What’s this sharp pain in my back? Part 2

June 8, 2006 at 9:55 pm (Teaching)

Warning: This is the second long-winded post in a three-part series complaining about work-related drama. Names have been changed (including mine), so that this doesn’t come and bite me in the ass some day. For those of you who don’t care to read that type of thing, I express my apologies, and in return for the hassle, check out this really good coupon for Joann’s.

When last I left, I had gathered as much information as I could, and decided that approaching Julia on my own was no longer an option. Things had spiraled out of control. Accusations of me being arrested were now involved, and I was done playing. I knew that Donna didn’t direct Julia to do anything. I knew that she was making up lies about me, and spreading them to other staff members. I emailed Donna that morning, and asked if there was a time I could meet with her.

Later that day, as I sat in Donna’s office, we discussed what I had learned. We both tried to come up with valid, explainable reasons why Julia, someone I had gotten along with so well, had decided to act the way she was. In the mean time, Donna emailed Kiki and got some details from her. When Donna asked me how I wanted to handle it, I told her that I wanted to confront Julia, and I wanted Donna there to mediate.

Julia was called up to Donna’s office, and she sat across the table at me. I looked at her and asked flat out, “What is going on?”

She began spinning this tale of lies. According to Julia, she somehow (and to this moment, I can’t see how) combined three separate conversations, mixed them up, and misunderstood them as a single instruction to track me.

1. Earlier that week, Julia had a meeting with Donna, where Julia was told to be sure that the staff was aware of the differences between Special Education, and Title One staff.

2. Julai asked a student of mine, “Jake”, when the last time he saw me was. Jake, disliking Julia with as much disdain as a 11 year old can muster, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know”. For you moms of teens out there – you know the look. When Julia persisted, he shouted at her, “I don’t know who Ms. Cordelia is!” Although this might seem a bit confusing, Jake has always referred to me as “Ms. C”, and to this day, probably doesn’t know my real last name.

3. Jake’s mother requested that her son be placed on a 504 plan. Since he was already on an IEP plan, this was not necessary.

So apparently, in Julia’s head, these three things dissolved themselves into a single instruction -have staff monitor my attendance and participation in classes.

But, this is where my confusion starts. Later on, she said that she was not instructed to monitor me. She said that someone had told her I wasn’t going to classes and servicing students. Instead of coming to me right away, she decided to investigate herself, and “spare me the pain”.

Donna let her know that in now way, shape, or form was she asked to do such a thing. And that Donna would never, ever handle a situation where she would have one staff member monitoring another in a case like she had been. Donna made it clear that if there was ever any questions about my work ethics, Julia was to go to me first. And that if Julia was ever approached by a staff member, a parent, or even a student about this type of concerned, they are to go to me first.

When I brought up the pressing-charges situation, Julia flatly denied every saying such a thing, and said that Kiki and Noelle were making it up purely to start drama. She told me that I shouldn’t trust them. I was done listening to her lies at this point, and decided to say something. I pushed the issue more, asking if there was something, some “seed” of information that she told my friends that could have gotten misunderstood, and morphed into the thought of me getting arrested, she said that there wasn’t. She insisted that my friends were telling me lies.

I let Julia know that I absolutely didn’t trust her after what she did, and that I would be far more likely to believe something that my friends of 5 years (Kiki and Noelle) than something coming out of the mouth of a person who spend the last few weeks scurrying behind my back.

There were still questions that went unanswered at the meeting, but I was done. I knew that nothing I could have asked, nothing I could have said, would get any iota of truth from Julia. I still don’t know why Julia specifically asked that Noelle not be told of my monitoring, when it was supposed to be getting done in Noelle’s class. I didn’t bring up the emailing-behind-my-back as I was sitting in her classroom. I still have no idea where this pressing-charges crapola came from. When Donna asked Julia if she had any complaints about my work ethic that needed to be addressed, Julia said no.

That was the last day I spent with Julia as anything but a co-worker. She was very upset as we left the room, and even hugged me as we left. Later that afternoon, I took my things from the office we shared, and moved them to an empty room. The friendly, joking emails between us stopped. No more lunches were shared. Our relationship turned from close friends to absolute professional in the span of 48 hours.

And so work went on, but things didn’t get better. In fact, it got worse.

Continued, in Part 3.

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