The APS cheating scandal has led the system to pursue principal firings in schools where there was widespread cheating by classroom teachers.
But some principals counter that they did not order teachers to cheat, so why are they to blame when their employees do the wrong thing. Are they responsible for the actions of their teachers? Even if they should have known something was amiss, what if they didn’t?
In the AJC story this week on her APS tribunal hearing, Slater Elementary School principal Selena Dukes Walton contended, “I am not responsible for something I did not know about. I’m not responsible for the teacher.”
But in an interview with the AJC last week, APS Superintendent Erroll Davis said, “When principals say to me that ‘The investigators’ report said I wasn’t involved, why am I being removed from the job?’ I say, ‘Absolutely, you did not cheat but you failed. I put the malleable lives of young children in your hands and you failed.”’
Davis said, “You can predict for risk and you should manage that risk. That is what a leader has to do.You have to manage the risk. You are accountable. You are responsible for everything that happens on your watch.’”
But how far should that chain of culpability extend? Could we argue that all school leaders in APS, including those in the central office, were responsible for failing to detect the cheating that was occurring under their watch? If so, then Davis would have a lot more terminations to consider.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog