to interview the children.
By now, J.F. has graduated from high school. It would be interesting to interview him about his role in destroying a teacher's career. Does he still think there was no harm, no foul?