5 Principals Who Turned Their Schools Into Hell On Earth
From Mr. Weatherbee to Seymour Skinner, principals are an easy and popular target for mockery in movies and on TV. They can't even catch a break in twerking videos, it seems. But in reality, we can almost always count on the learned men and women in charge of our schools to be paragons of virtue, and to make sound decisions that will serve as a beacon for all those who toil in the educational system. Only very rarely will you run across one whose behavior is so abhorrent that it makes you wonder how he or she was ever put in charge of the paddlin' implements in the first place. So just keep telling yourself, "There's probably no way my kid's principal is doing heinous crap like ..."
Telling The Most Inappropriate Jokes Imaginable
Many of us fondly remember a "cool" teacher we had in middle school -- one of the rare few whom you could joke around with, and who could take it just as well as they could dish it out. Maybe you can even recall some of the fun conversations you had in the classroom. Like the time he started cracking knee-slappers about eighth-grade sex, the benefits of suicide, and how he may or may not be a pedophile. Oh wait, that wasn't middle school. I must have been having a juvenile detention flashback there for a second. An actual teacher would never spout off with some crazy shit like that. Nope. When you're in the market for that kind of salty repartee, you need to head over to the principal's office.
"Welcome to the parent/teacher conference. Those bathrooms on the right are where all the buttfucking happens. Ha ha, just yanking your chain, chief."
The Vancouver Waldorf School is, well, a Waldorf school, which is a type of learning institution that occasionally dabbles in areas both hippy and dippy. I talked about them here, much to the chagrin of graduates who didn't partake in the extreme New Age floobityjoob that certain facilities offer in their curricula. So anyways, one might suppose that the faculty at a school like that would be especially sensitive toward the feelings of the students, and make every effort to refrain from engaging in such unseemly microaggressions such as handing a knife to an autistic girl and telling her to kill herself. Which, incredibly, is something that allegedly happened. And I say "incredibly" because as wacky and culty as some of school founder Rudolf Steiner's ideas were, at least he never went into full-blown Mola Ram territory.
"Choose a pine cone from the basket, each of which represents the still-beating heart of those meddlers from the county Board of Education."
Here's the full, absolutely non-mitigating context. A young girl (an autistic one, I should re-emphasize) in the classroom of educator Gerard McIntosh asked if she could have an eraser. In response, McIntosh (who also happened to be the school's principal) offered her a pocket knife and told her, "Here, use this to erase your life." I'm just going to assume that he didn't actually allow the girl to take possession of the blade. After all, he was just kidding, folks!
But maybe this was just a momentary lapse in judgement, and the man was simply trying out his new special needs material on a tough room. If he did indeed harbor some standup aspirations, you have to admire his dedication to pushing the comedy envelope. Especially after that time he was asked if he planned on wearing a costume to a seventh/eighth-grade Halloween party, and he told a bunch of students that he planned on wearing the clothes he had on, because he was already "dressed like a pedophile."
After that last swing and a miss, McIntosh followed up with this little imbroglio: While escorting a group of eighth-graders to visit the classroom of some 11th graders, he decided to lighten the mood by talking to the older kids about how one of of his younger students in particular would "probably say something stupid like 'how do you get laid in grade nine?'" I'm not sure if those were the exact words he used, since the source was paraphrasing. It may very well have been put in a much more tasteful way -- like, "See this hairless dipshit here? He's such a fucking retard that he'll probably ask you cunts how he can get his dick wet!" But at least there's no record of McIntosh ever busting out with the rape jokes, so he was merely suspended and put on paid leave instead of being fired.
Making Poor Kids Dress Up In Tuxedos And Gowns
Female principals aren't normally thought of as being fashionable or glamorous, and that's a damn shame. After all, the very job description means that you're inherently going to have a legion of "little people" to act as your entourage, and likely a gaggle of underpaid, frumpy underlings to make you look better in comparison as you sashay up and down the hallways in your miniskirt and mink coat. And certainly, it should be within the bounds of propriety to occasionally host swanky events where you make the underprivileged kids who attend your school dress in tuxedos and bridesmaids dresses (on their own dime, of course) while you reign over the proceedings in a fancy gown. Only the seethingly jealous or the boringly gauche would seek to deprive you of your rightful due. Because after all, isn't "principal" just another word for "queen," when you think about it? Wait, it isn't? Well, somebody better tell this lady.
