Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bad blogger, bad

Apologies for being so bad about posting lately. Somehow this end part of the summer is tough. Right now we're in the gap - camps, goodbye to old schools, getting through the summer assignments, getting out of the city and the yearly amusement park trip. I'm trying to relax, but I keep on picturing the coming school year. I'm pretty nervous about it, actually. Three kids in three schools leads to logistical nightmares. We were there two years ago, but last year it was just two schools. Don't forget extra-curricular activities and homework when you picture the chaos.

Then there's the concept of having a kid in high school that's just about killing me. I don't know if I'm ready for dates and college applications. I remember being in high school. And my mom? She was old, really, really old. And what does that make me? Plus the special one is going back into general education. That's a tremendous transition for everyone involved. And it was only a few years ago we were transitioning the other way. Learning together to live together sounds right to me, but that doesn't keep me from being anxious.

It would be a lot more comfortable if everybody could just stay put for a few years. Alas, that's not the way it goes in the parenting business. That reminds me of a joke I heard about fourteen years ago (new babe in arms): Ask a parent about what's great right now in their kid's development. After they tell you respond, "Don't worry, they'll grow out of it." So there you have it - kids grow, schools change, teachers change, PTAs change. Love it or hate it, it will change. I've got a few weeks, but then it's time to keep plodding through and learning on the job.


  1. People tell us we're crazy for wanting to move to the city. But it's really what we want.
    Thanks for the info and keep it coming!

  2. Here is what is happening at City College: (from )

    Just so you can see that frustration is happening for all stakeholders in the system.

    Timeline of events (from Mr. Percy)
    Mr. Percy emailed this, thinking it would be helpful. Mr. Dawson has been able to state his position publically, but not Mr. Percy. Since Mr. Dawson has been known to do underhanded things with his staffs for the last several years, we tend to believe Mr. Percy's very detailed version of events. It is very long but worth a read. PLEASE email and call Dr. Alonso (Superintendent)[W (410) 396-8803, Fax (410) 396-8898, email] and Roger Shaw (Director of Secondary Schools) at (443) 984-2958 or

    Hopefully honesty and integrity wins out! The class of 09 needs our college advisor back!

    Timeline of Events:

    Late April: After being offered a similar job in Boston, MA, I approached Ms. Harcum about my desire to stay at City College. She asked me what was important to me and I stated that job security and perhaps the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree were important to me. Ms. Harcum stated that with the new found opportunity for principal’s to control their budget that there was a possibility of making the Director of College Advising position a full-time position.

    At first we moved forward with the process of creating a new position within the budget termed “Director of College Advising.” We were to move forward with the creation of the position and began following the proper steps set forth by the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS). Shortly thereafter, we were informed that the position did not need to be created and that the position would be termed an “Educational Associate.”

    Mid-May: I was told that the Director of College Advising position would become a full-time benefited position under the terminology “Educational Associate.” Ms. Harcum informed me that it would be a 12 month position that would pay out $62,000 per year.

    Early June: The Educational Associate position was created within the Baltimore City Public School System with a Job description that I helped write. The position was created and posted on the BCPSS website. On June 5th, I went down to the BCPSS Human Resource (HR) Offices on North Avenue and submitted my Resume and Cover Letter for the position. I was told that the process would be a quick one as the window to apply was very short.

    June 15th: My temporary contract expired. At this point I had been told that over the summer I would sign a full-time benefited contract as an "Educational Associate." The benefits of this position would be that it would be a full 12 months and that I would have the opportunity to work during the summer.

    July 7th: I had not yet heard anything from Baltimore City College and so I had a meeting with Mr. Dawson in which he told me that he didn't want to purchase the "Educational Associate" position because of the fact that the BCPSS was reassigning employees that work at the Administrative Building into schools and if he purchased the position it would get filled by a random employee of the BCPSS and that I may not get hired. At this point I asked him when he thought the position would be purchased and he said that it might take 2-3 months. I stressed the importance of getting into the office as soon as possible so that I could begin to prepare for the upcoming school year. He said he thought I had been working all summer and I mentioned that I had been in the office periodically during the summer but had not been employed. We decided that the best course of action was to sign the temporary contact that I had signed the previous year for 10 months.

