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DEVELOPING — Middle School Principal Resigns, Sends Email to Parents Blaming Superintendent

by ARLnow.com February 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm 10,310 318 Comments

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Williamsburg Middle School Principal Kathleen Francis says she will be resigning in March due to “the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent [Patrick] Murphy.”

In a lengthy email to parents, Francis detailed what she describes as a “long struggle” to resolve a personnel matter with Dr. Murphy. Francis said her efforts, which allegedly upset Dr. Murphy, resulted in “an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation.”

Francis defended her record and said she went so far as to file a discrimination complaint.

“The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints,” she said. “In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan.”

Francis concluded by insisting that she’s not alone in her displeasure with Dr. Murphy’s leadership.

“My situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident,” she wrote. “It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools.”

Dr. Murphy was appointed superintendent of Arlington Public Schools in April 2009. We are awaiting comment from the school system.

See the full letter after the jump.

Dear Parents and WMS Community,

Below for your information is an Open Letter to the Williamsburg Community that explains the reasons behind my decision to leave Arlington Public Schools in March.

Williamsburg Middle School

3600 North Harrison Street, Arlington, Virginia 22207 Phone: 703-228-5450

Email: [email protected]

Kathleen Francis, Principal

Open Letter to Williamsburg Middle School Community

February 1, 2011

Williamsburg is an outstanding school with wonderful students and a dedicated staff. I’m proud to have served as part of this community for 18 years and hopefully contributed to its educational excellence. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you I am resigning as Principal and will be leaving WMS in March. I do this recognizing the regrettable disruption this may create. However, it is unavoidable because of the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent Murphy for me and Arlington Public Schools.

At this point, it is unproductive to dwell on all the details of the difficult year long struggle that has precipitated this decision. However, since you may be impacted by this disruption, you deserve to know some of the reasons. In summary, Dr. Murphy, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hobbs acting at his direction, has engaged in an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation in the hopes of encouraging my departure from APS. These actions were taken in response to my fulfilling my responsibilities to ensure a safe learning environment at WMS and requesting that the Superintendent and Central Office take action on a longstanding and serious personnel situation at Williamsburg. That situation involved an individual with a well-documented, multiple year record of non-performance and who was extremely disruptive to the educational environment of the school. Dr. Murphy refused to act and made it clear that he was concerned about the “perceptions” around such actions and, therefore, did not want difficult personnel matters brought to the Central Office. Following his directive, I fully utilized the limited school-based tools at my disposal, but the situation worsened. When the individual’s behavior became more disruptive, I again requested that Dr. Murphy take action consistent with APS policies. The Superintendent refused to exercise his responsibilities and expressed displeasure at me for bringing it to his attention. Nonetheless, when the situation became a potential safety concern, in the interests of the students and staff, I was obliged to persist in requesting Central Office action. After many months, I finally prevailed and forced action. Although there was overwhelming documentation for removal, the individual was transferred to another school.

In my mind, this resolution should have been the end of the matter. However, as a direct result of my requesting Central Office action on this personnel matter, Superintendent Murphy’s attitude toward me and the WMS leadership team changed dramatically. He became adversarial and initiated steps designed to discredit the academic achievements at WMS, my professional performance and reputation, and force my removal from my position. Some of these actions constitute impermissible discrimination.

One act came in the form of an Unsatisfactory performance appraisal for the 2009-2010 school year despite my meeting all of the APS performance criteria. Prior to this incident, I had received Satisfactory performance evaluations from a range of supervisors and Superintendents for the entire three decades of my service to APS as a teacher and administrator. Nonetheless, in August, Dr. Murphy informed me that that the educational progress at WMS had suddenly become unacceptable and that my leadership of the school was unsatisfactory. In pertinent part, Dr. Murphy’s evaluation states that, Ms. Francis’ leadership has “not moved the school and the students to an overall higher level of performance.” I know we aren’t perfect at WMS, but I think we do darn well and are always striving for improvement. I know we aren’t “unsatisfactory.” Therefore, this allegation mischaracterizes the hard-earned performance of WMS students, insults the exceptional efforts of the WMS teachers and staff, and discounts the superior support of the WMS parents and community. I strongly objected to Dr. Murphy’s description of WMS performance and provided him with extensive evidence of superior student accomplishments; how all the requirements in my performance standards had been achieved; and, the documented success of WMS on the Standards of Learning tests. In fact, during the 2009-2010 school year, WMS’ achievements on the SOL tests were exceptional, and our initiatives produced the best improvement in student subpopulation performance and surpassed Dr. Murphy’s expectations of 4-year growth in only one year. Although he was unable to contradict the factual evidence, he said the Unsatisfactory performance appraisal would stand. I was advised that it would be best to just go along with his plans. He discussed his belief that the most important characteristic in his staff was personal loyalty to him and agreement with his desires, and that I had failed that standard in pushing for resolution of the personnel matter.

An Unsatisfactory rating is a precursor to a dismissal action. More broadly, I’m aware that such an attitude toward WMS by the Superintendent can adversely impact employee morale and school performance. Therefore, I formally requested reconsideration. As part of that request, I pointed out that schools with lower performance against the APS rating criteria had not been similarly adversely evaluated. Dr. Murphy responded that didn’t matter because he wasn’t bound by the written criteria and could use any basis he wanted for the rating. He dismissed my claim that ignoring the evidence constituted discrimination and made it clear that he was not interested in compromise, arbitration or re-establishing a collaborative working relationship. I told Dr. Murphy that to protect my professional reputation (and the reputation of the WMS staff and community) and future employment prospects, I was obligated to seek redress. However, I learned that, in violation of basic due process, School Board Policies allow no appeal to a neutral party for principals from such an unfair evaluation. This allows the Superintendent to utilize the performance appraisal process for professional bullying of subordinates while cloaked in anonymity.

Disappointed, I nonetheless focused my energy and attention on the responsibilities of running the largest middle school in Arlington County and complying with every request from the Superintendent. However, Dr. Murphy and Dr. Hobbs have made it clear to me they want me to retire despite my commitment to WMS and my plans to work longer to complete the excellent initiatives we have launched. Since September, I have been subjected to further baseless and demanding actions. These include requirements for excessive reporting and innumerable meetings to monitor my performance; violations of APS confidentiality policy by revealing personnel information to unauthorized parties; and discriminatory discussions of my hoped for premature retirement. The latter even included an announcement at a meeting of all APS leadership staff that Dr Hobbs and I had been discussing my retirement. Since I had previously informed both Dr. Murphy and Dr. Hobbs that I had no plans for retirement, this was an attempt to undermine my leadership effectiveness by making me appear to be a lame duck to my peers.

The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Council and the Arlington School Board. In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan. This would impose enormous additional micro-management of school activities and endless information generation on top of an already demanding work load.

I am confident that if I pursued these claims through the APS and federal procedural and litigation processes, I would prevail based on the facts. Yet, this could take years. I am willing to invest the effort in seeking justice and modeling persistence in defense of my personal reputation. However, my professional responsibilities to put the WMS students first will not allow me to let this unnecessary and corrosive situation to drag on indefinitely. Beyond the personal stress, it is a major distraction from our core educational purpose to have to constantly defend WMS to a Superintendent who should be aware of its outstanding achievements and educational environment. We have exciting initiatives at WMS that I hate to abandon. But, it is ultimately unproductive for the school to have a principal the Superintendent does not want and will not support.

I appreciate the support I have received during this difficult time from my colleagues. On their behalf, I must note that my situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident. It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools. In conversations with my school-based and Central Office colleagues, it is clear there is a widespread concern in Dr. Murphy’s leadership. In his short tenure, he has created an environment of distrust between himself and many of the leadership staff. Rather than building a spirit of teamwork in pursuit of further educational excellence, he has created a divisive and blame-seeking environment. Some of these outstanding educators are dispirited; others are angry; some have been cowed into silence. Unfortunately, a number of individuals are considering premature retirement or are seeking employment opportunities outside the system. Some have already departed because they didn’t wish to work in an environment where they are neither valued nor supported. This is not a case of legitimate professional disagreements on APS direction, means and priorities. While it is hoped that a Superintendent would sincerely seek the input and experience of the leaders on important educational matters, it is the prerogative of the School Board’s appointee to set his own course and for the career staff to try and implement it. Rather, this unfortunate situation is the result of his treatment of those who work for him and disrespect for the opinions of others. It reflects his belief that any disagreement with his ideas is not acceptable professional discourse, but rather personal disloyalty. I have not seen a comparably hostile atmosphere in my three decades of service to Arlington Public Schools. It is contrary to the professional and collaborative approach that has made APS one of the top school systems in the country. I am not alone in this opinion.

In conclusion, I wish to thank you for your personal support during my tenure at WMS. It is gratifying and appreciated. More importantly, thank you for your contributions to the Williamsburg educational community. Our students have benefitted enormously. I will miss you all. You have my best wishes and will be in my prayers.

  • parent

    This was one of the craziest emails I’ve ever received. I can only imagine what brought her to do this, and I’m sorry so many people are hurt by it. Having had children at this school, however, I have to say her leadership style left me cold. Several teachers left under strange circumstances while the school obsessed on issues such as unequal application of the dress code.

    • coco

      +1000

    • Stanley

      Another +1000. Dont let the door hit you on the way out!

      • Arl Rat

        Having experienced her BS and racist remarks (fist hand), I’m glad she’s on her way out!

    • Concerned Citizen

      With respect to the matter at hand, I don’t know who is right or wrong. Ms. Francis has every right to disclose the matter as she wishes. Personally, I don’t agree with the venue or timing, but that is her choice. Mr. Murphy has every right to refrain from disclosing too much or anything. However, I too wish to learn more from him. Whenever there is a legal matter involved it is best served to let the issues get sorted out in due course. I am hopeful that regardless of the outcome, APS will still remain as top notch school system. No system in perfect, but continued involvement from parents, students, faculty, staff, PTA, administrators, and the community at large will enable APS to thrive into the foreseeable future.

  • Robert

    Very weird.

  • Maybe he can fire her now cos she mentioned she prays.

  • Rick

    She was a horses ass when I went to Williamsburg way back when and it doesn’t sound like much has changed. Get out.

    • student

      f you rick. she was a nice lady.

      • Rick

        potty mouth

  • And no love for my correction.

    • Thanks for the typo heads up

    • G::NativeArlingtonian

      Ego much?

  • Bluemont John

    Anyone have any facts they can share on the unnamed “disruptive” faculty member–what he/she did and why disciplining that person would (according to Murphy) leave a negative perception? I have no connection to her or the school (or Murphy) whatsoever, and I’m curious to know what the basis of her claims is.

    • Lou

      Yeah really. Make with the details, someone.

      I bet it as Mr. Duke.

