Another one bites the dust. North Oconee principal canned

Would a superintendent fire a perfectly good high school principal — who was raising student achievement — because he complained to a newspaper about his school’s athletic facilities?

That appears to be the case in Oconee County where Superintendent John Jackson fired North Oconee High School Principal John Osborne Friday for insubordination and willful neglect of his duties because he complained in the Athens Banner-Herald about his school’s lack of athletic facilities.

In an interview, Osborne commented to the newspaper that the sports facilities at his school were not up to those at rival Oconee County High. The principal may have been impolitic. His public griping may have even been a attempt to strong arm the school board into pumping more money into his facilities, but does his transgression merit dismissal?

The firing has set off a firestorm and a “Bring Mr. Osborne Back” Facebook page with 1,263 members as of Monday evening.

I don’t get the sense that good principals are wandering the streets in search of jobs. Do you dump one over something this absurd?

28 comments Add your comment

maureen's accountability metric

August 31st, 2009
5:38 pm

Maureen, this may be a prime example of why you don’t hear from more teachers in regard to CRCT cheating. Happened to an administrator this time, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong.

Seems like a clear case of why we need to strengthen whistle-blower protection in this state.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

August 31st, 2009
6:45 pm

{M}aureen’s accountability metric, Hear! Hear!


August 31st, 2009
7:16 pm

I posted this the other day on the Whistle-blower blog. It is probably more appropriate here, so here it is again. You know Maureen, I do not know why this story is so significant. The next story I expect to see on this blog is the Osborne story in Oconee County. Retaliation of this nature has become the norm in public schools. Good principals (which there are few and I include Tony in this category) who do not fall into line with the “program” are pushed out. Good teachers who do not agree with the administration’s agenda find themselves harassed, given biased evaluations, or without a job. Even good students incur the wrath of a teacher who is biased. I attribute some of this small mindedness to what I call the “Diploma Mill-Coach-Schools of Education Low Entrance Requirement” Syndrome or DiMCSELER for short. You see, many administrators (and teachers) get their advanced degrees at some nebulous institution that has found that for a few thousand dollars their students can read articles on the latest and greatest fad in education, do “research “ on the internet, and then meet once a week or month somewhere to discuss these “findings”. Then after about a year of this, poof, these folks have “earned” a degree and they are “armed” with the knowledge or lack thereof that goes with it along with the pay raise. It is very rare to find an administrator who is truly an academic. Many of the administrators who I have encountered are ex-football coaches who have outlived their glory days and could not come up with a bright idea if you rubbed their head on a sidewalk. They run the school and manage personnel as if they were still on the football field. Which finally brings me to my last symptom of this horrible, horrible syndrome and that are the low entrance requirements into schools of education. Maureen, did you know that for an undergraduate to be admitted into a school of education in Georgia, a student does not even have to have a 3.0 GPA? These are the real issues of why education is in the state it is in but DiMCSELER Syndrome persists because too many teachers need their jobs (me included), especially in this economy; therefore, public education will probably will not change anytime soon.

Got that t-shirt

August 31st, 2009
7:24 pm

Having been an administrator ousted for standing my ground with a Supt. I will tell you it happens and is a nightmare. Administrators have no tenure and no rights to due process in a situation like this. I really feel for the guy. In my case they still hound me in my subsequent position. Some of these people are downright vicious, telling people “@@@ will never work again” and such and then they try and be sure that comes to pass.


August 31st, 2009
8:20 pm

This is typical. And still people complain about teachers having “fair dismissal rights” (it is NOT tenure). BTW, I don’t think super’s really want “good” admin…the want “good” yes men. The poop rolls down hill from there.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2009
9:07 pm

Maureen: This is not shocking at all. This is the culture now. You complain, you get canned. That simple. This is why we end up with a bunch of sycophants in administration these days. I am actually shocked when I find a man or woman in school administration who actually has any integrity. They are plastic as h-ll and phoney as a three dollar bill. I have said it many times on this blog…They do not want good administrators; they want booger-eaters, yes men, and weasels who will eat sh-t and smile while eating it.


August 31st, 2009
9:19 pm

We had a good administrator who stood up to the others in the CO. He lasted through 2 years of eating doo-doo, then he decided life is too short to be bent over all the time. Now we have NO one effective advocating for students and teachers.

We were told in fac meet the other day (by an attorney) that there are no additional whistleblower safeguards for teachers to keep them from being harrassed and retaliated against.


August 31st, 2009
9:47 pm

Maureen – suggestion – you need to get your tech people to add a “Recent Comments” widget – it’s easier to stay on top of the conversations that way…


August 31st, 2009
9:53 pm

Cere, I agree with the recent comments widget. By the way, I am a big fan of DeKalb School Watch. Maureen


August 31st, 2009
10:00 pm

Recent comments widget is a great idea!

maureen's accountability metric

August 31st, 2009
10:10 pm

Out of curiosity, have the folks at DeKalb School Watch ever commented on the allegations that a DeKalb County school official, a state senator no less, violated state law by shutting down a grievance hearing just as a teacher was about to testify about cheating at a DeKalb County High school?