Because the haters just can't recognize what a fine line there is between the Cannes red carpet and a public school in Queens.
But before we go any further, let's set the stage. There's a notorious elementary school in Queens, NY which was given a rather less-than-prestigious nickname by The New York Post: "The School of No." That sobriquet came about not because the students are stubbornly contentious during debate class, or because they frequently hold up legislation during sessions of Congress, but because it's been alleged that precisely NO learning went on there. There were no gym or art classes. No substitutes were brought in when a teacher called in sick. There were little to no books, and the learning-disabled kids received no specialized education. What P.S. 106 did have was a TV, apparently, since the only thing they did there all day was "watch more movies than Siskel and Ebert," according to one source. It was like a Michelle Pfeiffer movie, only more meta, since they probably watched Dangerous Minds at least twice a week.
I couldn't find any famous graduates, but Queens native Ray Romano probably got high and ran naked down that dirt road at least once.
They also had plenty of rats scampering inside the walls, and the ever-present, festive smell of urine which infused the dilapidated trailers which they called classrooms. But another thing they didn't have was a principal. Or at least, one who bothered to show up (to earn the $128,000 yearly salary) with regularity. But when she did, it must have been quite the event when she pulled up to the facility in her BMW, bedecked in all her regal finery.
It appears we may have solved the case of the 101 missing Shih Tzus.
If you can say one thing about Marcella Sills, the head of "The School of No," it's that she knew the importance of maintaining appearances. And though she likely had no illusions regarding the financial status of the children under her care (to the point where one might even call it "delusional") she nonetheless would ask their parents to foot the bill for an annual black tie affair. Kids were expected to show up in rented formal attire, and for the last one (which was in the wake of Hurricane Sandy), the cost of attendance was reportedly around $110, with one parent claiming to have had to fork out over $200. And presiding over it all every year was Ms. Sills, in her strapless "bridal-type" gown, white gloves, and presumably a sensible pair of glass stilettos.
Because "belle of the ball" is such a more pleasant title than "administrator."
After a formal inquiry, Ms. Sills was given the freedom to pursue other areas of interest, which may have included putting in an application to join the Disney stable of over-the-top cartoon villains. In other words, she was fired. Not for the party stuff, but because she wasn't a fan of showing up for work. Hopefully, the new principal will start turning things around and ... oh. Well shit. It looks like the new one's even worse.
Openly Mocking The Handicapped
When you work in special education, you're bound to run into a lot of stupid kids. It's frustrating. The endless litany of "I have dyslexia" and "Wah, my autism makes life hard" can get tiresome real quick. You need to have a healthy outlet for relieving all the pent-up stress that comes from being surrounded by feeble-witted dullards and drool-lipped dunderheads. And what better way to ease the tension than through the healing power of humorous interoffice memos? You know, so you can share your true feelings with co-workers, and refer to the kids as "morons" and "village idiots." You just have to stay on your toes and make sure that the parents, God forbid, don't actually get ahold of those memos. Otherwise, you could wind up like Mike Ditka's stunt double here.
As the principal of Calare Public School in Orange, Australia, it fell to Chris Cundy to disseminate to his staff the news of an upcoming mental health and social skills workshop that was to take place at the school. Dispensing with the idea of a boring, formal announcement, Cundy decided to get creative, just for giggles. And it might very well have been a laugh riot if he had read it aloud to an audience of portly vacationers in the Catskills circa 1954. But unfortunately, the year was 2014, and it turns out that the parents of handicapped children didn't appreciate how he referred to the workshop as "Operation Nutcase." But oh, it gets so much worse.