      • Skeptical

        Duke? Could there possibly still be a Duke on staff at Williamsburg?

        When I was there in 1967, there sure as hell was and he hated kids — even his colleagues said so.To us. But, uh, that was a while back.

        • Lou

          He was still there in the 80’s too. Maybe it was the ghost of Mr. Duke that was the troublemaker.

    • Hilsea

      I believe the person fired was Dr Wentzel, former Ass. Principle

      • mehoo

        Interesting abbreviation.

      • moreStuff

        No, not Dr. Wentzel. That just happened and Ms. Francis is talking about something that happened last year.

  • NorthAdams

    this is what happens when a Gym Teacher becomes Superintendent.

    • I’m for students

      Amen.

    • mehoo

      You owe him 20 pushups, now!

  • Use the snow Luke

    Horrible. True or not. This is not what we want to be reading about our schools and admin. I have no kids (yet) but plan to in the near term. This is birth control for sure. At least she wasn’t too public about it though (cough). I hope everyone can come to some peace on this and something positive comes from it.

  • teacher

    i support principal francis 100%…only APS employees really know what goes on behind closed doors… parents, students and community members can only speculate.. APS is headed downhill, and i anticipate many other “early” retirements… its a shame and disgrace to the county…

    • I’m for students

      I think most APS staff has become very worried since Rob Smith left.

      • Puzzled

        I’ve never seen any leadership transition where everyone held hands with the “new guy” and moved on easily. The transition from Gosling to Smith was difficult, too, and a lot of folks left Arlington in the late 90s because they didn’t like or agree with Smith, either. But at least those folks left or retired with a lot more class and dignity than Francishas done. How do her actions help kids or the school. Seems like a petty and self-centered exit!

  • BibleLover

    She quit because of her disagreement with Dr. Murphy over the transfer of Dr. Wentzel, who was only moved to another school instead of being fired like she wanted.

  • student

    I am no longer going to Williamsburg Middle School, but after attending there for three years I’m not sad to hear that Mrs. Francis is leaving. As somebody mentioned earlier, they had their priorities mixed up. It was very obvious that Mrs. Francis and a few other staff members were worrying more about the dresscode than the students themselves.

  • ImpressedParent

    Nice to see someone call out Pat Murphy for the first-class jerk that he is. He was that way in Fairfax County!

    • teach

      And Winchester.

  • Parent 2

    I had two children attend WMS. It was run like a military camp -rigid and no joy.Several of the teachers were downright awful. One of my children is scarred for life because of a teacher that taught there! I was dismissed by administration when I complained about this teacher and made to feel like I was the crazy person!

    • Jim

      We found WMS a disappointing snake pit, and Ms. Francis a negative influence, mediocre and self-impressed. After our first son attended WMS and we observed matters, we tracked our second son to another middle school.

      • wms student class of 2009

        these comments are SERIOUSLY overexaggerated…i encountered all of the teachers at WMS and none of them had the potential for “scarring anyone for life”. ms francis was a great principal and i’m disappointed to see her go.

    • student of wms class of 2007

      Try going to a Catholic school… Ms. Francis is a great principal….

  • formerWMSparent

    I applaud Dr. Murphy. It’s about time Mrs.F was put in her place. What goes around comes around.

  • UhOh

    Williamsburg is our neighborhood school. My daughter is very much into the arts and we had heard so many negatives about WMS that when she expressed the desire to go to Kenmore, we were okay with it. Now our son is about to graduate elementary and we have to make the decision about WMS once gain. Ironic, but we just got the HB waitlisted letter today. He doesn’t want to go to Kenmore. WMS has a bad rep-several neighborhood kids expressed how mean-spirited and joyless it is. Now this very intriguing email from the Principal…this can’t be a good environment if there is this much discord amongst the staff…YIKES!

    • Recent HB Woodlawn Grad

      Speak up! By the time your son gets off the wait-list (it’s more common than you think), Dr. Murphy will have turned HB into just another school.

  • Current WMS parrent

    Actually, I have only had favorable impressions of Ms. Francis. Unlike our elementary principal, she actually shows up for things and is at the front door in the morning and afternoon. Just recently, she was in the street helping direct traffic. If she hadn’t, it would have been a lot more chaotic that morning and busses and kids late to school. I don’t have first hand experience with her as an administrator. However, I have always found her personable and caring. A stark constrast to another principal we know. Our WMS experience has been favorable overall. Our child would never think of changing!

    • another WMS parent

      +1

    • yet another WMS Parent

      agreed, she was always out there directing traffic! Show me another principal that would do that!

      • mehoo

        Our elementary principal did that.

      • Pedro

        Actually the principal at Swanson also does traffic duty.

        • Ray

          The Taylor principal directs traffic every day.

      • Burger

        I’d be pretty concerned about the staff at the school if my principle of the middle school felt it was her obligation to direct traffic when there are inherently more important aspects of her job that she could delegate that responsibility to someone else. Either the staff isn’t very good or manages her time poorly.

        • ArlTeacher

          If I were you, I would be more concerned about the way the parents drive in the morning and afternoon while dropping off and picking up students!!! At my school – ALL administrators take turns helping to direct the traffic flow.

      • CR

        our school principal does too. but let me get this straight, is that what makes a good principal? is that the job description?

    • Arl Rat

      because she micromanages everything!

    • WMS parent

      Some of the comments about Mrs. Francis are downright obnoxious given that none of us knows the whole truth. I am neutral on Francis and WMS – not thrilled about anything there – but if she was trying to get rid of an employee who was a danger to our children, we ought to applaud her. As for the dress code, again, those of you with daughters should be thanking her.

    • DC

      Six years of seeing Kathy “occasionally” direct traffic in the mornings at Wmsburg – interesting to note that it usually happened to coincide with a APS or Washington Post photographer nearby — don’t be fooled — it was a publicity stunt…

  • Anon

    If she’s inclined to write a letter like that, all I can say is good riddance. Now…if only the principal of Kenmore would resign….

  • Student

    I went to williamsburg last year and although mrs. francis and dr. wentzel went a little physco on dress code doesn’t mean they didn’t care about their students. Williamsburg wasn’t perfect, but it definitely was not a bad school, and i was well prepared going into Yorktown. all you parents need to chill- you didnt go there and probabley the only reason your kid didnt like it was because they got bad grades.

    • OHHAY

      agreeed.

    • former student

      Untrue, I unfortunately had to spend 3 years at wms, and got all A’s, and still thought it was awful, authoritarian prison, that cared more about SOL’s then actual learning

  • Student

    oh and another thing- mrs. francis has every right to defend her reputation. she was a good principal.

  • poop hehe

    just because the teachers sucked butt doesnt mean ms. f did…….she was actually nice

  • parent

    arlington needs to get off their high horse of saying they are top gifted county in virginia . start by getting rid of principals and teachers who think they are better than others..put the backyard parents who gossip in their place, and just focus on our kids being in school and staying there and not dropping out..

    • student

      by principal are you referring to ms. francis?

  • Former WMS student

    I was a WMS student in the 90s. The school overall wasn’t terrible, and I had some great teachers, but the administration was horrible. I remember Ms. Francis being especially difficult. She was happy to nab me for dress code violations, but when I actually needed help from her…. nothing.

    • student

      um that was 10+ years ago…how the heck do you even remember?! and thats when she was just starting out. cut her some slack i went there LAST YEAR.

      • Bluemont John

        Ok, Student, give us the lowdown! What happened? Who’s the teacher/staffer she had the beef with? And what did they do that disrupted classes?

        • student

          um i dont know i dont go there anymore im at yorktown. its really annoying when parents insult a school when you didnt even go there. your child did, not you. ms francis was polite and caring. she always made efforts to stop bullying, which i always respected. your child may have been unhappy with the teachers or the grading, but please dont blame that on ms. francis.

          • BoredHouseWife

            If the parents didn’t care, they wouldn’t complain.

          • student

            when the hell did i say that parents dont care. i said they didnt go to the school and therefore did not have firsthand experiencce.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Your comprehension and grammar skills are exactly why parents are complaining.

          • Remember the Nook

            Classless, BHW.

          • mehoo

            Now your posts have to be absolutely perfect, BHW.

          • Arl Rat

            I’m sure you are one with the majority at that school. Life is different for those at the bottom of the totem pole.

          • Recent WMS Parent

            BHW an others: Shutting down Student with personal attack on grammar is not a response to the substantive issues she/he raises; it merely distracts. It is also disrespectful.

  • Stanley

    We have been in the Arlington Public School system for more than a decade. Our experience in APS has been FABULOUS! Everything about everything has been great.

    Except. Except for Williamsburg and Francis. It is clearly the backwater of APS. Go in the school and look. You will read signs that declare RESPECT YOUR TEACHERS!!!! At a different middle school in arlington you will see a different sign that says “Respect is something that is earned.” At Williamsburg I regularly witnessed teachers taking punitive actions against children just cause the kid was the closest to them in the hallway; at other middle schools I see teachers celebrating the kids. At williamsburg the staff cants seem to get out of the building fast enough. At other middle schools the staff is there late into the afternoon and evening. AT williamsburg the environment is oppressive. At other schools is celebrative.

    Williamsburg is a black hole is the great APS system. Its good to see francis go.

    • student

      hey guess what did you GO THERE? umm probabley not. not saying i loved williamsburg but you have no right to insult it based on a POSTER. come on…ms. francis was always in the hall, always in the front of the building in the morning saying hello. Always at school events. you didnt go there, so please refrain from saying mean things aboutt a lady you probs never came in contact with. thats redic

      • Lou

        Is it Ms. or Mrs. Francis? Also, just capitalize your sentences, even if you’re trying to look like a student.

        • student

          um excuse me grammar queen but i am a student…i am in 9th grade at yhs and im a girlll. i have ms. eiserman for english and ms. dye for geometry. suck on that

          • Burger

            You might want to pay more attention in English class then.

      • BoredHouseWife

        If my taxes pay for the school then I have every right to criticize it.

        • +1

        • Bluemont John

          You need a comma after that introductory dependent clause, BHW.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Doh! But then again, I am not defending my alma mater.

          • mehoo

            Too late, BHW.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Are you going to follow my posts and criticize my grammar?
            If you are a student defending your former school by replying to anyone who has a complaint of said school, then, you should know the difference between your and you’re. One should also comprehend what one reads instead of replying to the first three words. It is an insult to the very education that one defends.

          • mehoo

            I’m just messin’ with you.

          • Recent HB Grad

            According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s D’oh.

        • Josh S

          Well, sure – I can criticize the way NASA builds rockets, but since I don’t work at NASA and I don’t know anything about rocket building, my criticism may not hold much weight.

  • Parent 2

    My kids got excellent grades. I still say it was an awful experience.

