Retroactive Reference Retraction

file-final31726256Did you know that the director from your previous school can request that a confidential reference they wrote years earlier be retracted from your professional file? Unfortunately, they can! And without anyone telling you. Just imagine the consequences to your resume.

This exact scenario happened to an ISR Member, as shared in a recent ISR School Review. The following is the letter from a recruiting agency to the candidate when he tried to reactivate his professional file:

(Dear Candidate) “I was contacted by —– (school director) with a request that his reference be pulled from your file. Obviously, I had no other choice but to delete his reference. You still have a reference from the Principal, but losing —–‘s reference will decrease the strength of your file, in my opinion.” 

(About a week later the recruiter sends a second message) “I was contacted the other day by —– (school principal) asking that her confidential reference also be withdrawn from your file. As you know, we cannot keep a reference on file without the consent and full permission of the referee. After very careful consideration, I regret to inform you that we cannot accept your request to reapply.”

ISR Members: Click here & scroll to Evaluation #7 to read complete, unedited Review.

In his school Review the author tells us that, “The last conversation I had with —– (school director) was the exit interview in June, 2014. He asked if I had access to the first class lounge in Amsterdam as we were sharing a flight. I said no and he said he would see if he could invite me. Then 9 months later I receive this email from the recruitment agency about his pulling his reference.”

Why would anyone take the low-road, go behind a teacher’s back & secretly destroy their recruiting efforts? One would think a school director & principal would have the presence of character to notify the candidate so he could at least stop using them as a reference. Was this just an oversight on their part or was there an intended consequence?

There are two sides to every story & we are not privy to what motivated these two administrators. In his Review, the teacher explains he is leaving his current school early. Did the director of this current school contact his previous school? Can your performance at your present school retroactively affect previous performance letters of reference? Maybe the long rumored directors’ network IS real!

13 Responses to Retroactive Reference Retraction

  1. Anonymous says:

    It think this is just so unfair. Directors hold all the power, you just ned to look sideways at them , their egos are shot and they hold that against you when a reference check is asked by a future employer. They forget all to quickly the great work the hours of work the unrelenting work the improved student achievement etc etc all because you disagreed with them on occasion. Truely unprofessional but they hold the cards.


  2. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect to the teacher who had this happen to them, this sounds a bit too fishy. Obviously some kind of information came to the Director’s attention that was alarming. I do agree, however, there should have been some kind of personal communication. I wonder if the teacher tried to contact the Director and Principal for an explanation? That was not clear in the post.


    • anonymous says:

      A complaint was made to the recruiting agency about the accuracy of the school’s information on the profile. Agency stated it would handle it confidentially. Rather it colluded with Director to keep the teacher off the base, because the school did not change any of the information related to “anticipated savings” that several of the teachers at the school complained about. 24 teachers at the school needed to be re-placed and agency stands to make much more money placing teachers than they do policing school directors. And yes, attempts were made to contact both Principal and Director. No, they did not respond.


  3. The truth hurts says:

    Unfortunately, this post doesn’t shock me at all. This type of behavior from the director and principal is nothing short of devious and under-handed. International schools will never be unionized and teachers careers forever hang in the balance abroad. It only takes one unscrupulous member of administration to ruin your name, career, livelihood and lifestyle. It’s high time this site set up a separate tab section to review principals and directors by name and not just offer members the opportunity to post under school names (as principals and directors often move from school to school). I encourage this site to seriously consider this.

    ISR Moderator Note: The member are of International Schools Review has an Admin review section with many hundreds of school directors and principals reviewed at their various schools throughout their careers. Here is a direct link to the index to admin

    At my school last year both the director and principal didn’t want to give any teachers a written reference, rather they simply provided teachers with their email details. Fair enough, ok, but when the high-paying, lazy, privileged, manipulative and mediocre students at my school ask for a college reference it’s basically expected that teachers give them a positive one (it’s an unwritten and unspoken expectation).