And have they ever done any number crunching to confirm or deny reports that DeKalb County Schools spends over a hundred million dollars a year more in administrative salaries than does Fulton County?

Been There. . . Done, well. . . just done!

September 1st, 2009
12:12 am

Maureen and those of you who’re solid teachers and administrators, all one would have to do to find an encapsulated example of the system works against educators and other related professionals is to look at a couple of situations within Cobb County. Please check it this link to get a snippet of the harm done to teachers and GOOD, SOLID, professional administrators:,E&p_text_date-0=10/29/2007%20to%209/1/2009)&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=(Lawrence%20Bynum)&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

September 1st, 2009
1:24 am

In late 1999, I communicated to our county school superintendent written allegations concerning mismanagement and worse at a HS where I taught. For my trouble, the HS’s principal tried “to ruin my career.” Fortunately, I had befriended much bigger dogs than had she, so I survived. But my attorney tells me that the “whistleblower protections” that existed then have been eviscerated. Will we only voice complaints about this evisceration as well as about the governmental and corporate bureaucratic aggrandizement which accompanies it or will we foil it?

maureen's accountability metric

September 1st, 2009
1:33 am

I do believe that whistleblower protections have been eviscerated, as Dr. Spinks states. There’s a 2006 Supreme Court decision that puts severe limits on free speech while doing official duties.

Ironically the NEA has a release suggesting that you may have more protection going to the local newspaper than the local superintendent; the NEA says this is because it’s harder for a school system to claim you were performing “official duties” when you talked to the media, than when you talked with the school system.

Maybe we will be fortunate enough in the future to have some Supreme Court Justices that remember the benefits of the “wise educators” they had growing up and will revisit that ruling.


September 1st, 2009
5:30 am

Aw come on, you think that this principal got fired because he complained to the newspaper? That was the excuse. Or maybe it was the last straw. They probably have been butting heads for a long time.

Trying to show your boss up in a public manner is risky business. As the old saying goes, “He may not always be right, but he is always the boss.”

There is another old saying, “Choose your battles wisely.”

School Master

September 1st, 2009
6:07 am

Typical of the morons in these school districts—firing good people because they disagree with poorly run schools. No wonder the education system is totally messed up.


September 1st, 2009
7:10 am

Osborne made a decision to not schedule football games with their intra-county rival Oconee County High for the next five years because Oconee Co. HS has two weight training rooms and North Oconee HS has none. He said that made his school uncompetitive and gave Oconee HS an unfair advantage. The decision to not play OCHS affected all sports–not just football. OCHS is a AAA school, NOCHS is a AA school. OCHS has gone 4-7 for the last three years, NOCHS’s record is 7-3, 9-1 and 9-3 over the same time frame. Both schools will probably be classified next school year as AAA schools. He made the decision without consulting with or informing before hand the Oconee Co. Athletic Director.

Word on the street is that the vast majority of NOCHS students disagreed with the decision. The football coaches were divided on the decision and the coaches of the other sports were furious.

You decide–insubordination or principal looking out for the best interest of the children?



September 1st, 2009
7:34 am

Taking Tom’s post above into consideration, is it possible judgments are being made without having all the facts of this story? The only thing we know is what was reported. Is it possible the article that appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald was the final straw from a series of internal warnings?

Yes the superintendent handled the firing because that is their job. But the superintendent reports to the Board and they approve personnel decisions like this. Is it possible that advocates for the school asked their Board members and superintendent to take action against the principal?


September 1st, 2009
8:41 am

So interesting larger topic…whistleblower protection. There is an article in the Gwinnett Forum magazine today ( by an unnamed husband of an unnamed GCPS teacher sharing criticism about class size in Gwinnett (rising to 40 students in one high school class ) now that the “IE2″ flexibility waiver was approved by the state.

I am in agreement – whistleblower protection has to be important for educators. I am a parent but a county staff member tried to intimidate a boss of mine who had an important relationship with the school system ( I don’t work in the school system) because of my presentation of educational issues – I can’t even begin to imagine what happens to actual employees.

jim d

September 1st, 2009
8:44 am

Nice fluff peice but I fail to see what it has to do with EDUCATIO.

jim d

September 1st, 2009
8:44 am


September 1st, 2009
12:51 pm

Being a principal these days can come at a price. For people with strong principles and values, it is vital for them to be able to stand up for what they believe. The art of choosing battles is important, but sacrificing one’s own personal beliefs is another.

