One Lying Director…

..If things don’t go well between a teacher and a school director, historically we’ve seen directors who’ve used their position to destroy the teacher’s International Teaching career. Of course, there are two sides to every story, but when recruiting agencies automatically choose to consider only one side of the disagreement, that of the bigger-of-the-two paying-customers, it’s always to the teacher’s detriment.

..International Schools Review is the result of just such an incident. A teacher had a misunderstanding with his director. The director told his own version of the ‘truth’ and had the teacher blackballed. Letters of protest and explanation from the teacher were met by the recruiting agency’s standard phrase: “We weren’t there to witness the events which took place.” Translation? Your word isn’t worth a damn! Teacher’s response? We need a site to inform and support teachers. Translation? Welcome to International Educators keeping each other informed at International Schools Review!

..Today, fourteen years since the inception of ISR, we still find isolated cases of teachers being blackballed, based on a vindictive director’s claims. Here’s a case in point:

from the ISR Forum

  Hello All, Our first international job landed us working for a terrible director and the relationship between us ended badly (as in we really did not like each other). When we tried to sign up with Search she outright lied about us, saying something to the extent that we were let go before the end of our contract for “conduct unbecoming of a teacher.” Based on her feedback, Search denied our application. From this same school we have SEVERAL outstanding peer and parent references.

Since that time we’ve had two other positions, completed contracts, and have great references from our administrators. So, we tried to apply to Search once again, only to be told that because of what this first woman said they can NEVER take us on as candidates.

I am upset that the words of one lying director can outweigh the multitude of positive words of other administrators. This seems wildly unfair!

Is our only recourse to go with ISS? Have you heard of a situation such as ours, and what did people do? Cheers and thanks for any feedback

..Beyond helping International Educators make the right choice of schools, ISR helps Recruiters to know what’s going on at various schools, and to realize that some schools and school leaders are literally a menace to educators’ careers.  We have witnessed, since the inception of ISR, that when a conflict arises Recruiters are now more likely to take a fair and unbiased approach to reaching a resolution.

..Some people just aren’t cut out to be International Educators; but, when a vindictive director uses their position to punish Educators with whom they’ve had a disagreement, there’s a problem. Fortunately, teachers in such a position have taken it upon themselves to Share their experiences on ISR so others can avoid making the same errors. Don’t let a school director be a menace to YOUR career, or that of colleagues!

..Comments? Please scroll down


34 Responses to One Lying Director…

  1. Munro says:

    International schools are often structured on antiquated management structures with several catch-22s built in to what is meant to be a system of checks-and-balances. Boards, usually composed of parents with kids in the school, are not free to “do their job” in an environment in which a poor Director, with vindictive and autocratic tendencies does not hesitate to encourage his staff to “make life difficult” for the kids of board members. When schools allow teacher children and director children to attend the school, it creates a conflict of interest – the Director children depend on teachers for their grades
    – the Director is the boss of the teachers and other staff – .
    The points raised by different teachers in this discussion are not surprising and have been seen by us in a few international schools. This is particularly true in Austria. When you see the lack of institutional accountability in the US govt it is not so surprising that schools don’t have much.
    In relation to teachers taking down a director

    it is so incredibly hard to crack the protective walls around heads of school that
    any time teachers actually bother to raise and signal the truth and base it in reality… there is likely to be a lot of truth to the allegations. Teachers are busy. The last thing they want to do is bring down a head with lies.


  2. john says:

    The Search “Associates” are nothing but leeches that will soon lose more of their market share. Over my twenty years in IE, I have seen countless teachers mistreated and screwed by directors who know they hold the power with Search. These teachers inform Scam Associates of what happens and then Search does nothing, but blacklist the teacher at the end of the conflict. I’ve seen teachers who did not get paid, not get their flights back, etc, leave their schools and then were told they broke contract.

    The next year, these same lying schools will be at fairs. It is only after NUMEROUS complaints that Search will decide to blacklist these schools, but only if they think the school’s reputation is too badly damaged publicly; this has nothing to do with teacher safety or their careers.