Cundy also advised his teachers to be on the lookout for certain types of children who would be prime candidates for the event -- those who displayed the following characteristics:
Suffering from undue anxiety
Lacking any resilience
Poor socializing skills
He suggested that the letter sent out to the parents might begin with: "Have you bred a moron? ... You might like to access the services of Calare's new 'Operation Nutcase.'" Then, to cap it off, he advised that anyone wishing to participate in the workshop "sign on the dotted line, or leave your thumbprint if you can't write."
For some reason, "spectacularly jug-like ears" wasn't on the list.
Cundy also offered his services to the parents themselves, should they so choose: "If you are a bit of a nut yourself you might want to squeeze in a session between the kids and lie on my couch." Obviously, when those aforementioned parents got wind of Cundy's ill-advised rib-ticklers, they were as cross as a frog in a sock (I read somewhere that's Australian for "pissed"), and some threatened to sue. One such parent said that Cundy's remarks caused the entire family to feel like they were "the scum of society," and that a defamation lawsuit was forthcoming. Presumably, they just need to see if there are any local attorneys willing to give them a two-for-one deal for their daughter's multiple heads.
"She's so upset that she's only eaten two, maybe three flies all week."
At least that dude tried to keep his shitty comments private. Check out what happens when someone goes public with their nonsense, and starts ...
Spewing Racist Shit At A Graduation Ceremony
Despite the fact that you're celebrating the achievements of teenagers who may or may not have concealed liquor flasks in their socks with attached surgical tubing that leads up through their collar and into sipping range, high school graduation ceremonies are typically at least somewhat dignified affairs. So if people in the audience get up to leave right as the valedictorian is about to speak, one might find it perfectly understandable that the person in charge might publicly express their displeasure at such an unconscionable act of rudeness. And then, of course, mention how their behavior shouldn't be especially surprising. Because after all, they're black.
Let's just begin by letting you know that Nancy Gordeuk, former principal of a school in Stone Mountain, Georgia, is really, really sorry for what she said during the graduation ceremony held earlier this year (where the exact scenario discussed above played out). And she should be -- not just because of the racial overtones, but because it was her fault that people got up to leave in the first place. But as she explains, it seems that "the Devil was in the house and came out from my mouth" that day, and when several people left their seats after she mistakenly dismissed the audience prematurely (before everyone else had a chance to embarrass themselves on the microphone), she announced: "You people are being so rude to not listen to this speech. Look who's leaving, all the black people."
"It's not like this is a swimming lesson or something, amirite?"
Pandemonium ensued, resulting in the atmosphere becoming just slightly more unruly than it was beforehand, admittedly. Gordeuk claimed that her outburst was an ill-advised reaction to the disrespectful crowd, and due to the frustration she felt over "an unknown man" walking to the front of the stage and disrupting the proceedings with a recording device. When she asked for security to escort the man away, some in the audience began to boo, whereupon Gordeuk claims that "my emotions got the best of me." Neither that nor the Flip Wilson "the devil made me do it" defense made much of an impression on the Georgia NAACP President, however, and the school's board of directors decided that it was best if Gordeuk's further employment be discontinued.
"Oh, great. Now I'm going to have to hang out with you people on the welfare line, too?"
Gordeuk still has her supporters, however -- the most most notable being her teenage son. He's remained steadfastly in his mother's corner, and has ardently come to her defense on social media. Which is ... something he should really stop doing.
Let's not judge him too harshly until he's at least old enough to buy his own menthol cigarettes.
Not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis. But for those who are, it can be a wondrous tool for half-assed smoking cessation, humiliating yourself on an off-the-strip Vegas stage, or recalling events that may or may not have happened. Or, if you're the sort who's willing to explore the evil possibilities inherent in the power of suggestion, it's also apparently great for robbing convenience stores. The potential for villainy isn't all that it's cracked up to be in cartoons, however, and you'd be hard-pressed to find examples people losing their lives directly due to the acts of a hypnotist. You know, aside from that time a high school principal was blamed for causing the deaths of several of his students as a result of his amateur pocket watch dangling
I've been uncomfortable using the words "hypnotized" and "dangling" together since my gym started offering senior discounts.
