Witch Hunt

November 19, 2015

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..Hello ISR – I am writing to relate to you an experience I had at my previous school which left me feeling ‘shell shocked.’ I’ve been long-gone from that snake pit for some time now and finally feel safe in sharing with you what amounted to an inquisition which left me feeling emotionally abused and violated. I’m certain there are teachers out there who had a similar such experience as mine. If you could provide a place where we could communicate and support each other that would be wonderful. Thanks for your kind consideration. Here’s what happened:

..On a Friday morning I was called into the main office during my prep period and asked to take a seat on the ‘visitors’ side of the director’s desk. After a brief exchange of small talk he turned his computer screen my way, and there, illuminated in all its glory, was a review of our school on ISR. I could hardly hold back a smile and somehow managed to look at him inquisitively as he let loose with accusations — “I know you wrote this….make this easy for both of us and confess.” Assuming a puzzled look with my head wagging subtlety back and forth, I replied with a deeply offended tone of voice, that it was not me who wrote the review. I knew who did and I was glad she did.

..The next person to enter was the school’s attorney. He threatened me with a civil suit for defamation and/or deportation or maybe something even worse. I stuck to my position of innocence. At lunch I learned from other teachers that some of them had been called into the office and given the same third-degree routine. The director was on a ‘witch hunt.’ By Monday, 3 new reviews were residing on ISR, each warning the international teaching world about this hellhole.

..Angered, the director called the entire faculty to an after-school meeting. More threats were hurled and we learned he had written a letter to ISR demanding the reviews be removed and the authors’ names revealed or a lawsuit would ensue against your web site. To his dismay, ISR posted the letter along with the reviews! It was a nasty piece of work, which only served to prove the reviews were fair representations of him and his school.

..Tuesday morning we were greeted with a memo telling us that one of the principals was good friends with an ISR staff member who would send him the names of the authors. The memo concluded with a statement telling us that if the authors turned themselves in all would be forgiven and they would simply need to request that ISR remove the reviews.

..Feeling paranoid, I wrote to you guys and asked if it was possible for the principal to get any names. I don’t know if you remember as this was some years ago. You assured me that when you say reviews are received anonymously, it means that even you don’t know who submitted them. I knew the principal was lying to us but it felt good to hear you say you have security measures in place to completely protect our anonymity. I spread the word to the faculty. It was clear to all of us — the director had nothing on anyone and was bluffing.

..Things quieted down and the school year progressed with no further incidents. But, as recruiting season approached, the majority of us decided not to extend our contract. The director then announced he would not be writing any letters of reference this year, nor would he return phone calls to any schools calling to inquire about those of us applying for positions. His excuse was it took up ‘precious time he could devote to managing the school.’ If you call toting around a cell phone on a golf course on mid-Wednesday morning ‘managing a school,’ then so be it.

..I have since found a position at a wonderful school where teachers are valued and supported. I couldn’t be happier here. I’m so glad I didn’t just up and leave international teaching. Still, to this day I carry with me the residual fallout of that awful experience. I find it hard to shake off. Being in a foreign country where I had no rights and was completely subject to the whims of someone I considered to be off-balance was a frightening experience, particularly since that person was accusing me of something that could land me in deep, deep, trouble.

..Based on reviews I read on ISR and the threatening letters you have posted from directors, I’m certain there are teachers out there who had similar such abusive experiences as mine. A place where we could communicate and support each other would be wonderful. Once again, thanks for your kind consideration. there are teachers out there who had similar such abusive experiences as mine. A place where we could communicate and support each other would be wonderful. Once again, thanks for your kind consideration.

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