    And it’s only getting worse for teachers with this company. A friend of mine worked at a school for three years. During his final year, he had a nightmare principal who nobody liked (The principal eventually only lasted two years at this school.) Anyways, to get on Search my friend needed this woman’s reference, as did many other teachers that year. What happened? The obvious. She lambasted many of them and they did not get any interest. Did Search bother to see the common denominator? Nope. Why? This principle would be looking for 25 new teachers at a fair the next year.

    As a school counsellor, I don’t depend on Search because there is a smaller pool of people competing for my job. I am lucky to circumvent these leeches through direct applications and networks. There are a few good Associates out there, from what I heard, but this business is bad for International Education, because of their money grubbing and corruption. They do have a nice website, though. But With improving technology and communication platforms, Search Associates should be out of the market in twenty years, anyways. I never understood why a school would pay so much money every year when there are so many internal application platforms available with confidential references.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rik says:

    The recent review of David Walsh, principal of Shanghai United International School, shows just how effective the International Schools Review is – and how dangerous can be the effects. Following the very negative review about David Walsh posted by a previously-employed ex-colleague there, there was a full-blown witch hunt. Computers were seized and checked, staff who had already resigned were suspended from work despite not a shred of evidence being found. Staff were told not to communicate with the suspended teachers on pain of dismissal. The careers of these ‘scapegoats’ are in ruins. As your contributors rightly comment, bad school leaders can be found everywhere. The really worrying thing is that the school’s executive simply stuck their collective heads in the sand and allowed the principal’s witch-hunt to continue. Rabbits caught in the headlights? Tough it out and the storm will die down and soon everyone will forget? Anyone thinking of applying for a teaching job at Shanghai United International School should think twice. I left the school 18 months ago and am pleased I did so. As there were many who left, I presume that they will not be able to identify me…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Esther Joseph says:

      David Walsh is fast heading down a path of destruction – the pits he dug for others, he himself will fall in. I had a terrible experience with him a few years ago and he tried to bulldoze my career and reputation – well, it did not work. I still went back to China some time later. The replacement teacher they got only lasted a few months and that teacher too was eventually thrown out. After I left he hired and fired many others. David Walsh has earned himself the title of ‘Hitler of SUIS schools’. But a strategy is coming soon and he will be exposed globally on international TV news networks along with other Hitlers of international schools – after this, he will never get another job and hopefully he will find a hole to hide in and enough money to survive on, When things on an international scale hit him and his allies. I hope he has enough money for a lawyer but they say, when the Chinese deal with you, its brutal and this is how they will deal with this man. Things have come to a head – it’s time for global action to fight for our rights as professionals instead of allowing the same destructive cycles of brutal directors and owners to be repeated year after year. The time has come to act and fight.


    • powerinnumbers says:

      I was told by a director, who I respect very much, that “they” have a group of over 300 professionals who will not share references with the person requesting to protect the integrity of letters. I understand and respect this. My idea is that ISR could start a system, a sub-service, whereby teachers can review Principals and headhunters. This is just a suggestion, but we have power in numbers and could begin by surveying leaders and others.


    • Done That says:

      Isn’t that what the director and principal report section is for? Maybe they should add a recruiter report but I feel like the basic “sub-service” is already in place.


    • Dumpling says:

      Too bad you can not elaborate on this situation.


    • Dumpling says:

      Can you elaborate more on this situation?


  4. Linda Deborah Healy says:

    The best one can do might be to have a strong network of colleagues that work together in conscious, collective support of one another… Do this personally, on your own, and in consort with the likes of International Schools Review… Operate independently and outside the system… Chose your employers with the UTMOST care… Be the selector! This is the post-truth era…


  5. Anonymous says:

    A few years back I worked as a disillusioned junior administrator on a team where the Superintendent would instruct her team of heads to give the disruptive / non-performing teachers who had provided intent to leave “glowing” reviews as she wanted to be sure her school got rid of them. Her words:- “I want to make them someone else’s problem.”