    Mid-July: After signing a 10 month contract that would have had me starting on August 25th, I asked Mr. Grey if I could have my 10 month contract changed to a 12 month contract so that I could begin working earlier that August 25th. He said that he would try to do that. In terms of compensation for those two months, I suggested that we try to keep me at my current pay rate and extend it two more months; Mr. Grey agreed that I should be compensated over those two months. Mr. Grey said that he would speak to Mr. Dawson about it.

    On July, 24th, I went to City to sign a new 12 month contract and found out that they had just used white out to change the dates and had added no extra compensation for the additional two months. I was concerned that just whiting out dates and times could cause problems. I asked to speak to Mr. Dawson and he told me that he wasn't going to give more money to me and that if I expected to be compensated in that way that it wasn't going to happen. He stated that he had already invested $100,000 into that office and he didn’t want to invest more. I stated that the office was worth that compensation. I said that if that was the case I would rather keep the 10 month contract because that personally and professionally I didn't feel that working for free for two months was a smart move. Mr. Dawson's response to that was that it was my decision as to what contract I wanted to sign. I thanked him and told him I would get the contract taken care of right away

    Immediately after that I went to Ms. Legg to have a new contract typed up that would have me as a 10 month employee but that would have me starting on August 4th. My hope was to be in the office as soon as possible. The contract was filled out and signed by myself and Mr. Dawson and Ms. Legg informed me that she would take the contract down to the Administration Building on North Avenue that afternoon.

    On Wednesday, July 30th, I called the Human Resources office at the BCPSS Administrative Building on North Avenue and stated that I was a temporary employee that had a contract submitted and was wondering if I could come down to fill out the appropriate paperwork to begin employment. I had done the exact same thing a year ago and felt that if they had my information I could perhaps begin working on August 4th as stated in my contract. The woman on the other line asked for my name, I stated it was Ethan Percy and she told me that yes I could come down to the Administrative Building and fill out my paperwork. She asked my availability, I stated I could come at that moment and she said how about tomorrow. I was going to be out of town so she told me to come down at 8:30 am on Monday, August 4th.

    On Monday, August 4th at 8:30 am, I arrived at the HR department at the BCPSS Administrative Building and told them that I had been told to arrive at this time to fill out my paperwork. They asked for my name and stated that they had no record of me. They asked me if I had been called and I told them that I had called the previous week and that the woman had asked my name and told me that I could come down to fill out my paperwork. The man then told me to sit tight and that he would check to see where my paperwork was at. He came back and stated that the paperwork was most likely at the Area Office as it had to get approval there first before it came to the HR department. He took my cell phone number and told me he would call me when it arrived.

    On August 4th, Ms. Harcum and I had begun interviewing candidates for the Assistant Director position that was open. We advertised in multiple venues including and (two websites dedicated to College Advising and Admissions professionals.) I had chosen not to advertise on due to the high amount ($400) to post a job. At this point the HR Director of my girlfriend’s company offered to use their account on to search for resumes. I received approximately 15 resumes of which one I chose to pursue. We interviewed two candidates, one on Monday, August 4th and the other on Tuesday, August 5th.

    On August 4th, I wrote an email to Mr. Dawson stating my frustration with the fact that it was August and neither the Director or Assistant Director were employed by the school as of yet. I stated that I had signed my contract but was wondering if he knew of a way to fast track it so I could begin my employment in the school. I also asked if there had been any head way on the current situation of the BCPSS and its hiring situation and if he could see the full time position happening around the 2-3 month timeline that he had given me earlier.

    Both Ms. Harcum and I were very impressed with the second candidate and on Tuesday, August 5th, Ms. Harcum told me to check the candidates references and if they supported the candidate to offer her the position. In the past, Mr. Dawson had never been involved in the interview process to the best of my knowledge. When I interviewed in August 2006 and when we interviewed a candidate last year for the Assistant Director position, he was not involved.

    On Wednesday, August 6th, I checked the candidate's references and planned on offering the position to the candidate on Thursday, August 7th. On Thursday I went to City College to continue working on the office, as I had done all summer, and called the candidate at approximately 2:30 pm to offer her the position. The candidate said that she was confused as Dale Halterman had just called her to schedule a meeting with Mr. Dawson. I told her I had no knowledge of that and apologized for that. Neither Mr. Dawson nor Ms. Halterman had contacted me prior to making that phone call to let me know they would be contacting the candidate.