Despite the fact that a principal conducting extracurricular hypnosis sessions with his students seems like a rather shady activity (there's probably an entire channel dedicated to this exact scenario on YouPorn), Dr. George Kenney probably had nothing but the best intentions in mind for the students of North Port High School in Florida. Hypnosis was his hobby, it seems, and though he never received certification for performing hypnotherapy (which involves receiving a top hat and and a black and white swirly thingy in the mail, I guess), he became rather proficient at it. So, believing that his students might benefit from his "expertise," Dr. Kenney started putting them under to help out with their various adolescent conundrums.
Over the course of a few years, it's estimated that he repeatedly hypnotized around 75 students (as well as staff). Everything was just peachy, except for one tiny thing: An alarming percentage of the kids started killing themselves.
"1-800 Jokes. What is your emergency?" "I need something on teen suicide, quick. I have a deadline to meet, and I don't want to come off like an asshole." "Please hold." "Alright, my supervisor suggests that you post a picture of your dog and hope nobody notices."
Who's a good boy? Anyway, while suicide and teenagers certainly aren't mutually exclusive, even when you're talking about the ones who aren't fans of Robert Smith's snivelier offerings, it all seemed too much to be just coincidence, and Dr. Kenney's homeschooled hocus pocus was determined by some to be responsible. But let's quickly examine what exactly happened.
Dr. Kenney hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley to "help him do better with his guitar practice," and McKinley hanged himself the very same day.
Subsequent to Dr. Kenney having "informally diagnosed" 17-year-old Brittany Palumbo for anxiety and hypnotizing her for it, Palumbo also hanged herself.
To help 16-year-old Marcus Freeman (the school's star quarterback) play through pain during games, Dr. Kenney got hypnotically involved, teaching Freeman how to put himself into a trance. As Freeman's girlfriend reported, as they were driving home after one session of self-hypnosis, he basically played out a scene from The Happening: He "suddenly got a strange look on his face," veered off the interstate for no apparent reason whatsoever, and wound up in a collision that killed him.
So there were now several dead kids, none of whom had a reported history of depression, and the one link between them was this bearded weirdo who was "treating" them with some sideshow gimmick. This point of view isn't exactly without merit, considering that while hypnotism seems to be effective in some circumstances, it doesn't even have a standard scientific definition yet. Like the off-the-books gynecologist whom the Kardashians probably keep on staff to deal with the constant chafing infections, Dr. Kenney was no expert, and tinkering in the unknown.
"My true passion is cruise ship entertainment."
Was Dr. Kenney liable? The Sarasota County School Board seems to have made that conclusion, seeing as how they paid $600,000 in total settlement money to the relatives of the deceased. According to a lawyer for the grieving families, he "altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it." In the aftermath of the uproar, Dr. Kenney was placed on administrative leave, stripped of his teaching credentials, and ultimately charged with a criminal offense. Not murder, but "practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license."
But is this really fair? The Amazing Kreskin doesn't think so. When asked about the case recently, the famed mentalist didn't mince words: "Talk about a disgraceful abuse of scientific mumbo jumbo. There is the immense power of suggestion but hypnosis is B.S." Kreskin has a standing offer of $100,000 to anyone who can prove that hypnotic trances are an actual thing, by the way. He also made a pretty solid point:
"If it's possible to cause suicide through hypnosis, should I seriously consider going on satellite television with the attempt to attract viewers who are members of ISIS and then bring about mass suicide of our enemy? The question I suggest is who in the hell had the asinine, imbecilic, stupid, unscientific idea that this had to do with hypnosis?"
There are a lot of "amazing" things about Kreskin, but measured restraint apparently is not one of them.
OK, maybe. But hey, wait a minute, smart guy. If hypnotism doesn't work, how do you explain the fact that my grandpa went to a hypnotist one time, and now he's so stiff you can suspend him between two chairs without collapsing? Oh right, he's dead. Well, let's just agree that principals shouldn't be allowed to do anything with our kids that's considered filler on late night talk shows. Just in case.
E. Reid Ross also battles hordes of flying spiders over at Man Cave Daily. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.