    On the flip-side, there was those who she ruthlessly blackballed. She attempted to tarnish the career of anyone who called her into question, challenged her idea’s or anyone she perceived as a threat. Needless to say I learned a lot about what not to do working for the lady.

    Later it was with relief that I discovered the particular Superintendent I speak of had been marked as an unreliable referee. Her moves have been down the ladder rather than up.

    On the upside, my dealings (recruiting and hiring) with the Services is that they do track patterns and they are extremely well-networked. In my experience they have only been supportive and well-intentioned and they do patterns.

    Working with people is tricky. Whether interviewer or interviewee we all know the right thing to say. Teachers recruiting or administrators hiring, must take time, rushing brings 2 years worth of stress.

    This is a small community with a multitude of tools (ISR included) which bridge us. Staying connected with one another is not just informative but fun. There need be no excuse. Six degrees of separation applies in International Education – it works, if you take the time.


  6. Many years teaching says:

    This has happened to me. A director made sexual advances. I politely said no and told no one.

    They have not given me good references even though I worked hard and never caused any difficulties.
    Very hard to prove but I caught him by having a friend in a hiring position at another school call him for a reference. He is a rotten egg.

    Search is too quick to believe the employer. If a teacher has glowing recommendations for many years from all schools and there is 1 bad one, who should search believe?
    And while we are talking about search, what about the crap search wrote about why they won’t conduct online job fairs???!!! Time to find alternatives to rotten egg directors and Search.


  7. Anonymous says:

    This is not an isolated case in any way shape or form. I have been to 8 international schools in my 16 years of teaching internationally and unfortunately I never found one place where the director was worth his beans. I feel that these directors are all big snake oil salesmen. They have no idea about education and could not care any less about teachers or staff in general. They want to pick up their big paychecks and sit in their ivory towers and look down on all us minions doing the grunt work. These people lie unabashedly about a lot fo things. THeir egos are way too big and they are basically overpaid ego maniacs. It is why I have returned back to North AMerica. I can not stand the hypocritical way intl schools are run and the lack of protection for teachers. These dishonest snake oil salesmen can get away with murder, and having teachers deported, put in jail, passports confiscated and other horrible things in countries where they have no rights, and go home with millions of dollars and sleep well at night. It is deplorable. When I tell my teaching colleagues now in NA they are appalled and can not believe some fo the things I tell them that directors and principals have done and continue to do internationally. Problem is they will keep getting away with it since they are not held accountable. School boards are a big joke. They do nothing and certainly do not have teachers best interests in mind, which is ignorant of them because if teachers are happy students are happy and things run smoothly. Honestly all of these admin types should be banned they are as a whole a horrible and corrupt bunch of people. Glad I am not around it anymore. Get out while you still have your sanity and reputation in hand.


  8. Klaus says:

    This happens too often. The past principal at my last school would Google former teacher’s names and see which schools they were at. He then would email the schools to complain about the teacher. There are complaints in ISR about this principals at several schools and even one newspaper article but this guy is still able to get a leadership position.

    WASC, CIS, NEASC, IB, etc., do not offer any support especially if you are a lower tier school where I think many complaints come from.

    I personally have no faith in Search or other recruiting agencies. Their bottom line is money so of course they will stand by the schools and directors before the teachers.


    • Remainder says:

      WASC are completely useless and their credibility has been challenged given some of the appalling schools that they accredit.


    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely agree with you about WASC. Their accreditation means very little to many teachers I have spoken with and yes, I have worked at “WASC” accredited schools that were horrific.


  9. Anonymous says:

    I worked for a director who either refused to write letters of recommendation or would write skimpy ones. No big deal. I went around him and never asked for a letter.
    I had another principle, who I found out was giving me negative reviews. I had a friend call him pretending to be a principle. This is how I found out. Now I list the counselor as my supervisor. You just have to out think these idiots.
    There are terrible principles and school boards in the states as well. There is no perfect world in education.


