Two Palm Beach Lakes teachers have alerted Superintendent Robert Avossa that they believe their principal and the area superintendent are harassing and intimidating students who spoke out about their lack of a geometry teacher at a school board meeting earlier this week.
They also repeat claims the students made after school Thursday that Principal Cheryl McKeever told the geometry students they don’t have a teacher because they ran off the job candidate.
McKeever did not respond to comment Friday morning.
But the students’ treatment at the hands of both McKeever and Area Superintendent Camille Coleman were the subject of emails to Avossa.
According to one email: “I would like to tell you that there is a high degree of intimidation by the Head Principal, Dr. McKeever.
“Yesterday in 7th Period, she summoned the kids into the auditorium and berated them about this issue,” the teacher wrote Friday morning.
The teacher went on to say that McKeever threw the blame on the students, saying, “The kids do not have a teacher because they ran him off, implying that their issue was one of their making.”
The teacher continued: “I will not sit back and tolerate blatant harassment and intimidation and victim blaming by anyone. Both Dr. McKeever AND area superintendent, Coleman (I believe was her name) have both attempted this. In fact, Ms. Coleman showed a level of disrespect that is unbecoming her position to the kids’ faces.”
Coleman told the Palm Beach Post Friday that she spoke to the students after the meeting per the direction of School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw.
“I noted their concerns, discussed possible resolutions and assured the that these concerns would be addressed,” Coleman said in a email.
A second teacher also emailed the superintendent about Thursday’s fallout:
“One of the students who was at the school board yesterday just came and told me he was put in a room … asked questions and then asked to sign an affidavit about his complaints outside the presence of his parents. This is just wrong,” the teacher wrote.
Coleman said she was not at these meetings, but a representative from the district’s personnel office was.
“Several of the issues brought forward by the student required follow-up. Most importantly, the principal was directed to ensure that a certified teacher covers the class-load full-time as opposed to the math coach supporting a substitute,” Coleman wrote.
Sophomores Joseph Trahan and Lemuel Gadson said they were interviewed individually in the presence of Darron Davis, an employee in the district’s human resources department.
Gadson said he felt he was called in to be interrogated about speaking at the board meeting and not the issue he, his classmates and their parents have been battling most of the year – the lack of a geometry teacher for an honors class.
Gadson, a basketball and football player, left Palm Beach Gardens High, a school regarded for its athletics program to attend Palm Beach Lakes’ Legal Academy.
And despite the rough time he’s had with math, he and the others who attended the board meeting, were most concerned that the school as a whole not get a black-eye.
“My parents are disgusted with this situation. I can’t tell you how many times they said I can’t believe you left Gardens to go to Lakes, but I love Palm Beach Lakes. A lot of kids feel the same way, they just don’t want to talk about it.”