    On Monday, August 11th, both the candidate and I had meetings with Mr. Dawson that were scheduled at different times. The candidate's meeting was at 1:30. After the meeting, Ms. Halterman brought the candidate to the Office of College Advising so that I could show her the office and talk with her more about the position and what type of role I saw her playing in the office. In that meeting the candidate said that she had been offered the job by Mr. Dawson but would need a few days to think about it. I told her that was completely understandable and gave her my cell phone number in case she had any questions regarding the position.

    At my meeting with Mr. Dawson and Ms. Halterman at 3:00pm on Monday, August 11th, Mr. Dawson first asked me about how I felt about the candidate. I stated that I thought she interviewed extremely well and that her references had great support for her. I felt that she was extremely bright and that she would bring a lot to the table. I felt that her experience working in both the Admission Office and the Dean of Student’s Office at her college would help her in the transition to working with the students of City College. Mr. Dawson stated that he did not like her because when he offered her the job she said she would have to think it over. Mr. Dawson then notified me that it was now protocol through the BCPSS that any position (full-time, temporary or contracted) needed to be put through an interview process and that the job needed to be posted. Even though he had just told me he offered the prospective candidate the Assistant Director’s job, he told me that position would also need to be interviewed for. I asked him what his plans were for the interviews and he said that prospective candidates were already dropping off their resumes. He explained that there would be a panel that would give 15 minute interviews where each candidate would be asked the same questions and a decision would be made based on a point scoring system. I then asked him what I was to do because at that point I had a signed contract from him stating I would be the Director of College Advising for the 08/09 school year at City College. He said that he had pulled that contract from being processed. At this point, for the first and only time, I told Mr. Dawson that I had been offered a job in Boston in the same capacity and that I had turned it down because I wanted to stay at City College and because I had began a multi-year plan that I wanted to carry out and because of the passion I had for the students and how much I enjoyed the faculty and administration. I also stated that I thought there was no better place to work in the country when dealing with type of students that I had the opportunity to work with over the past two years at City College. I stated that I had thought the position was moving toward a full-time position that would allow me to work for the school during the summer and that is why I hadn’t gotten a summer job and why I was confused as to how the process was moving forward. Mr. Dawson stated that he had given me an extra $5,000 in my salary for benefits and I then told Mr. Dawson that it wasn’t about the money or the benefits. I stated that I wasn’t doing this job only for monetary benefits. I did this job because of what it meant to me as a person and for the students of City College. I told him that the main reason for me wanting to become a full time employee was so that I could have job security. I wanted to not have to worry about the temporary contract and I wanted to be able to work year round to give the office that extra push that it needed throughout the summer. I also wanted to begin working on my master’s degree and to enter the Aspiring Leaders Program for Urban Education through Hopkins so that I could improve my ability to help the students of City College. He told me that it was not beneficial to him to hire to full time employees in that office as it would cost him upwards of $50,000 more dollars to have them full-time. I stated that I thought the office was worth that to the school. Mr. Dawson stated that teachers were far more important to the school than the office and that was another reason as to why we weren’t full-time. I stated that though I didn’t disagree with him, it was important that the office be full-time so that we could attract employees that would be interested in staying around longer than one year. I stated that I thought that the Office of College Advising did many things that were similar to that of a teacher and that we were helping the students in many of the same ways. Mr. Dawson stated that he had invested $150,000 into Hall Monitors for the 08/09 school year. I stated that the Office of College Advising wasn’t receiving that much monetary support from City College. I stated that I thought that the Office of College Advising was more important to the students of City College than the hall monitors and Mr. Dawson stated that we were no more important than the hall monitors. I told him that I disagreed with him. I stated that continuity in terms of employees was important for the Office of College Advising and for the students. He stated that this was not important and that kids would get over not having the last person in the office and would learn to like the new employees. I stated that I disagreed with that. Mr. Dawson then stated that it would be easy for him to hire new employees for our office and that he could easily train them himself. I then stated that the office had made significant progress over the past 2 years and that it was headed in the right direction in terms of benefiting the students. At this point Mr. Dawson stated that Ms. Harcum (Assistant Principal) and I had failed at our job of hiring an assistant. I stated that both Ms. Harcum and I were very satisfied with our choice in the hiring of the Assistant Director and it was Mr. Dawson who didn’t like her. He continued to state that Ms. Harcum had failed because I should never be having this type of meeting with him. Because we were having this meeting that meant that someone below him had failed at their job. Mr. Dawson stated that he would speak with Ms. Harcum about this and that if he were to get rid of an Assistant Principal it would just mean that he had another $105,000 to play with in the budget. At this point I stated that he was saying that I had failed this summer by not hiring an Assistant Director though I had in fact not had a contract throughout the summer but had been working at City College almost every other day to ensure that the office would be able to move into the fall semester smoothly. Mr. Dawson reiterated that Ms. Harcum and I had failed at our jobs. At this point the meeting ended and I was told that interviews would be held Friday, August 15th, just 2 days before the school year started.