    • student

      um you didnt go there. that may be true with the teachers but ms. francis was a nice lady and you have no right to insult her just because the school sucked ass. she was very supportive and cared a lot about respect and caring for others. i myself did not particulary enjoy the dress code rules last year when i went there but I GOT OVER IT. doesnt make it a bad school.

      • BoredHouseWife

        Can you please attempt to care about your grammar?
        Oh wait, I get it. You are a troll.
        9/10

        • student

          wtf you are a PARENT. holy crap who the heck uses the word troll?! what kind of adult are you?! jeez grrow up sorry i dont spend 500 hours trying to make my grammar perfect because i actually HAVE STUFF TO DO

          • Recent HB Grad

            No you don’t. Stop pretending you’re important.

          • Recent HB Grad 2

            +1

          • mehoo

            Stuff to do – like studying for your grammar test?

            Sorry, too easy.

        • Remember the Nook

          Even more classlessness.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Pointing out irony is classless?

          • Salvation Road

            I’d say picking on a middle school student and proving your superiority is indeed classless. In fact, it also screams of internal insecurity.

          • BoredHouseWife

            I bet that the student will think twice on whether to use “they’re” or “their”.

        • Former WMS student

          Do you have NOTHING better to do than pick on a 9th grader? Oh, I guess you don’t, hence your screen name “Bored Housewife.” For the record, this is an entirely different person, but I also graduated from Williamsburg a couple years ago. My impression of Ms Francis was that she was a good principal. She doesn’t deserve all the judgmental, gossipy comments you self-righteous parents are making about her.

  • student

    if it was such a BAD experience, why did u keep ur kids there???

    • student#2

      exactly. parents think they know everything. pisses me off like no other.

    • mehoo

      It’s not that easy to just switch out of a neighborhood school.

  • student#2

    amen. all these parents know nothing

    • Burger

      Ah, the wisdom of a 14 year old, who thinks he/she knows everything.

  • I’m for students

    The principal has left. The Superintendent has not. Ms. Francis’ comments about leadership, or lack thereof, still stand, and should be addressed.

  • Katie

    No idea or opinion, as I have little to do with the county’s school system other than paying taxes.

    But my first thought looking at that photo was “what an awful shirt or whatever it is” so I find the dress code obsession comments very funny. Isn’t it always the people with a poor sense of style who obsess over that cr-p?

    • student#2

      ms. francis is a pretty lady. you make no sense……they didnt like when girls buttcheeks hungout as they walked down the hall. they went a little insane at the end of the year but not because they had bad clothes. for christs sake they are like 40 years old give em a break they have to deal with bratty pre teens all day

      • Katie

        “Like 40” hahaha. No, honey, I’m like 40. Ms. F is a fair bit older than that. And yes a pretty lady! But in a bad, bad shirt.

    • Lou

      That is so true. Somebody else mentioned birth control above and I started thinking about that blouse she’s wearing.

      • student#2

        your a mean person

        • BoredHouseWife

          This has to be a troll.
          /face palm

          • student

            what kind of parent uses the word troll…get a life. im a teen so im allowed to be wasting time on the internet but you obviously have nothing better to do than criticize a woman you dont even know. get out cause your the troll.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Let me clarify. You post in the forum to defend the principal and the middle school you attended. Most forgive capitalization or some misspellings since the internet is informal. But, there is no excuse for your grammar. You’re not a shining example of your education.

          • student

            sorry but i bet i got better grades then you when you were in middle/high school. seriously im not trying to impress you but im not gna allow you to talk bad about a lady you dont know. williamsburg might have not been perfect, but i was well prepared for high school. i made great friends there, and i learned a lot.

          • Remember the Nook

            Beyond lack of class now. Just a bit*h.

          • Bluemont John

            Whoa, BHW! I’m OK with starting a sentence with a conjunction, but no way should there be a comma after “But.” “But” is a conjunction and not an adverb like “however.” Hang your head in shame!

            Kids are lazy. This is how they talk to each other when the text (with the commendable exception of the H-B Woodlawn kids posting here). Once they get into the workforce, they’ll realize no one writes like that. In the meantime, you only look petty and mean by picking on middle-school kids for their writing.

          • BoredHouseWife

            Actually, BMJ, a comma can denote a pause.

          • Let’sBeCandid

            If you knew anything about commas you would know that “indicating a pause” is something they tell elementary school students who aren’t old enough to have the actual rules explained to them.

    • NewsyMom

      +1

  • Scrappergirl

    The “school-based and central office colleagues” that have similar concerns probably need the same hard push. I say good riddance and “bravo” to Murphy. Keep it up and good riddance to Francis! She was awful

    • studentgrad.2009

      you dont know what your talking about

  • Parent

    Uhhh… does she really think she’s going to be at WMS through March after this doozie?

    • studentgrad.2009

      um you honestly believe that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself? thats ridiculous. he obviously has made a mockery of her and she can’t defend herself? i would think about that again

      • Parent

        She could be 100% in the right, but lost all credibility sending out that letter.

        • BoredHouseWife

          To play devil’s advocate: She did this to force it publicly because she feels that she is being treated unfairly. She may have tried in vain to address the issue through “appropriate” channels.

          • student

            and exactly how is this inapropriate?! she is telling the people who need to hear it the most….parents. if you were in this position i bet you wouldnt be speaking as you are now.

          • Parent

            Student: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m talking to BHW.

          • Parent

            I appreciate what you’re saying, but do you honestly think this is going to help her cause? There is no way she thought this through before clicking send.

          • student

            um really because this email seemed pretty planned out to me. i think this was the perfect way to get her concerns accross because she is addressing the people who need to hear it the most..which is to the parents of the children that go/went to williamsburg. how else was she supposed to defend her self if not everyone in arlington got a direct message from her?

          • BoredHouseWife

            I completely see your point of view. I am just playing devil’s advocate.

          • student

            this isnt a debate and that really isnt necessary…why dont you just state your side of view instead of calling me a troll like a 12 year old wanna be hipster.?

          • mehoo

            Because she’s a bored house wife. Duh.

          • She probably wishes she waited 24 hours before sending this out.

    • WheresTheBeef

      She didn’t last Groundhog day…..what is the over/under on when Murph is gone?

  • Harassed

    Thank you to Ms. Francis for having the guts to tell the truth about this superintendent. He’s a bully who doesn’t even try to build relationships with staff. I hope the board takes this letter seriously because Murphy needs to GO!

  • CrankyMom

    I have one child at Williamsburg and one that recently graduated. We had a terrific experience at Williamsburg, and mine aren’t easy kids. I think some here are responding to an undeserved reputation. Ms Williams responded quickly to bullying complaints and was a frequent, smiling, courteous presence in the hallway. I know nothing of the internal politics that generated this complaint, but after dealing with other principles in and out of Arlington, I have nothing but praise for her.

  • charlie

    since when do our schools have a dress code? Other than basics? help me out.

    • CrankyMom

      The dress code is needed because the current style calls for girls to dress like hookers and boys to wear their pants around their knees. The dress code covers things like not showing underwear, butt cheeks or midriffs. Williamsburg sent out a very playful “what not to wear” brochure last fall that was awfully cute. I think the person who Miss Francis wanted dismissed may be the one who went overboard on a lot of these things though.

      • Recent HB Woodlawn Grad

        I went to a school without a dress code. Your argument is invalid.

        • CrankyMom

          Which argument? I was just stating what the issue was at Williamsburg. Maybe they didn’t have the problem at HB when you were there, but I had two kids at Williamsburg last year, and it seemed that a large proportion of students had a strange idea of appropriate dress.

          • student

            Well for HB, I can assure you, there is no problem with the dress code (and lack of) there. Students everywhere are probably going to do and act the way they want, and a restriction on clothing isn’t really going to stop the. I think in general, it’s not the students and their behaviors that are changing, it is the way they are treated.

        • mehoo

          No, your school had a dress code. It may not have been written down, but you can bet that if you showed up in nothing but a thong, you’d find out there was indeed a dress code. Don’t pretend like there are no standards of dress.

          • Recent HB Grad 2

            No shit! If you showed up anywhere in just a thong, you’d most likely get arrested for indecent exposure.

          • Recent HB Grad

            Something did happen when I did show up in nothing but one piece of undergarment: Everyone laughed and I went home with a lot of new underwear-clad friends.

            Then again, I also had a cape part of the time, but that was a personal touch.

    • KMS Mom

      My daughter is a 6th grader at Kenmore and we too have a basic dress code. Things like no short shorts, no midriff tops, no tank tops, etc. Nothing oppressive – just enforcing appropriate dress for school. Styles today have young girls dressing like little hookers, so in some cases the dress code was needed! I hear that if you’re not dressed appropriately, they make you wear your gym clothes all day. If that doesn’t help enforce the dress code, nothing will!

      • James

        They do indeed make you wear gym clothes all day if you come dressed inappropriately. I went to Kenmore for 6th grade in 1999-2000 and Thomas Jefferson for 7 and 8th grade the following two years. I can’t remember Kenmore that much, but they sure did at Thomas Jefferson even 10 or 11 years ago and clothing styles have only gotten that much more downhill. One can replace downhill with other words that have been said by other users, I’d just rather not use them myself as we are talking about 11-14 year olds here.

        I myself had to wear gym clothes several times, but that was because I was (and still am) quite poor and didn’t have many clothes and the ones I did often had holes in them. I sometimes got jealous of kids who forced to wear gym clothes because of their boxers showing and whatnot and would wish that I had least clothes without holes in them.

      • Tona

        Where are the parents? Aren’t they supposed to make sure their child go to school well dressed?

  • Student

    I’m now a high school junior at HB, I went to Williamsburg two and half years ago. Let me tell you, the reason I applied to HB after middle school was because I wanted the exact opposite experience I had at Williamsburg. Ms. Francis was actually a nice woman, and definitely the least of my worries while I was in middle school. The problem with Williamsburg was the administration, and certainly some of the teachers were problematic as well. I applaud Ms. Francis for attempting to remove (allegedly) Ms. Wentzel, because she was the most incompetent, mean woman I have experienced in the APS school system. She was the bane of my existence. I recall a moment in seventh grade where I walked down the stairs to the cafeteria on the wrong side, and Ms. Wentzel made me go back up the stairs and walk down again. I’m very impressed with the letter Ms. Francis wrote, because it is contrary to the culture of Williamsburg (and APS schools in general): everything is hushed up. Some may view this as unprofessional, but I honestly don’t care; Ms. Francis’ commentary on the “divisive and blame-seeking environment” created by Dr. Murphy is the honest truth. It needed to be said. I’m really glad this article is out there for everyone to see.

    • OK! go hammmm!