    My school expects teachers to give administration a copy of any student college references in order to keep them on the student’s file and also to peruse and ‘vet’ it. So when a teacher wants a reference from the director and principal it is secret via email and is thus is unseen by teachers and could potentially be withdrawn at any time. However, when students want a college reference, teachers are to provide the school with a paper copy that is perused by administration, parents and students. Also teachers basically can’t retract these references in the future as often they don’t know what colleges students are applying to and it is also hard to do this when the reference letter is in paper form (which is exactly why many directors and principals won’t give paper references to departing teachers). Lastly if teachers i.e. withdraw their reference from a student, once could you clearly imagine the backlash from the school, students and parents. This is utter hypocrisy as anyone can see.

    I will not be giving any student a college reference as I only do ‘blind email’ references, as I don’t want any blow-back from angry students and parents should I give a negative reference (my action correlates strongly to the negative culture of my school). Also, students grades are often inflated at my school and I won’t put my name to any college reference to go to a western university. Students in my locale can go to many local universities which allow them to buy their degree, so they can go there instead and can do so without a reference from me. I’m not de-valuing western colleges and their programs by allowing low caliber, undeserving students who use their money and ‘power’ to try and coerce me into giving them a reference to support their college applications. Also, why should I give students a paper reference for anything when my own school doesn’t do the same for me and also there is a possibility they could withdraw their reference from me at a later date?


  4. Cass says:

    Of course there are Directors’ network(s). And they are under significant pressure to protect themselves on child protection: “Concern about KCSIE’s guidance that staff references from schools should not refer to any history of unsubstantiated complaints. Whilst it is of course important to protect staff from the consequences of unmeritorious complaints it is not difficult to see the potential for danger which could result from schools’ failing to pass on any history of allegations or concerns, even where they have not been able to be substantiated.”


  5. Anonymous says:

    Also, when people ‘disappear’ because they have moved maybe twice and are no longer traceable. I have had huge problems tracking down former headteachers.


  6. Anonymous says:

    It is most unfortunate that we teachers have allowed a level of secrecy unknown in other professions. We allow references to be written about us that we can’t see. This gives a lot of power to people who may or may not be ethical.

    Being an international teacher for a long time I have seen so many situations where good teachers had their careers ruined because they refused to perform sexual favors, did not get on personality wise with an idiot director, did the ethical thing at an unethical school, etc.

    There are no checks and balances in the power structures of many international schools so teachers are abused, false references are filed and then upheld by the major employment agencies as truth, etc.

    We need a call to reform.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Interesting… I am guessing it is because his person is seeking a very high up position in education. I can see this if they end up on some important board and don;t want to associate with any references? It does seems odd that it be personal at this point don’t you think? Unless the teacher was convicted of criminal child abuse or something terrible down the road. Then I would probably would want to distance myself too. Very weird!


  8. justsayin' says:

    Dirty, devious and unethical on the part of the director. I know there are good directors out there (somewhere) but it seems that there are an increasing number of dishonest, insecure and under qualified individuals in admin. Is there any legal redress?


    • anonymous says:

      I don’t think there is legal redress. Though I know the reason that the references were pulled was to keep the teacher off of the agency website after a complaint was made about the accuracy of the school’s anticipated savings, all could claim that the references were pulled after the original ISR review was posted.


  9. omgarsenal says:

    Why is anyone surprised? There is most assuredly a director’s network and I have had first hand experience with it, fortunately to my gain not pain BUT it could very easily have been different. Regardless of whether a reference is confidential or protected, such shameful and unethical behaviour from school management is unconscienable and unethical, to say the least. It is par for the course to see such underhandedness and cowardice from far too many so-called school leaders.
    This type of reprobate would be in deep kaka in a unionized environment but it is carte blanche overseas so just another abberation to credit to the rat’s den we call administration and ownership.


  10. j. smith says:

    That is bad. I’m not sure why these principals and school directors can’t man up and be honest. It can ruin your career. I know if the reference hasn’t been in touch in a long time it they can sometimes not want to be a reference since they haven’t seen you teaching for a long time.


  11. traveler first says:

    I saw that review. Unbelievable that after you leave a school a director can hear something he doesn’t like about you and take back his letter of reference. This is especially bad since you don’t know when this has been done so you keep on using that director as a reference. Plus, when a school you want to work at goes to your file and sees that one of the references on your resume has removed their reference from your professional file, it looks very bad. This all feels like a very underhanded, distorted, unethical, scenario. I saw what school and director it is on the site. That’s one place that’s never been on my radar. Now it’s in my trash can.


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