    • Remainder says:

      WASC are completely useless and their credibility has been challenged given some of the appalling schools that they accredit.


  10. Michael Rossouw says:

    I agree with Omgarsenal and Barbara’s comments, especially when Directors tell recruiters “I don’t want to say anything bad about anyone, so I won’t say anything at all.” This comment has cost me at least one position, which, I know that my previous director made to the recruitersdeliberately spoil my chances of landing that particular position. In my time at this school I believe that, when I left, I left as a teacher in good standing. Never once was I disciplined or reprimanded for any incident regarding unprofessional conduct nor anything related to incidents which may have warranted disciplinary action in terms of the school’s code of conduct.Despite this I have been hired (twice) since then, but the damage caused to a teacher by a former director making statements such as this can be irreparable.


    • Mills says:

      Yes, it is too bad there is no way of retaliating against these ‘directors’ who give international education a bad name. I guess as someone else suggested, you could complain to your embassy – they won’t do anything but mud may stick and then of course, there is ISR… just because there is no review doesn’t mean that the director or school is good.


  11. Ouch! says:

    I was totally jacked by a director. The disgusting man tried to come on to me. I rejected him repeatedly. He eventually fired me citing as a reason that I didn’t display a professional appearance. I could have worn a paper bag and this perv would have harassed me. His secret is out on ISR. I’m still on the circuit. He is not.


  12. awareness says:

    I have been through both great and horrible leaders. Two schools ago the Director (Principal) told me to remove my title of Director of Student Services immediately because the only Director was him. Alarm bells went off, I could not prove my title was written anywhere on paper (lesson learned!), and I spent two years with my head down trying to avoid him and his ego and self-esteem problems. Recently I applied for a job with the same educational group and know that he gave me a bad reference that led to application failure. What was most hurtful was that the school I was applying to did not give weight to the other 5 reference provided that were positive.


  13. Kathleen says:

    My previous school had a brand new director that came to us not having finished her contract. She proceeded to get rid of me for “breaking the contract”. Never at ANY point in time was I actually given a reason. She has also continued to “get rid” of people. Prior to me our counselor and after me another teacher. This woman is unfit for her job and intimidates staff and forces them to lie. I have NO doubt that there are unqualified and unethical directors all over. This is the real world unfortunately.
    I never listed her as my director and avoided any questions about the situation.


  14. omgarsenal says:

    My experience with Search has been positive but it all depends on who your recruiter is. Bob Barlas (Canada) has been very supportive and actually sniffed out a false bad reference for me and my wife and also found a nice position for us the following year.
    That said, since there is no accountability or any way to take these lying administrators to task,legally or administratively, one has to be clear about references, ask the reference about what they are likely to say and even ask to see the reference beforehand.
    Lying administrators are common overseas since there are NO union protections in place (no unions!) and the old boys and girls club that are job fairs, allow them to badmouth and sabotage anyone’s career, even their fellow administrators.
    We will NEVER be safe until there is an international syndical organization that overseas teachers AND administrators belong to that has sufficient power and prestige to confront such lyers, and their all too tolerant owners/boards.


  15. Barbara says:

    I actually had a very good relationship with my administrator (the last one of 4 over a 2 year contract), but because I have seen said administrator give completely false and harmful references for other teachers who also finished their contracts in what they thought was good standings- And certainly never saw the negative references coming, I have not asked for a reference. It does make getting hired at a reputable school a bit harder, but not impossible. Sometimes schools do listen… But I also NEVER Bad mouth ANYONE- even when they emphatically deserve it.


  16. catherine Blackmore says:

    It happens quite a lot in International Schools. Lying about many things in fact that do not happen once you step inside the door of the school. There are many other very helpful recruiters who do not charge applicants so ask your friends how they were successful in obtaining their positions and give SEARCH A MISS


    • Hitchhiker says:

      Agreed.SEARCH is not the only recruiter. In fact, most of my colleagues who are leaving a toxic secondary school this year (I left already) because of the lying, ineffectual little rodent disguised as a ‘director’ got well paid positions through a variety of other agencies. This pitiful excuse for a human being only reluctantly provided basic references that couldn’t be trusted and at the end of the day, anyone using him as a referee would be crazy. One teacher reported him to WASC and the American Embassy. Teachers circumnavigated him and got references from the curriculum director and counsellor instead. Two of the teachers plan on bailing out over the summer despite having signed contracts for next year. Retaliation for bad treatment.


