Why for the first time in a very long teaching career am I speaking out against administration
I’m speaking out against Dave Linzey and the Board because I have been teaching a long time and I have never seen anything close to the abuse of power and the heavy handed manner in which Dave Linzey treats employees. It started for me at a couple years ago at a staff meeting when he was overtly critical and controlling while one of the directors was giving a presentation to the staff. Mr. Linzey interrupted, corrected, and actively controlled what was being said throughout the presentation with a scowl on his face and absolutely no regard for how embarrassing it was for the person presenting. I have never seen anyone on an administrative team treated so disrespectfully in front of the staff without tact or diplomacy. The tension in the room could be felt by all and it was the topic of discussion afterwards by many of my colleagues. I thought to myself, maybe he’s having a bad day, maybe this subordinate had done something previously to deserve this embarrassment in front of his staff. I tried to dismiss it because I wanted to believe in the image I had of Mr. Linzey up to that point. The leader I thought he was would have taken this person aside privately and coached them toward improvement not publicly shame them. As difficult as it was to witness this treatment, I think I would have been able to let it go if it had happened only once, but it happened on a regular basis.
Then I started hearing stories of abusive behavior from Mr. Linzey toward other administrative team members and clerical staff, some to the point of tears. Then more stories emerged of individual teachers who took him up on his invitation to talk to him about their concerns but who ended up walking out of his office feeling very dismissed. Then the stories stopped being stories and I was hearing first-hand testimonies from teachers whom I respected and trusted that they had the same experience, and a few that felt analyzed and manipulated. But still, I kept my concerns to myself because I wanted desperately for all of this to blow over and for my dream of working for a school with the kind of leadership that the vision of our charter would require was still possible. Finally, because no one was getting any consideration from Dave Linzey , two teachers bravely wrote to the board. At the time we all thought there was a chance for the board to intervene and there could be action taken to resolve some of the unrest. From that point on I think anyone who’s been paying attention knows the story because those two highly respected teachers became the focus of an ugly and demeaning public attack by Mr. Linzey’s supporters. The response from Mr. Linzey during all this? Radio silence. He refers to our staff as “family,” and yet he did not come to the defense of decency and ask for his supporters to stop saying the hurtful things that were being said. He allowed the attacks to continue without calling for an end to the mean-spirited nature of the attacks and urging respectful discourse and resolution to our differences. If anyone treated one of my family members like these teachers were treated I would have come to their defense. But this didn’t happen; he left them out to dry.
That was it for me, I could no longer stay in denial. I had to admit to myself, being someone who has studied leadership, that there was something seriously wrong with Mr. Linzey’s leadership style. Something had to change and I became more involved. At that time, I wasn’t hoping for Mr. Linzey’s resignation, I wanted the board to step in and make it clear that this teacher-bashing needs to stop, that there needs to be a closer adherence to the vision of the charter which calls for transparency and inclusion by all stakeholders, and that there will be action taken to resolve the disputes between teachers and Mr. Linzey. But when the board showed itself to be nothing more than an extension of Dave Linzey’s dictatorial style of decision making by firing Pat Middendorf, one of the founders of our charter, it was the last straw and that was when my gloves came off.
I didn’t want to think these things about Dave Linzey, but his actions of deception and corruption speak louder than his words of “can’t we all just get along.” I no longer think he’s a kind and caring person; I think he’s cold and calculating. I no longer think he is invested in making Clayton Valley Charter the best it can be for altruistic reasons; I think we are part of a grander plan to make him rich and powerful. I no longer think he is an honest person of character; I think he will step over and on anyone who gets in his way. I now work at a school where a once united staff is divided and unhappy as evidenced by the vote of no confidence and a few beloved teachers leaving mid-semester. I no longer think that things can be fixed and I am in favor of Mr. Linzey’s firing or preferably his resignation.
I debated with myself about writing this letter, it’s easier to stay quiet, but it doesn’t make me feel better about myself or who I present myself to be to my peers and my students. It’s getting harder and harder to stay quiet and maintain the illusion that there’s nothing wrong with our school to my students. I’m afraid that I will suffer retribution for speaking out and so I’m choosing to remain anonymous for now. My hope is that the community will speak out, act up, and demand that the board end the tyrannical reign of Dave Linzey and look to hire a leader who will re-unite all stakeholders in a common vision of transparency, inclusion, and devotion to the success of CVC students, and only CVC students. This is what we had before Dave Linzey showed up and this is what I am hoping can still happen for the good of all stakeholders.