    On, Friday, August 15th, I interview for the job of Director of College Advising at Baltimore City College High School. On the panel were Mr. Dawson, Ms. Halterman, Ms. Harcum, and Ms. Legg. In the interview I was asked a series of questions that ranged from how I came to City College to Letter of Recommendation writing to Professionalism and the Direction of the Office of College Advising. Mr. Dawson asked just one question at the end of my 10 minute interview and that was to explain why I felt I should be the candidate chosen to run the Office of College Advising for the 08/09 school year.

    In this interview I stated that the professionalism in the office was very high. I stated that I felt students respected the office more than they did some of their classrooms. They did not use their music devices, phones (unless authorized by the office to call a college) and did not curse. They picked up after themselves and respected not only the office but their fellow classmates. As to the direction of the office; I said it was good but that it could and would improve. I stated that steps were made this year but there was more to be done. I stated that a 12 month position for the Director was vital as it allowed for planning to take place over the summer instead of in the fall when the students returned.

    On, Monday, August 18th, I received a phone call at 9am asking that I meet Mr. Dawson in his office at 11am. I arrived at 11am and was seen at 12pm. In this meeting were both Mr. Dawson and Ms. Halterman. Mr. Dawson first stated that I was not the chosen candidate. He mad no mention of that fact that I wasn’t qualified for the position. He said that a woman had come in and blown him away with her experience and that if not for her I would have been the director. He said that he had yet to talk to any of the panel about his decision and he stated that he wanted to try to keep me as part of City College in some capacity because he liked me and my passion. I was never offered a position. He stated that he was just thinking off the top of his head but didn’t know what he was going to do or how it was going to get done. He then asked me what I was thinking. I said that I was crushed. That I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t the chosen candidate as I had been in the office for the past two years and formed hundreds of relationships with students and college representatives. That I had moved the office forward and that a person who is knowledgeable of the position and the school and who had had great success in the office should have been the chosen candidate. Mr. Dawson stated that he didn’t like my answers to the questions about the direction of the school because I had said I was satisfied. I stated that I had not said that and that I had said we had made progress but there was work to be done. Mr. Dawson stated he didn’t like that I was satisfied with the professionalism in the office and I stated that I still believed that the professionalism exhibited in the office was outstanding. He told me not to be crushed because I still may have the opportunity to work with these kids. I stated that I was crushed because I had spent the last two years with these students and this entire summer (while not being compensated) working for the office, preparing the office for the 08/09 school year. I stated that I had been at meetings, exchanged emails, sent out transcripts, advised students, read essays, set up fall high school visits, planned programs for the school year and reorganized the room this summer. Mr. Dawson said that he didn’t think that was the case because I had mentioned in the last meeting that I wasn’t being paid this summer. I stated that regardless of that, I needed to ensure that the office was going to be ready by the fall and if that took working in the summer than that was what needed to happen. I stated that the most important people in this were the kids and that is why regardless of my status this summer I needed to be an active part of the office. I stated that I was upset because what I had started I was not going to be able to see through. I stated that up until the previous Monday, August 11th, that there was no indication that I wasn’t going to be the Director of that office and that this was entirely out of the blue and that was why I was crushed. Mr. Dawson told me to think about what I he had told me and in a couple of days he would call me.

    At 3:42 pm on Monday, August 18th, I received a call from Mr. Dawson in which he stated that he was hoping to try to work with me to find someway for me to work at City College but that he had gotten some upsetting phone calls and emails and that my services would no longer be needed at City College and then asked for me to return my laptop.

  3. Ummm...well...I really have no idea of what you are talking about. I don't have an issue with you posting here, but you might consider some sort of synopsis for those of us not knowing all the players.


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