      • BURR

        LOL im guessing this is gassama

      • something

        lessssgoooo beaumont!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Student

      I, also, was a student at Williamsburg two and a half years ago, and now go to H-B. I have to say, my time at Williamsburg was miserable, I absolutely despised it. Yet I don’t believe that the cause of my misery was the administration at WMS. Instead, I think I was unhappy because I was a middle-schooler who was bad at socializing and, like most middle-schoolers, hated school. From what I can tell, middle-schoolers everywhere hate school, noma tter what the school is like. My unhappiness had nothing to do with Ms. Francis. Admittedly, I had no one-on-one interaction with her, but I don’t remember her being anything other than a kind woman who was always present. In general, I found the school to be satisfactory, though by no means perfect. If I remember correctly, I found there to be too much emphasis on SAT scores and not enough on individuality and interesting learning. Particularly what I found frustrating was the inability to take a language and an elective. Instead students were forced to take enrichment in 7th grade and Reading in 6th grade. This was the only part of the way WMS was run that I found unacceptable, as I view both languages and the arts as an integral part of education. Still, my impression of the staff at WMS was favorable as a whole, despite a few teachers I thought were incompetent. It seemed to me that, despite the size of the school, and except for my previous complaint, the school functioned well. Yet, I also experienced no other middle schools to compare WMS with, and have difficulty remembering the whole of my experience there clearly. In responce to earlier comments, I agree with the teachers that only they could possibly know what happens in APS. The arguing between parents and students I found incredibly unprofessional. I would expect better from Arlington parents, and hope for better from students. Just because these posts are anonymous does not justify the insulting that has been going on.

      • Bluemont John

        Off topic here, but I think the H-B Woodlawn students deserve some major credit for their writing abilities as shown here. Seriously: This is better self-expression than half the kids in college these days–or most adults, actually. Makes me wanna send my kid to H-B!

        I assume that the other students posting here know how to capitalize and punctuate but don’t think it’s worth the trouble; I can tell you that bothering to do both gives a lot more credence to what you have to say. (That said, chiding posters for failing to do so is pointless.)

        • cj

          +10. It’s also refreshing to see posts that are not from the usual suspects and bring new perspectives instead of the same old same old.

        • Josh S

          Well said.

    • Just the Facts

      OMG! She made you walk back up the stairs AND then back down on the correct side?!? Why didn’t you file a complaint for abusive treatment?

      What kind of over-privileged, prissy kids are we raising?

      • Lou

        I would take a lot of the “student” accounts in this thread with a shaker of salt.

        • Katie

          Oh yea.

      • Student

        Wow. I’d just like to say that my anecdote about the stairs was just one example of many of the absurdities that went on at Williamsburg. I did not in any way assert that I was abused. It’s malicious and rude to call someone “prissy.” I’m appalled by the lack of respect people have for each other on this thread. Next time I post here, I certainly won’t be doing it as “student,” because nobody seems to take the opinions of anyone under 35 seriously.

        • Just the Facts

          YOU described a WMS administrator as “incompetent”, “mean” and the “bane of [your] existence,” and the ONLY example you gave to back that language up was that she made you go back up the wrong staircase and come back down the right one.

          In the future, when trying to make a point, I recommend you choose the strongest example of that point instead of an absolutely absurd one.

          • Student

            Would you have preferred me to compile a list of the wrongdoings committed by the Williamsburg administration? That’s not the point of this thread. I was merely trying to get my point across, forgive me if I didn’t spend hours going over examples of wrongdoings in my head and painstakingly perfecting my argument. I still don’t see how my perceived lack of argumentative skills gives you the right to call me “over-privileged” and “prissy.”

      • Recent HB Grad

        I know, right? And I have no idea why the teachers are so lenient these days. What happened to paddling kids? And for that matter, don’t they know Korematsu v. The United States hasn’t been overturned? I think we should remind them every day how lucky they are that we aren’t throwing them into Abu Ghraib, even though we could if we wanted to.

        I mean seriously? How dare they demand things like respect and rational policy from their authority? If it were up to me, all of these short, little entitled brats who dare think of themselves as people would be strapped to a bed, smacked in the face, and shot. That’ll show them some discipline.

  • APS grad, now teacher

    Patrick Murphy is a mess and needs to go. I’m sorry to see an experienced administrator leave, but hope this will bring attention to the MAJOR issues in central office.

  • Big Game

    I say they close all the Arlington Public Schools.
    Then I can make beats alllllll day lmaoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    • Eli Porter

      LOL JAIME

      • Jaime

        that wasn’t me

  • teacher

    she could have lost credibility sending out that email, but as a teacher in a similar elem school, this is the real stuff us teachers and admin have to deal with behind closed doors. im seriously looking into other counties now since murphy took over

  • williamsburg parent

    I have read the resignation letter several times. As long and drawn-out as it is, I never see her present any evidence or indication of sex discrimination or age discrimination. Can someone shed some light onto these charges? Thank you.

    • CMG

      I don’t know about the sex discrimination, but the age discrimination would probably refer to what many people in the field of education are experiencing right now. It is a whole lot cheaper to pay a young teacher/administrator because of the way the pay-scale steps work in most public school systems. Therefore, it is expensive to keep older staff who may be “near retirement anyway” and the school systems will try to push them out or, in slightly less passive-aggressive school systems, they’ll create early-retirement incentives. It sounds like the may be citing a push-them-out case.

      • Good. Push out the older, expensive admins. Who needs em?

        • Recent HB Woodlawn Grad

          The people who benefit from them. Like HB.

        • mehoo

          You’re joking, right?

          • Burger

            If they are losing their effectiveness as a teacher…yes.

          • mehoo

            Well, of course. If ANY teacher or administrator, young or old, is losing effectiveness, you might get rid of them. But that’s not what he said, is it?

          • HB student

            Age and effectiveness don’t always go hand-in-hand. Some of my favorite teachers are/were crazy old, but they were great. (I <3 Elly K.)

  • teacher

    i agree with APS grad… there are major issues in the county. i hope this opens some eyes for everyone working for APS. we shouldnt be bullied or savaged, and we should be able to speak our minds without repercussions.

    • Not the Boss

      In what world do you live in where someone can freely speak their mind about their boss, when it is not praising the boss, and expect there to be no repersussions? There is not a work field in the world where this happens.

      • Recent HB Woodlawn Grad

        I can say with confidence that I have not gotten anywhere in my business or artistic or academic life without directly telling my superiors that they’re full of it. And yes, I have gotten repercussions. Hell, I was even committed. But I ended up making more of an impact on my school and environment than anyone who subscribes to your ideal of the obedient worker. Maybe I’m charismatic, but I highly doubt that. I don’t know Mrs. Francis’ track record, but I applaud her for going against Dr. Murphy.

  • teacher

    come on guys, you are getting off track. this is not an argument between parents and students. let’s stay relevant to the topic

    • student

      im sorry but some parents have no idea what they are talking about. why would you try and disagree with someone who experienced williamsburg first hand?

      • Rick

        you disagreed with me and I went there…

  • BoredHouseWife

    what is exactly going on? What is being said to the teachers? I am clueless.

  • teacher

    Not the Boss..clearly you are not a teacher and don’t understand what i’m talking about. i know my coworkers will.

  • Former Student

    As a former student of WMS (not way back when, relatively recently), all I can say is that Williamsburg was the biggest waste of three years in my life. I got very good grades, but still learned close to nothing. There were a few outstanding teachers there when I went, but the majority of them, for the lack of a better word, sucked. The administration, however, was even worse. Every single admin officer during the time – Wentzel, Russo, Francis – was mean, inconsiderate, and just plain unreasonable. It was as if they were there to get kids in trouble, even for harmless things that adolescent kids do by nature. The dress code was not as big of an issue when I was there, but the admin was just out to get you. They were quite ‘unsatisfactory’, the teachers were unsatisfactory (most of them), and the school flat out sucked. Don’t send your kids there if they want to have an enjoyable middle school experience. Every day I was released at 2:24 was like getting released from jail.

    • student

      thats really sad, obviously you didnt have fun friends! i had a ball being a trouble maker.

      • Former Student

        I had plenty of fun friends…but you really couldn’t have much fun at WMS without being sent to ISAP by the Principals every month…

        • SS

          my kids had a horrible experience there too. However, I think Ms. Francis was a good principal, most of the teachers sucked!!!! and so does Dr. Murphy… He is a spin-less jellyfish….

      • +1

        🙂

    • former student

      I can’t even begin to express how much I agree with you

  • JamesE

    I choose…. Business Ethics.

    • Rick

      +1

    • Rick

      I would have gone with My Wife, The Tramp

      • CMG

        Solid Billy Madison reference! High five.

        • CMG

          I meant for that to be a reply to Rick. Oops

    • Erin

      +1

  • Bender

    Sorry to tell those of you who are currently students — this kind of absurd, over-dramatic, soap opera nonsense goes on everywhere throughout the educational system. From grade school to middle school to high school to college to graduate school, they are all filled with people who like to throw their weight around or otherwise live in this fantasy land totally insulated from the real world.

    Don’t get me wrong — learning is crucial to individual success. But too much of what happens in schools is completely foreign or even detrimental to actual learning, especially the public schools. Accordingly, one of the happiest days of your life will be the day you walk out of that place for the last time.

    • Bender

      Just to clarify — I did not attend Arlington schools. The only time I’ve ever set foot in an Arlington school is to vote.

      Instead, I attended school elsewhere — about 21 years worth of schooling. But it was well recognized way back then how oppressive the educational environment was (at least it was recognized in the popular culture, e.g. Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper).

      • Recent HB Grad 2

        It is quite obvious that you (or your apparent role models on the subject) have never attended an Arlington Public School. It seems quite sad that your views, on the APS system, are such. Maybe if you had attended one, you would realize how sad and uncommon it is to outright hate your school, be it elementary, middle, or high school. Some of the best memories that I have are from my time in the APS system. As it is, I pity you.

        • Bender

          Thanks for the pity, HB Grad. But when that disillusionment of real life stings you, don’t say you weren’t warned.

          • Recent HB Grad 2

            I appreciate your warning, but a little bit too late. However, it was because of the education that I received from the APS system, that I was able to affectively deal with the “disillusionment” without getting stung too bad.

          • Recent HB Grad

            How would you define disillusionment?

            I’m a schizophrenic rape victim who is permanently crippled because his arm was snapped in half in 7th grade by a fellow student at Gunston ( after which I got in trouble for disrupting the class— apparently I screamed too loudly.) I’m the co-owner owner of a company that was fairly successful for about a year but is sinking fast, I’m possibly going to have to drop out before I finish my freshman year of college because my parents can’t decide if they’re more afraid of the shootings down the street from my dorm that happen on a tri-weekly basis or the fact that I am developing syncope/possibly seizure disorder. Oh, and I’m technically middle-aged. The form of schizophrenia, as it turns out, has a life expectancy of 40. And yet, I’m managing all of these things rather fine, because HB taught me that life is livable; that I do, in fact, have the power to change my situation anywhere I go.