For me, it has not come to that point, but I am prepared for the day when it does. A person of integrity will receive other rewards. The people of Oconee County can certainly speak on behalf of him through their board of education members.


September 1st, 2009
3:50 pm

And this is why Georgia makes no progress in the eduation arena. Our children are the ones that suffer because Administration selects every edufad out there. They do not take time to talk to teachers and get their thoughts unless the teacher or principal is a yes person. Maureen do us a favor and have some real, in-depth investigating reporting into Cobb or Gwinett county schools. Parents are happy that SACS will review Cobb this year. They hope that all the slimey dealings are finally put under the microscope. Soliciting thoughts is fine, but it isn’t making any positive changes for our children and their education in GA.


September 1st, 2009
6:06 pm

Don’t count on any accreditation process to come up with findings. Our alternative schools were accredited and reaccredited in Gwinnett when there was only one principal for the two locations, no media center, no nurse, students missing in school PSAT and SAT testing, students kept out of school for close to 19 school days because of an orientation policy that could not keep pace with the amount of students entering, no free/reduced breakfast when the poverty population was higher than most of the other “traditional” public schools in our county, and kids were using “instructional time” to go out an clean up offices in the community. Oh — and they did not have any local school councils in effect….unless your community can bring the microscope and hand it to SACS and sit there while they question the administrators — I am fearful you will have little luck.


September 1st, 2009
8:26 pm

Been thinking about this some more…..

…. and I sure am happy to know that North Oconee High Schools science labs are fully stocked, that the teachers have the necessary resources to TEACH, that the students are not warehoused in trailers like a bunch of sardines, that they have computers that actually work, etc, etc, etc.

….. and the ONLY thing he has to complain about is the sub-standard weight room.

Give me a break. Maybe the superintendent was right for firing his butt…..

6th grade teacher

September 1st, 2009
9:55 pm

When the day comes when teachers/principals are afraid to voice opinions is the day our kids miss out…. wait I think we might already be there

Just a sub

September 2nd, 2009
8:00 am

LOVE YOU PEOPLE! I’ve been an educator for 35 years, written books, travelled to many states as a writing expert, and cannot get a full-time teaching position here in Ga–can’t even get an interview at the school where I subbed almost every day a year ago (or anyplace else). The problems you’re talking about are so rampant that at times it feels like some of the buildings are Mob-run or maybe operated by a bunch of teenagers concerned with who’s popular and shouldn’t be offended, and who’s worthless and can be mocked. It’s too sad, because it’s not only hurting the students’ chance of a real education, it’s hurting their future, and by extension, everyone’s.

Winfield J. Abbe

December 19th, 2009
6:36 pm

The stupid people of Georgia love secrecy. Then they wonder why events like this happen. The law also provides immunity from claims to public officials. If citizens want control of public officials, secrecy must be removed and immunity must be removed. Force all public agencies, police departments, school boards, all government, the UGA Real Estate Foundation, etc, to operate in the open in the light of day. Change the law to force all public officials to be sued personally and provide their own defense at their own expense. What is wrong with requiring them to be personally responsible for their actions for a change? The power granted to the school board is granted in the state law and its interpretation.
The school board lawyer also operates in secret. Citizens cannot even find out how much money he is paid. He invokes the “lawyer-client” privilege of confidentiality. This principle was never intended to keep public information secret. Its only purpose was to protect the rights of a criminal defendant. Lawyers love secrecy too. They do not want to be found with their hands in the cookie jar. They may even recommend and direct school boards to violate the law behind closed doors. After all, how would you know, it is all secret isn’t it? All participants, the members of the school board, county attorney, superintendent love secrecy since then they can act improperly without public embarrassment or disclosure. They do not have to defend their corrupt actions to anyone. They are like dictators, autocrats. You can thank your state lawmakers for this sordid situation. You and all of us must demand these secrecy laws be removed.
As a distinguished justice said, I believe it was Brandeis, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. Isn’t it funny how the laws in Georgia are patterned after Nazi, Germany and the former Soviet Union? Evidently all these lawmakers learned from history is tyranny against their own constituents. And while the Athens Banner Herald could do much more investigating themselves, secrecy laws hamper them too.
While I do not usually assoicate with anonymous posters, I would associate with “em” above. Most administrators in public education these days have the easy degree, usually a worthless Ed.D degree from UGA or some other cesspool of an institution. Most of them couldn’t pass an 8th grade class in physics. How often do you observe any of these schools run by people with Ph.D. degree in engineering, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, etc., ? Virtually never. The scum rises to the top. The incompetent shall inherit the earth. Have you ever observed how many coaches end up as principals? This emphasizes the importance of abolishing secrecy laws so the duped taxpayers can for some change in the education cesspool in Georgia.
Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics
150 Raintree Ct.
Athens, GA