    • Teexh says:

      I was actually told by the Director of Search that they would not accept me because I had a Thai wife. Their loss I found a job a week after. Search treat teachers like dirt in my experience


    • Socrates says:

      And if we are at the same school, other high school teachers are quietly doing the same thing. The ‘curriculum’ director is a title in name only for the particular teacher that hates the ‘director; and idiotic owner of the school as much as everyone else and is also leaving – guess he gave his counsellor buddy as his referee.


  17. Prefer Not to Say says:

    I’m currently in a similar situation. My director and head of studies have not provided references for me. When I tried to sign up with Search, I approached both of the director and head of studies with requests for references because I wanted to leave this particular country. Both of them initially agreed, but they never completed the references for Search after multiple reminders about their agreement to do it before the deadline. I tried communicating with Search about the situation, offering to provide multiple references from students, parents, and co-workers, but they would not accept them. To make it even better, at the time I was the CAS coordinator and head teacher for one of the grades in high school. Once the Search deadline passed, they took these responsibilities from me and gave them to two other people with no relevant experience. The new CAS coordinator could barely speak English (the language of the school and IB program), but just happened to be quite friendly with the head of studies during that particular year. The school sort of has a responsibility-based bonus system, so that was an unexpected cut in my pay. When I asked them about it, they said I was no longer reliable. This went on for two years.

    This year, our school was inspected by the IB. The director and head of studies (also IB coordinator) were hysterical about this. We had training on how to respond to the inspectors’ questions, particularly about support from the admin. The inspectors demanded that the school start providing IB professional development support for us, so they bent and made a dramatic announcement in front of the inspectors that everyone was going to do workshops. During the inspection, and the professional development hysteria, I took advantage and asked them for a reference for entrance into another university diploma program. They said, “Sure, write your own and let us look it over before you submit.” So at least I have some sort of a reference.

    This is part of my problem with international education. The industry lends itself to qualified teachers who come and go. But most application processes assume that directors and heads of studies are as virtuous are their marketing slogans.


    • Ferula says:

      I am hearing more and more stories similar to this one. The only weapon that teachers have is to post on ISR and warn others. There are some very vindictive and insecure directors out there. I always ask for a reference after one year even on a two year contract as I say that I want to update my portfolio ..anything can happen before the end of a contract.


    • Barbara says:

      Ferula, I did the same, however so many recruiters now want a “blind” reference and it must be from current or last administrator in charge. They need to fill out the reference sheet sent by the school or recruiter. Which really leaves you stuck in some cases. My former school had more than 1 administrator who no matter WHO the teacher was and under what circumstances they left, would slam them in the references. There isn’t much you can do in circumstances like this.


    • mautio1 says:

      i had that experience. i knew a former head mistresses was speaking evil of me. i had four letters from parents and a two page memo from at least 12 of my parents pointing out her negative attitude towards me and her unprofessional behaviour towards me. I have had to use it because I was dismissed and need to defend myself in future jobs. I refuse to lie about not working because that will come back to bite me. I refuse to not have integrity.


    • mautio1 says:

      Hi. I did that. I posted on here of the treatment I was receiving at a school. A parent saw it, reported to the head mistress who threatened me with dismissal. She did not like my honest report. Four parents gave me glowing reference letters and my students’ parents wrote a scathing two page memo to the board regarding her behaviour towards me. She dismissed me 3 weeks before the end of the school year much to everyone’s dismay. she is evil.


    • The Directors want to keep their job so they are puppets of the Chairman or Owners etc. If they go against their demands there own position is at risk. Half of them are nothing but puppets looking for their next opportunity.


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