  • Concerned

    This resignation letter expresses the concerns of many APS staff members including teachers and administrators when it comes Dr. Murphy’s performance in APS. Whenever there is a change in leadership, it is uncomfortable. However, APS is in a constant state of panic and stress right now. This is due in large part to the actions of the Superintendent. Many teachers and administrators can and will be retiring due to this new leadership. I would not be surprised if his senior staff has its own set of retirements. APS is not headed in a good direction under Dr. Murphy’s leadership. If Arlington parents are happy with their current teachers and administrators, they should speak up because many are looking elsewhere. I just hope the actions and decisions made by Dr. Murphy do not ruin the reputation that Arlington has made for itself. Thank you Mrs. Francis for expressing the concerns to many of us have for the children and staff of Arlington Public Schools.

    • Burger

      Would resignations be good on some level? There is high unemployment throughout this country so having to not shell out for overpaid teachers would be a good thing.

      Everyone thinks they are indespensible (sic) to what ever organization they belong to or work for. Very rarely is that true at the grunt level.

      • I’m for students

        Burger, what data do you have that supports your statement that there is high unemployment in Arlington County, and what does that unsubstantiated statement have to do with anything, especially the implied needed firing of instructional staff? Murphy is a problem for APS, and every teacher knows it. The Schol Boaed blew it when they awarded him the job.

        • I’m for students

          “Board” (typo)

  • Teacher

    Perhaps in Intensified English, you missed the lesson about choosing the right writing style for the circumstances. If you want to be heard and respected in a conversation with adults, speak in a manner that commands attention, in this case, using correct grammar and spelling. I’m interested in your opinion and I think others probably are too, but you are getting written off because you are using the wrong tone for the circumstances. Also, accept that not everyone is going to bow to your opinion. We get it (mostly because you keep repeating yourself) that you think Williamsburg is a good school and you liked Ms. Francis. You don’t have to argue with everyone who doesn’t agree with your opinion. (Now, do the most important thing. Turn your jammies inside out so we can get a freaking two hour delay tomorrow, ok?)

    • The above comment referred to a series of comments that have since been removed.

    • Bender

      Oh, please. Give it a rest, teach. Same goes for the rest of you “grown ups.”

      Just because you are old(er), that does not some how convert such condescending arrogance into a virtue.

      • Skeptical

        Since when is it “condescending arrogance” to suggest that someone behave and express themselves like an adult in an adult forum — to include writing the English language at a level that used to be expected of all eighth graders? One of my parents went to a one-room rural school and never finished high school, but could write a simple, clear grammatical sentence without repetitions, capitalization mistakes or punctuation errors.Half the people in college can’t seem to accomplish that in 2011.

        If the “student” who posted all the remarks the Teacher referenced were reporting some frank abuse, injustice or personal testimony of, oh let’s say wartime horror, I would say corrections were over-the-top, but these are basically POV opinions posted in the hope of credibility, that go on and on in an online comment thread.

        I get really tired of hearing people called “arrogant” and “elitist” merely for saying that there is in fact a right way to do things, whether we’re talking about common courtesy or correct English usage.

        • Lou

          I would not get too worked up over it. I’m convinced there are only about 10 people posting in this whole thread.

          • Lou

            I agree.

          • Lou

            Me too.

        • Bender

          Same goes for you, Skeptical — especially since that posting of yours also is replete with grammatical errors and less than optimum sentence structure.

          Now, me? I don’t really care. I’m not a grammar Nazi. Neither am I one to condescendingly tell people to “grow up,” even though I am most likely older than you, Skeptical, as well as having more education.

    • BoredHouseWife

      +1

    • Stanley

      This is almost a perfect example of why students hate WMS. You will not find this @!#$% tone at other APS schools.

  • annoyed

    Student, I’ve got a 9th grader at YHS who also went to WMS. I’m pretty sure I know who you are and I’m about to call your mom. Go to sleep. You’re being silly. Whether or not Ms. Francis was “nice” to you is not really relevant. We adults are trying to determine the truth about a difficult situation that may have an effect on our children. There is a lot that you are unaware of that goes on behind the scenes in all schools. You are truly out of your league here. You’ve said what you wanted to say, let it go and leave it to the grown ups.

    • APS Teacher

      I think it is ridiculous that adults and educators would be undermining the opinions of a former Williamsburg student. Everyone can have a say, and in my opinion a student would have the highest knowledge on this topic, after all, they did attend the school and experience the leadership and education that the school has to give. Ms. Francis has brought about an argument that has been needed to be heard for quite some time. Please have respect for these students, because they are just as entitled to an opinion as yourself.

      • annoyed

        I was talking specifically to one Student who had posted many times throughout the thread. She had very little to add to the conversation other than Ms Francis is “nice”, which she was certainly entitled to say. However she continued to go on and on about how everyone else should be quiet unless we had something pleasant to say about her former principal. The issue is not whether or not Ms Francis is “nice”. And Student was simply being juvenile. Is she allowed? Sure. But it was past her bedtime.

    • Crabhands

      You impress me with your complete lack of adding anything to the discussion. My goal is for you to never post again and make this place that much better.

  • Former Student2

    I too am a former student. While I didn’t fully enjoy my middle school experience, I did get a good education at Williamsburg. Ms. Francis may be raising some eyebrows about how she addressed this situation, she is also bringing some light to issues Arlington citizens aren’t usually exposed to. I think Dr. Murphy may have some good ideas in theory. However, I’m not entirely sure he is earning the respect of students and teachers by implementing them without listening to imput from the community. The Arlington Way means not only hearing, but listening, every opinion out there. I think this might be something that everyone, not just Dr. Murphy can improve upon. APS IS a good school system, and we keep that up by voicing our concerns, which seems to be what Ms. Francis did.

    • WheresTheBeef

      The Arlington Way is to have the decision made behind closed doors, then hold public forums to act like people have a voice in this single party rule County. The fact is that the decision is already made by the time they go public…..

  • Another Student

    To Teacher:

    Let’s be more condescending to students…

  • A Student of some kind

    I went to Williamsburg about 3 years ago.
    I fully applaud the superintendent in his actions. Kathleen Francis was an unreasonable, vein, unqualified, petty woman and I’m glad to see her go. WMS was the worse experience of my life. The majority of the teachers were bad, and the ones that were good seemed incredibly stressed, all the time. I can say now with certainty that this incompetence trickled down from the top. I often received condescending comments from Mrs. Francis, and even when she said wasn’t directly condescending, the tone in her voice told you she didn’t respect students.

    • Al

      It’s so sad to see such poor writing skills coming out of our students in the Arlington schools. Whether it’s the principal, the superintendent, the teachers or the parents, it’s just so sad.

      “Vein” should be “vain”.

      “WMS was the worse experience” should be “WMS was the worst experience”.

      “The ones” is not an appropriate descriptor for a select group of individuals.

      “And even when she said wasn’t” is missing a word.

      I hope that parents take note of the “students” posting about this article and think about the fact that it could be their child; and worry that their child’s grammar and writing skills are subpar. Worrying about whether a teacher or principal isn’t very nice is ridiculous. It happens in life that there will always be someone who isn’t nice and you need to be able to effectively deal with that issue. Learning to speak and write properly will be the most effective way of dealing with difficult situations.

      Guess what? Real life isn’t all candy and rainbows and someone making you feel respected, important and valuable. It is more important to value the opportunity we have to get an education, and we should all be more concerned about ensuring our children are learning; whether it’s from a mean, nasty old teacher (who we all have had at one point or another) to the “sweetest little thing” who tells us how smart we are even we can’t add 2 plus 2 in 8th grade.

      In summary, let’s all worry less about “the environment” in our schools and ensure the level of skills our students is at the highest level possible instead of the recent examples here on this board. If the parents do their job, and reinforce the education their children are receiving, it just won’t matter what kind of principal is at a school, or what kind of teacher the child has for such a short period of time in their life.

      • Williamsburg Parent

        AMEN!

      • Al

        I have to correct myself if I’m going to be correcting others…”skills OF our students”.

        • mehoo

          Yep. Or just stop correcting others.

          • yet another WMS parent

            How ironic, since you just corrected my post. BTW, first one ever on any blog…thought content was the point. Oh well.

          • mehoo

            I know. I hold myself to the same standard as everyone else, so I’m fair game.

            And you do have a great post with useful substance.

      • student#2

        Al, sorry to undermine your happiness on correcting middle school students on their grammar, but this is the INTERNET. take a chill pill and stop trying to convince everyone that Arlington Public Schools are not teaching us how to write, because you are sadly mistaken. you have nooooo idea what your talking about, so please save it for someone who cares.

        • Andy

          Don’t you mean “is not teaching us to write”?

          Apparently, they is not.

          • Sam

            Oh, forgot – it’s “is” when APS is one entity. “Are” if you mean all of them. But, if you capitalize “Schools”, you surely mean it as one entity.

            Another sad example of the product of our school system.

      • A student of some kind

        Kudos for the corrections Al. You’re right, at least in the aspect that I should have proofread what I wrote a little better. But I completely disagree with the main points of your argument. Education is in fact the responsibility of the parents, but the school’s environment is the responsibility of the principal. I can tell you first hand that the environment at that school was not good. Therefore, Kathleen Francis did not do her job.
        Good environment is paramount to good education. To dismiss these concerns as inconsequential is ludicrous. I don’t think its implausible to create a positive school environment where the teachers and administrators display a basic amount of respect for the students while providing them with a proper education. I was not a ‘problem student,’ I cannot recall one time that I was in serious trouble. But I still was frequently talked down at by this woman.
        I apologize for the grammatical errors I may have made, I’m a little to bogged down with homework to do a truly thorough proofread. But I hope I got my point across in a satisfactory manner. Feel free to make corrections if you wish.

        • respect

          I have to congratulate you on staying above it– So many on these discussions are focused on trolling and nothing more. It’s commendable that you can take the high road when facing so much obnoxious criticism that adds nothing to the discussion. I think we can all agree that it’s obviously not constructive to critique grammar just to assert your superiority. It’s undoubtedly become advisable not to identify yourself as a student in this discussion, because the condescending among us will attack you mercilessly. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but obviously the students and teachers have a better idea of what’s going on than hypercritical parents. Let’s stay classy, people.

          • respect

            I forgot to mention that I’m also a current APS student– A WL freshmen, to be exact.

      • Recent HB Grad 2

        First of all, this is the Internet, not everything that you read is going to be carefully edited, and nitpicked into perfection. You seem to be a relatively intelligent human, so recognize that fact, move on, and realize that a comment posted on the Internet is not the most substantial writing sample out there for you to base your judgments on.

        What child is going to want to learn in a negative environment? As it stands, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to encourage students and to get them to actually enjoy learning? When you like to do something, you tend to do more of it, more often.

        As for some of the students that are posting about this article, they have been able to handle this situation. Sure they have taken to complaining, or defending their experiences, but at least they are speaking up. As I, and others, see it, this is a place to voice our opinions and concerns of and for the APS system, so why not let the people that it affects the most say what they have to say. It is apparent that the students have found a good way to be heard (judged by your posts and others), and thus have a good way to “effectively deal with [the] issue.”

        As for teachers and principles not mattering, that is absurd. Some of the most influential people in my life have been teachers, and I am who I am today thanks to them. Teachers tend to see students more often than parents do, and if a child is in a bad familial situation, then you would want them to turn to a teacher or principle more than almost anyone else out there. Teachers encourage students to think for themselves, and behave in a positive way in addition to what they are being paid for. What other job out there has that much affect on people? I would hope that the people who our children see almost every day are positive and encouraging. That “short period of time” that you’re talking about, can affect people for years to come.

        • Recent HB Grad

          This.

  • Clueless

    There is a rising discussion in school reform circles that middle school needs to be replaced and kids put into a different elementary and high school system of some sort. I think this incident and the discussion remarks above are fuel for that fire.

  • Teacher

    Well, yes, I admit, that comment does look pretty assy if you remove everything that led up to it. If you are going to remove a string of comments, ARLNOW, remove them all.

  • Anon

    Flaming Dog Poo and the Human Reaction

  • Arlwhenever

    I don’t know the principal or her situation but she hits the nail on the head with Murphy (sometimes it takes one to know one). The guy is a vainglorious disaster. Brown should have stayed. Murphy must go.

  • Arlwhenever

    School Board, if you are reading this (and you darn well better be), Murphy manages up, period.

  • Westoverite

    I have no children at WMS so can’t comment on the facts; I have met with Supt. Murphy (Chat with Super last year) and find it hard to believe that an organization such as APS has no appeal process for performance reviews?

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  • Good decision

    My husband went all through the APS….thats why we are sacrificing a lot to send our five children to private school.

    • Crabhands

      What you are “sacrificing” is a great education. Too bad you can’t see that. Compare the requirements for being a private school teacher vs. that of a public school teacher. The public school requirements are nine times out of ten more strenuous and harder to achieve.

    • Recent HB Grad

      Some of APS’ schools are not only free, but better than any private school you could send your kids to.

  • Greg

    With the students joining in, this is the best thread ever. Someone actually listed their teaches and told Lou to “Suck on that”? The other student with the “they’re like 40 comment”? Good stuff.

    • Lou

      You mean “student”? Anybody can look up teachers names on the internet. I’d be curious if “student” could tell me Ms. Eiserman’s first name and about how tall she is, because the funny thing is, I had her for English too.

      • Greg

        Good point.

      • student

        first name terry and shes really short

  • Bluemont John

    OK, as a completely objective outside observer with no prior connections to any of the parties or institutions involved, here’s my take, based solely on the comments here:

    First, if everything Ms. Francis put in her e-mail is true, then I don’t think it was unprofessional to send the e-mail. This is not merely a case of disliking or disagreeing with one’s supervisor; if her claims are true, then I think parents and the public in general absolutely *should* know about this kind of abuse. Retaliation against an employee for filing a harassment or discrimination complaint is ILLEGAL. If the superintendent did in fact do those things, then it’s an extremely serious problem.

    Second: I’m inclined to believe the assertions in her e-mail because she would surely know that to falsely disparage someone with made-up claims would be grounds for a libel suit. Why would she put herself at risk like that? Unless she is truly, clinically insane, she would not. In fact, I’d bet she’s planning to sue APS and that part of the reason for the e-mail is to establish her side of what happened.

    Third: Although it’s possible that the ostensible students posting here are really adults, to me their experiences ring of accuracy–in which case Ms. Francis seems to be a truly wonderful asset to her school.

    I’m not one to conclude anything without hearing both sides, but if what Ms. Francis says is true, then this is an open-and-shut case in her favor.

    Again, I’d barely heard of WMS until now; I don’t know anyone who goes there or (to my knowledge) went there, and I’d not heard of any of these folks till yesterday.

  • generic teacher

    gossip among teachers is that murphy is trying to bring the authoritative fairfax system to arlington. but some of the changes being put into place prove that he is not in touch with the realities of teaching. gone is the “arlington way,” welcome “generic” school district. lame protocol and unrealistic goals, we might as well go to DCPS where we will get the same, but for +15k more!

  • V Dizzle

    Me went WMS, and me turn out a-ok! (Seriously, I feel dumber for reading this thread.)

  • Edgar99

    “Williamsburg is an outstanding school with wonderful students and a dedicated staff.” Translated: “Williamsburg is the whitest middle school in Arlington.” Seriously, why don’t we just contract out our education system to Sweden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Sweden#Free_schools_in_Sweden
    Perhaps the only place in the world with a clue as to how to run a school system.

  • SoCo Resident

    Wow. What a read! Gonna get myself fixed.

  • JeffM

    This is one of the saddest Arlington stories I have read in recent years. I am as equally dismayed by the unwise decision of the departing principal to send that unfortunate e-mail as I am by the many equally unwise comments expressed above. The best approach going forward is for the parents to come together in the Williamsburg PTL in the coming week and hear directly from the Superintendant’s office as to the facts and to raise any questions and concerns directly with the APS and Williamsburg school leadership. Speculation, gossip, and unfair attacks on current and former school officials and teachers contributes nothing to the well being of the students and the community. We can do better and I urge my fellow Arlington residents to keep their emotions in check and wait for the facts to come out, as they eventually will. We are a thriving community with much to be proud of and part of our great strength is our passion for excellence and achivement and abiding respect for each other. Let’s keep that heritage and strength intact at this moment of challenge.

    • annoyed

      It would be great if we could hear from the Superintendent. However according to an email he sent WMS parents today, that will not happen. While stating that the school and children are the priority, he also says,

      “While I understand that many parents may have questions, it has always been the
      practice of the Arlington Public Schools that we do not publicly discuss
      Personnel issues. Therefore, we will continue to respond with a high level of
      professionalism and cannot discuss Ms Francis’s actions now or in the future.
      However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.”

      now or in the future

      Sounds like a loud door closing against discussion to me.

      • Sean

        I would be impressed if someone could find an organization which would make comments, in open forum, on Personnel matters in this United States.

  • yet another WMS parent

    This is our family’s 5th year at WMS and it has been a mixed experience. Many of the teachers are absolutely terrific…committed, interesting, sharp people who are very good at their jobs. Overall my kids have gotten a good education there. In my experience, however, the administration has not been responsive to concerns about poor performers, including a couple of teachers who consistently show a serious lack of respect for students. The overall culture at WMS is one of compliance and rules. It is ironic to me that Ms. Francis says that her situation is based on her efforts to remove a poor performer, when the WMS administration in general has been unresponsive to specific and consistent concerns over many years about a few truly bad teachers who are still there. I feel badly for the rest of the staff who will be affected by this drama. Most are doing a great job, and I suspect feel they’re succeeding in spite of the culture and administrative tone, not because of the leadership they get.

    • mehoo

      Thanks for an informative post.

      I hate to jump on the grammar train, but this one is too important:

      It’s “I feel bad” not “I feel badly.”

      • John Fontain

        True dat. And the way you know it is because one says “I feel good” not “I feel goodly.”

        • mehoo

          Yeah, and that’s really confusing, because you’d say “I feel well” instead of “good” if you are feeling healthy, or if you are good at feeling stuff.

          “Badly” is one of those things where what’s correct actually doesn’t sound correct, but it is. You don’t feel badly — unless you have a nerve condition that affects your sense of touch.

          • Bluemont John

            So the James Brown song should go, “I feel well/the way that I should now”?

            There’s room in our language for artistic license. When people ask me how I am, I say “I’m good.” Not “I’m well.” The latter is pretentious and stiff.

            If it ain’t broke…

            Now let’s see if we can get the comment count up to 300!

          • grammar dork

            Sure there’s room for artistic license. Sometimes. But this is a blog, not a James Brown song.

            But “I feel good” is also perfectly correct. As mehoo said, the use of good and well is actually quite confusing. Good is correct when you feel good. You use well when you feel healthy – the opposite of “ill.” You shouldn’t say well to mean good either. So go ahead and say you feel good, or well, unless you feel bad, or ill.

  • An Area Employer

    What a bureaucratic nightmare.

  • Insider Info

    I guess if she didn’t shred documents on a student last year to cover her own A#$, then she might have had a better review for the 2009-2010 school year. Just a thought.

  • Pam Ouzts

    GoodLordAlmighty – Stay focused people – we have a situation here. I recognize this is a blog site that encourages expression; nevertheless, I hope most of you are taking this very seriously. That Ms. Francis committed career suicide by sending out the letter she did is most troubling. Regardless of your personal opinion of her or whether or not she did a “good job” in your personal opinion, she is a professional and not an over-reactive person. Common sense tells many of us that know her and have kids in the school that there most be truth in her allegations. This is what needs to be discussed and investigated. We cannot have the Board Leadership get away with wrongdoing. We’ve had one child at W’burg and another is in 7th grade. We’re military and had experiencese with multiple schools (public and private) all over the world and nation. W’burg stacks up as one of the best for education and surpasses many with respect to the staffs’ expectations of students. As a PTA board member, I will respectfully request a formal investigation to rule out illegal activity on the part of our school board. As a side snarky comment – parents who disliked Ms. Francis — did you ever attend a PTA meeting or alert the PTA and/or County Board of your dissatisfaction? If you truly felt she was not appropriate for the job, then you should have voiced your opinion. If you did, then now is the time to dig out those letters of complaint for what I hope is a full investigation into this matter so that the truth can be brought to the forefront instead of people making decisions on supposition. And kudos to you students who posted. It’s good to see kids with an attitude other than “whateveverrrr”. Pam Ouzts – Arlington, VA

    • teacher

      I agree that there should be a full investigation. As an experienced, motivated teacher, I met nothing but resistance and deceit from Ms. Francis. I had nothing but respect for my teaching colleagues and I loved my students. Morale was low and it was definitely an oppressive environment. Thankfully, I was able to get out.

      Please consider the number of teachers that left WMS under her leadership. Please follow up with those teachers’ careers and consider whether or not they are flourishing educators at other schools. If she weeded out the bad teachers/staff by making them miserable- Hooray! If she squeezed out exemplary teachers/staff because of the lack of support for her teachers, adverse administrative decisions or conscious efforts to eliminate whole programs- her resignation is a good thing.

  • Arlington Taxpayer

    Dr. Murphy was the outcome of a very expensive ($80k if I recall) nationwide search. Where did they find him? Well, he lives just down the street from several members of the Arlington school board. (the ones who hired him). I don’t know if he has kids, but he lives in the Williamsburg boundary, so kids did/will go there.

    • Narl

      I didn’t know of any county board members lived northside, if they did why the heck didn’t they plow better

  • cheese

    OK I’m sorry, but let us please deal with grammar at another time and deal with the issue here. The needless amount grammar posts are filing up too much space!

  • Anon2

    I took those comments from students seriously, despite their casual disregard of grammatical rules, because of their sincerity and relevance to the post. In short, their content had heart, in stark contrast to so many of the others.

    No matter how you cut it, I believe that Patrick Murphy owes Arlington’s parents and citizens a candid discussion on his accomplishments, priorities, and management style. It need not be a discussion of “Personnel” issues as he puts it in his official responses, and it can be moderated to keep the discussion on topic, but to hide behind the blanket “policy” excuse like that to stymie further interaction renders more credibility to the principal’s assertions.

  • cheese

    Did anybody else see those cameras outside the school today?

  • ohmy

    Woahh..just read this whole blog and I have to say it’s pretty hilarious. I’m sorry parents and teachers, but when teenagers and kids are writing online, we are not trying are hardest to write a well written novel. Just because our “syntax” is not up to the level that yours may be at, does not mean that our opinions should not be taking seriously. When kids write on the internet, it’s more about getting your idea across than trying our hardest to impress.

  • Andi

    I’ve read the posts, some were comical, some were a bit questionable. If anyone has ever worked at APS in the administrative building, then you are aware of the issues we’ve had with the Superintendent (or lack thereof) and his “minions”. Ms. Francis’ letter was on point, maybe a tad unprofessional and she can be difficult to deal with, but she was on point, nonetheless. The individuals she mentioned in her letter have wreaked havoc long enough and it’s time someone had the nerve enough to take a stand, so I say GOOD FOR HER!

  • Arlingtonian

    I think it is important to know that there is much more to this story that Mr. Francis’ letter indicates. Throughout her tenure, she has engaged in bullying and harrassment of the employees in here school. The specific employee she referenced was not a threat or safety issue. In fact, he has legal charges for discrimination out against her. Those charges may eventually cost APS thousands. If you want to know what life was like under her tenure, ask the teachers who resigned after they had to testify in court about how she was shredding student documents in the middle of a criminal investigation. It amazes me that the story of her resignation is getting so much attention when that shredding incident was never discussed publically. Interestingly enough, she notes that her performance evaluations began to change the same year APS leadership was notified of her actions during that criminal investigation. Of course, she leaves that part out of her letter.

    • Whatever

      Quit trolling. If those claims had any merit the courts and/or the school district would have acted on them. My guess is you are one of the people that resigned when you couldn’t get anyone to listen to your fairy tales. If I were you, I would stop talking or someone is going to recognize you and let everybody know your story. My guess is that there is some dirt there.

  • Jo

    I was an early 2000’s APS grad who never attended Williamsburg.

    Therefore, knowing very little about the current situation, let’s see if we can agree on the primary issue.

    It is possible for both the principal to be a terrible employee/principal and for the superintendent to be at fault. If the superintendent took punitive action against the principal for attempting as best she could, within the system, take action to rid APS of a non-performing/disruptive employee then shouldn’t that be our focus?

    Leadership comes from the top, if the principals claims are true, that kind of action and attitude percolates down and has the potential to ruin a terrific school system.

  • RespectingOthers

    Wow. I have just read through this entire thread. I’m a parent within APS – elementary school level. I’m so disheartened by the lack of respect people have for each other here. This is obviously a very heated and controversial issue – everyone will have an opinion and has the right to share it. But please, let’s try to remember to be respectful of others, whether you’re a parent, student, teacher, or whomever. Thank you.

    • JeffM

      Amen and thank you. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people in this forum act like they are from Peyton Place and not from Arlington. Where is our civic pride? Where is our duty to the common good? Where is the good judgement and good manners that we want to see demonstrated for our children? Some of these postings are slanderous and libelous, with all the divisivness that malice and fear mongering always brings. Enough is enough. Let’s all reach into our better selves and strive for the highest common good and not let legitimate fears, questions, and concerns overwhelm us and plunge our good community into an unseemly descent toward the lowest common demominator. Arlington, we can and must do better.

  • ohmy

    yall are wack

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  • Disappointed

    I must say, I was saddened to hear of these unfortunate events. I never had a problem with Ms. Francis! Sure, I complained about dress code, but every school has a dress code and I think it is unfair that she is being so harshly criticized, especially since she appears to be the victim. I also find it extremely disappointing and ridiculous that everyone here has created so much unnecessary drama over it! Only APS faculty and board members know what the true story is; we students and parents are only given a small look into the problem. I am ashamed of all the people on her who are bashing Ms. Francis AND eachother! The comments made by people such as “Bored House Wife” disgust, as it seems she has nothing better to do than insult a student who is less than half her age! And students, please show some respect! You all are not as high and mighty as you seem to think. It is time everyone takes a chill pill and leave the issue to those directly involved!

  • worried

    1) Dr. Wentzel was not the staff member Ms. Francis was trying to force out. That staff member was not a teacher or an administrator.
    2) Part of the problem here is a huge overemphasis on test scores. Murphy says his main concern is students… but really it is test scores. The pressure to raise scores over the past two years has increased. Our entire country has gone wacko over test scores, and they don’t give a complete story of a student’s achievement or knowledge or a teacher or school’s quality.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Amen Worried,

      Too much emphasis is being placed on test scores. I would rather see our education system focus on developing our kids’ ability to think. Not everyone will go to college. However, we measure success by how many people go to college. I have witnessed on numerous occasions that teaching people through theory and vocation is the more appropriate way to educate our society. My parents were not college educated (they are in their 70s), but they appeared to have had a better education coming out of high school than I, even though I had a full-scholarship to undergraduate school and attended Ivy League graduate school.

  • student of wms class of 2007

    I’m sure the superintendent was way out of line, but i must say, I’m sorry she didnt resign before i had to endure her. She created an unhappy enviornment at wms. she didnt get to know anyones names, and closed her self off from the students. she handled the few teacher dismissals poorly, for example: mrs hall was never on drugs, yet she did nothing to subdue the terrible rumers surrounding her departure. she also seemed to only care about a dresscode that was ludicris. my 8th grade year was tramatized by having to change my outfit every single day in the spring time. i would buy shorts and skirts 3 sizes to big so that they would pass the test, yet they “looked” to short on me, and i would have to change into old gym clothes. i also witnessed her ignorance towards culture. she made no attempt to even try and prenounce foreign names. Just poll any student in the past years from both swanson and willimasburg, the sms kids will tellyou how much they loved swanson and the teachers there, and how they felt like a family, where wms students will tell you how much they hated their time there, and the school system was cold and hard.

  • WMSgradof2009

    The responses from parents regarding this letter are appaling. The level of immaturity and complete juvenile behavior among adults is incredible. Bickering back and forth about the grammar of students? Despicable. The many adults here that would like to call themselves “grown up” because they are so “incredibly superior” need a reality check. Granted, I only read 2/3 of the arguement, but I can’t believe parents are able to put down students! How incredibly irresponsible. What if those were your children defending the school they went to?
    I am a sophomore at YHS and I came out of WMS with a 4.0 gpa. Ms. Francis was a respectable woman and principle and the STUDENT evaluations are the ones people should value. She was spirited, thoughtful, and hardworking. People pick on her for her rules on the dress code? Seriously? Admitedly, I did not always comply with the standards (and had to change), but I complain. Quite honestly, many of you adults need to grow up. You didn’t experience her the way students and faculty did.

    • WMSgradof2009

      but i *didn’t* complain

    • Boss

      I agree with WMSgradof2009. Really that was a very well thought-out response to the irresponsible parents on this forum. Whoever that is truly captured the lesson behind this unfortunate event.

  • Disappointed

    Dr.Wentzel is transferring to a different school, Jamestown I think. But this is stupid, most of the kids at school like Ms.Francis. She was one of the best principals. I mean seriously, if we had a charity, she would help with every one of them. The superintendent threatened to fire her, and gave our school a bad review. That’s just plain stupid, isn’t it? I mean seriously ? All of the people, I know are really smart. Sure there are few kids who misbehave, but I’m pretty sure about every school has that! It’s disadvantage for us, and people think school is horrible sometimes, because we have homework and work hard on subjects. You think we’re boring, but I have a lot of fun at school and it’s not boring. So please, if you don’t go to this school now, like I do. Stop critisizing, you have no right. Your kids probably complained, because they didn’t want to go to school. Our school activities are excellent, in fact. Don’t judge her, she is very caring and nice.

  • Retired APS Employee

    Unfortunately, the school system consistently hires individuals that are not suitable for leadership roles. This is the perfect opportunity for a serious review of ALL leadership starting with the school board, the superintendent, the assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals and supervisors.

    I worked with both Dr. Murphy and Mrs. Francis. Both are very difficult people to work with.

    Dr. Murphy is unapproachable. He tries to run the schools like Fairfax with the same resources at his disposal. He sets unrealistic goals and has unrealistic expectations for all staff. He spends money like it’s fairfax too. Why else would he buy himself a $1,000 chair? My sources also tell me he bought ipads for everyone and has consultants for everything. His approach is cold hearted and I am sure not what the school system bargained for. What do you expect from this school board? What happened to no funds for the planetarium?

    Mrs. Francis is equally as cold. I have been on the receiving end of cold, demanding and condescending phone calls. Like Dr. Murphy, she is a “my way or the highway” type of person. She has been known to make your life difficult if you say no to her or disagree with her methods. I personally know of three teachers that left their WMS citing Mrs. Francis as the main reason.

  • The Real Truth

    As someone with first-hand knowledge of the incident involving the deliberate shredding of documents pertaining a criminal case of a student who was relentlessly bullied, Ms. Francis is not a victim. This incident alone, which happened in 2009/2010, led to several teachers and staff resigning or transferring on sheer principle alone. This is an incident that was kept very secret (this is because there is a pending civil lawsuit against her and the school). The incident involved a student with learning disabilities who was relentlessly bullied during the three years at WMS. I talking real physical violence. It was brought to Ms. Francis’ attention over the three years by dozens of teachers, staff, parents, and even students and nothing was done to protect the victim and even less was done to the bully. To make a long story short, when documentation concerning referals made to Ms. Francis reporting the bullying incidents were subpeonaed in a criminal matter, she specifically had one of her admin staff SHRED the documentation. This was because she didn’t want to admit that she and the school had been grossly neglectful in protecting this student and removing the bully. I can tell you that this is unequivocally ILLEGAL and UNETHICAL. I don’t know about her current claims, but what I know at the very least is what goes around comes around. The damage she did to this particular student is reprehensible and it was only a matter of time that she would be punished for her bad deeds (those both known and unknown).

  • rock

    I’m also glad she is leaving when i was there she made my middle school years the worst years of my life. she made a lot of racist comments when i was there.

    • SET

      That whole administrative staff was bad for minorities. Way out of touch and I feel sorry for so many of the students who often feel out of place.
      They even ran off most of the diversity in the staff. Francis is not the only one that needs to go. Even the head of counselling is bad.

  • Student

    I am a current 7th grader there. To hear about this email from my mom was sad. I loved her! I don’t want her to leave! I was up in the office in the morning right before 1st period and saw a camera crew all around her. It was horrible. They were storming her with questions. I wanted to be on the camera though haha. But i’m gonna miss her. WMS is an amazing school. But to be honest I don’t know why she would walk about this to any camera crew. It’s stupid.

  • former student

    Mrs Francis is not a quiter. obviuosly this superintendant is very bad. when i was at wms everything was fine. i liked all teachers, even tho sum were crazy. If you actually read her letter you can see she is doing this for her students and staff. that makes her a very good person. give some respect

  • Charlotte

    All you parents hating on WMS teachers and Ms. Francis, please save it. WMS is and will always be a great school. Speaking as a student I know first hand what the learning environment is here, and it is a very good one, thank you very much. All of my teahers have been excellent except for a certain American-studies teacher that I will leave unamed. Ms. Francis was a great principal and I back her 110% on this issue. That superintendent needs to be reported. And yes, the facts point to Dr. Wentzel being the staff member because she is “coincidentally” leaving WMS to go to work at McKinley elementary school because this job at WMS was apparently too “stressful” for her. If you have ever seen that lady at work you would know that that is a load of bs. Plus, rumors are spreading like wild fire that it is her. Please no more hating on ms. Francis. She really doesn’t deserve your negative comments after all she’s been through.

    • 2009WMSGraduate

      I very much enjoy your comment and I have several theories as to who that certain American Studies teacher is. (Ideally, I would put a playful “haha” or “lol” here to emphasize the joking tone of the comment but I’m afraid I’d be FLAMED for it by the parents here that so enjoy giving out personal grammar lessons.)

    • Staff

      It wasn’t Dr. Wentzel. If you read the letter, the timing doesn’t make sense. I can assure you, the staff know exactly who this person is and there is no love lost that this person is gone.

  • FormerStudent

    Whether or not Ms. Francis was a good principal is only part of the issue. What is concerning is that the superintendent is willing to question the achievement of the students with an Unsatisfactory rating; he is exploiting a label that is intended to identify troubled schools and help students for his own personal gain.

  • student

    Maybe the ultimate solution is to have more open and accepting schools like HB? Haha wouldn’t that be nice?

    • Recent HB Grad 2

      Yah, it really would be.

  • just a student

    Maybe the ultimate solution is to have more open and accepting schools like HB? Haha wouldn’t that be nice?

    • oops

      Accidentally posted that twice. awwwkward…

  • Bender

    Shredding of documents pertaining a criminal case??

    Well, that puts this thing in an entirely different light. If true, that would be grounds for a criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice, as well as being fired on grounds of moral turpitude.

    Question is — Is it true?

  • WMSParent

    As someone with direct knowledge of this situation, I would just like to inform posters that Dr. Wentzel was _not_ the “person” involved. Please stop spreading the rumor that she was the personnel problem. She was not. Think about what you are doing by perpetuating this rumor. She has a new job to start in a few weeks, and she doesn’t need this rumor following her around. APS administrators know she was not “the one” but kids and parents may question it and no matter what you may think of her, she doesn’t deserve that.

  • WMSParent

    As someone with direct knowledge of this situation, I would like to confirm that Dr. Wentzel is _not_ the person involved in the personnel action. Please stop spreading this rumor and think about what you are doing. She is starting a new job in a few weeks and, while APS Administrators know that she was not the “personnel action,” parents may be wondering. No matter what you may think of her, she does not need such rumors following her to her new job. Please, express your opinion, but do not spread rumors.

  • UhOh

    These allegations (both sides) need to be investigated thoroughly and publicized. The APS stance of not addressing personnel issues publicly no longer applies in this instance, the implications and charges by Mrs. Francis are too severe. If she is covering up past indiscretions, that needs to be brought to fore as well. Maybe Dan McKenna can take it on-he seems to know how to root out the truth!

  • As a current employee, I have first hand knowledge of the current APS situation. The information pertaining to Dr. Murphy is completely accurate. He is moving our county towards the Fairfax model in all areas. He has not established relationships with APS staff and on numerous occasions with different employee groups has made it clear that he is not looking for anything other than complete compliance with his directives. He’s hiring many of his Fairfax County friends as consultants and experts. Across the system, people are in disbelief that this was the best result the board got from a nationwide search. If the school board REALLY wants to know what the morale is of the system, why not use one of the many surveys being done to survey the employees? Parents, ask principals and teachers what they think. APS is in a terrible place. Do not be surprised when many employees, from the top down, look elsewhere for employment. As for Ms. Francis, while I don’t know specifics of her situation, the information she shared about Dr. Murphy and his inability to relate to others, delegating his dirty work to everyone below him, authoritative leadership style, inappropriate use of funds, and lack of responsiveness to system needs, are all true.

  • something

    I’m sorry for saying this, but the entire WMS administration needs to go through a change. Starting out with the principal. Ms. Wentzel NEEDS to be fired. I knew a student who was sent to detention for not cleaning up his lunch table. That is absurd. The administration needs to stop focusing on things of less importance like the dress code and cleaning up lunch tables and should start caring about improving test scores. The children from WMS are being dumped into the YHS community and coming out as stubborn assholes. How about changing that instead of their table manners which should be reserved for the parents. I JUST WENT HAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • moreStuff

      Ms. Wentzel is history anyway, she took another job in the county, but she is not the person that Ms. Francis was talking about.

  • WMSparent

    Change the ADMIN.

  • JeffM

    It’s heartbreaking to see so many people in this forum act like they are from Peyton Place. Some of these postings are slanderous and libelous. Enough is enough. Arlington, let’s stand together and work together in the PTA to constructively address this challenge. Legitimate fears, questions, and concerns should not overwhelm us and plunge our good community into an unseemly descent toward the lowest common denominator. It’s natural to blame and give in to fear, but nothing positive ever results from that. So let’s unite for solutions, not divide for the blame.

  • Chill.Out.

    I get so tired of people hating on Williamsburg. It’s a good school. I have a kid there now and one who graduated. I have never seen a “Respect your teachers” poster; I have, however, seen posters there about respecting others and respecting oneself, which is a positive message. Bottom line is, middle school is a difficult time for many kids. I remember parents gossiping about perceived problems with bullying and rigidity at Williamsburg when it came time to sign up for middle school; oddly enough, it was mostly the parents who had already sent kids to Kenmore or HB who were spreading the anti-Williamsburg tales, perhaps because they needed affirmation for their own decisions. In my experience, however, the kids who transferred to other middle schools had far more problems with bullying and rigidity than we ever did at Williamsburg. One of my kids did run into a problem with a bully at WMS, but as soon as I called Miss Francis, she took care of it and the problem ceased. I know it isn’t always that easy, but we’ve been very happy at Williamsburg. There was one teacher who was an uptight old biddy, but she retired last year, unfortunately not before she made our lives stressful. Unfortunately, principals don’t have the power to simply remove teachers who shouldn’t be teaching, and, at every school, there are teachers who should have retired a long time ago.

    I just don’t understand the overall hostility in Arlington toward Williamsburg. It’s entirely undeserved. Some will point out that it has a higher percentage of whites due to its location. Is that a reason to despise a school? Its demographics are only slightly whiter than Swanson and HB, and they are a function of its attendance area, not any kind of admissions policies. Regardless, it seems pretty racist to judge a school purely on demographics. Yes, it has a dress code, like all the other schools except for HB apparently. Personally I don’t want my kids going to a school where it is acceptable to wear nothing but underwear and a cape, but if that floats your boat, I guess it is good that we have HB. But I don’t want my daughter feeling pressured to dress in booty shorts and a tube top so I’m glad that they enforce a level of dress standards that are more compatible with the outside world.

    I had a lot of respect for Miss Francis. The desperation in her note was so uncharacteristic that I feel compelled to take it seriously. I hope that there is an outside investigation that will determine if the superintendent was jeopardizing the education of the students at Williamsburg by harassing their principal and preventing her from doing the job we needed her to do.

    • not.so.chill?

      hahahahahahaha i think he took the cape seriously!

  • Steve

    I worked with Ms. Francis and she is tough, but you must give her a lot of the credit for the good school WMS is. APS does not have an effective HR program or leadership, and the word out is that the Supt. needs to go.

  • Carol

    I think it’s about time some more parent’s and staff spoke out against Murphy. Myself and other parents have spoken with him at length about troubling issues in APS and our group was only a “data point” to him. Not a big enough issue for him, therefore we didn’t matter.

    Murphy should have never gotten this job at APS. We needed/need a person with vision and ideas–not another bureaucrats that’s been in the system for a over a decade. SCHOOL BOARD–THIS IS YOUR WARNING–GET RID OF MURPHY NOW BEFORE MORE OF HIS ISSUES EMBARRASS ARLINGTON ANYMORE. Actually, we’d like to see the school board members gone too. Let’s get some real parents on the school board who care about the kids.

  • your mom

    duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh q

  • studentatWMSnow

    eh, ms. francis was not that bad. but the problem is how they dont take seriously concerns and comments about their teaching staff! i had a 6th grade math teacher that told me i was stupid, and they didnt believe me. other parents have complained over the course of the year and nothing happens because of it.

    and personally, the dress code is frustrating.

  • I know nothing about this particular school, but I know that many of our districts are as much about educating children as Bernie Madoff was about investing. I wrote a book explaining what is going on since those with power are able to keep the truth under cover. White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail – check it out at Amazon.com or WhiteChalkCrime.com. Murphy sounds like the typical White Chalk Criminal – putting politics over public service. Ms. Francis described precisely what White Chalk Criminals do. They love keeping bad teachers and pretending they cannot fire them as it causes such a divide between parents and teachers – just what they want. I realize it is hard to learn about another scam when it seems like that is all there is these days, but fail to learn about the education scam at your children’s peril! As a former teacher I felt compelled to expose this scam. Parents and teachers need to learn about it and unite before this corporate takeover of our schools squashes the foundation of our democracy – our schools.

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