Education — February 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm

UPDATED: Life under an EAA principal: “Any teachers who allow students in the hallway shall receive a formal letter of reprimand”


NOTE: In the comments of this post and another one titled “An EAA teacher elaborates on the treatment of special ed students: ‘These kids deserve so much better'”, there are multiple comments from the same person, making it look as if there more supporters of Nolan school principal Angela Underwood than there really are. The comments are from one of two computers and give the same email address (which only I can see) but are posted with a different name. One of the computers is a Detroit Public Schools computer which has visited Eclectablog many times over the past week, almost exclusively on posts where Angela Underwood is mentioned. This commenter has posted under the names “Lets Be Real”, “Pepsi Cola”, “Yours Truly, Pepsi Cola”, “Sundra”, and “Pro Children Not Politics”. I have banned this person because of this.

We’ve heard a lot from EAA teachers about the constant threat of being “written up” by EAA administrators. Just to give you a flavor of what they are dealing with, here’s an email sent by one principal to their staff. I’m not revealing the school for obvious reasons:

Subject: Students in Hallway During Sight [sic] Visits


Every time, before any visitors come to our building, I send out a very detailed email or memo stating that absolutely no students are to be sent to the restroom or in the hallways for any reason. Despite this directive, several teachers today allowed students to go to the restroom or sent them to the office for minor behavior infractions. Please understand that this email serves as a warning that if in the future, any teachers who allow students in the hallway after being given such a directive by me shall receive a formal letter of reprimand to be placed in his or her personnel file. If you need further clarification about procedures which are to be followed while visitors are in the building, please see me before the end of the day.

Life under a dictator. It must be debilitating.

P.S. And yes, as Rebecca notes in the comments, this “educator” spelled ‘site’ wrong in the Subject line of their email.

UPDATE: Here is another email sent to EAA teachers at one school. This one is particularly outrageous because the principal puts themselves in charge of determining whether or not something is worthy of being reported to Child Protective Services. Training is one thing, screening is completely another.


Please be advised and reminded about this past summer’s P.D. [Ed. note: “professional development”] in which no hotline reports may be made unless first cleared by either me or [name redacted]. There may be extenuating circumstances in which something appears to be a hotline situation, and it is not. If this is the case, your careless actions could be devastating, or even detrimental to the child and family. In addition, in order for a hotline report to be legitimate, the person making the call must not do this based on hearsay, and must personally observe abuse, its result, or hear about the potential for alleged abuse from the victim him or herself. Failure to follow this procedure will ultimately result in employees receiving severe disciplinary action, up to termination of employment. If you are unclear about what is considered potential abuse and/or a behavior mandating hotline, or you are unclear about my procedure for making a hotline call, please see [name redacted] or myself immediately.

[Facepalm CC image credit: Alex Proimos | Flickr]

  • Rebecca Martusewicz

    Is this a direct quote from an administrative email? Note that “site” is misspelled! This email serves as strong evidence in support of what many of these teachers have been describing as dog and pony shows when outside visitors are in these schools. No students in hallways? Even to go to the bathroom? What are they worried about?

    • Good catch, Rebecca! Yes, I cut and pasted this directly out of a forwarded email.
      What are they worried about? That people will look behind the scenes of their Potemkin village.

      • Rebecca Martusewicz

        Of course. I was being rhetorical….It’s just outrageous, isn’t it???

  • qbeezy

    Fun fact. By state law, anyone who works in a school, from principal down to the janitor, is a mandatory reporter. Meaning that they are required by law to report suspected child abuse, in school, in the home, at Walmart, anywhere in the state of Michigan they witness abuser. If they do not then they are in violation of the law. It is also against the law for an administrator to threaten disciplinary actionaction or termination of employment from reporting. This memo is against the law as even the memo could be seen aaa form of discipline. This is sent as a means of looking the other way and not dealing with a “family problem” in school.

    • Who should it be reported to. I can provide the email.

      • qbeezy

        855-444-3911. Schools might have a special number to call. I am not familiar with that. To summarize the actual child protection law: Certain people including teachers , counselors, and school administrators who has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect shall make immediately a report of the suspected child abuse or neglect to the department. The reporting person shall notify the person in charge of his or her finding and that the report has been made (NOTICE THIS SAYS THAT A REPORT HAS BEEN MADE NOT NOTIFY BEFORE A REPORT IS MADE), and shall make a copy of the written report available to the person in charge. A notification to the person in charge does not relieve the member of the staff of the obligation of reporting to the department as required by this section. A person shall not be dismissed or otherwise penalized for making a report required by this act or for cooperating in an investigation.

        • judyms9

          At the administration’s next professional development session DHS Director Maura Corrigan could be invited to explain to the principals why they should not be conduits or assessors of information that is firsthand to teachers or other shool personnel. CPS investigators want contact with those who have direct, make that direct, knowledge of actual or threatened abuse or neglect of a child. Delays in contacting the DHS while principals make assessments without the authority to do so could prove dangerous for some kids.
          Good to point this out qbeezy. Everything you say is correct. And if teachers are fearful of reprisals, they can call in a complaint anonymously from home if need be.

  • Jamie Buchanan

    In case anybody wondered why teachers would want to be in a union, you’ve provided a couple of great examples.

    • TeacherPattiS

      Why most people need unions!

  • Rochelle Noel

    Teachers are mandated reporters and are violating the law if they don’t report suspected child abuse. By law, they don’t have to witness it, they only have to suspect it. The penalties include fines and/or imprisonment if they fail to report.

    “Mandated reporters are required to make an immediate verbal report to
    CPS and a written report within 72 hours when they suspect child abuse
    or neglect. Mandated reporters must also notify the head of their
    organization of the report. Reporting the suspected allegations of child
    abuse and/or neglect to the head of the organization does not fulfill
    the requirement to report directly to DHS.”

    “Mandated reporters, who fail to file a report of suspected child
    abuse or neglect, will be subject to both civil and criminal liability.
    In a civil action, the mandated reporter may be held liable for all
    damages that any person suffers due to the mandated reporter’s failure
    to file a report. In a criminal action, the mandated reporter may be
    found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93
    days and a fine of $500.”,4562,7-124-7119_50648_44443-157836–,00.html

  • Kathy Mayo

    Silly me! And I thought school was for kids!… This is preposterous!!

  • Erin Zettle

    This is making me sick. I work in the abuse and neglect field from a legal perspective, and teachers absolutely need to be free to trust their gut, watch for warning signs, and report what they suspect to CPS without ANY intrusion on their decision making process. Yes, a report to CPS can be devastating, but that is why there is a court process in place, including representation for parents. What is much more devastating is a child being seriously injured or killed because some bureaucrat decided that there needed to be yet another level to the process. This feels like a deliberate misstatement of the law, and it makes me very curious as to why.

  • Sundra

    It is hard for me to believe ALL of what I have read is true. I have seen and heard situations taken completely out of context. Every principal wants to present well in front of parents, staff, other administrators, visitors, etc. I cannot imagine any
    teacher not allowing students to NOT go to the bathroom. Possibly a group of
    students needed to “use it” (the bathroom phrase of the year) and
    there wasn’t an adult to escort them at that precise minute during the site
    (not sight) visit. I have never seen/heard a child denied using the restroom, and IF that ever happened, parents would be very upset. Also, I’ve seen a few sensitive teachers that have difficulty accepting constructive criticism. Granted I was not present at the time these EAA teachers were dissatisfied, so I do not know what incident lead up to any specific principal/teacher interaction. When researching a story, it would be nice to get the input of all sides, and not use exaggerations, rumors, and hearsay as facts.

    • You may choose to believe what you wish. I have a copy of the original email. This isn’t “hearsay”.

    • Also, posting multiple comments under different names which you have done makes me question YOU.

      • TeacherPattiS

        Yes, one would think that the parents would be upset. But consider that not all kids run home and tell their parents things…even things that we would presume they would. Also remember that parents may not be around, may not care or may not be motivated to do anything about it (for various reasons including feeling disempowered or being addicted or being on the run from something, etc). For instance, when I taught at DPS I was a “push in” special ed teacher for a 6th grade class. The 6th grade teacher was absent at least one day every week, sometimes two or three, once in awhile four. I have no idea how she got away with this but it was what it was. (Rumor was that she had a drinking problem…if so, I hope she got help because she was a nice person). Anyway, the classroom aide ended up teaching the class and I taught them math (on one of the days she was there, the teacher sat at the front of the room with the 6th grade math book and said, “We will have to learn this together because I don’t know this.”). I would say that the “real” teacher was not there at least 1/3 of the time, probably more. I got along great with the kids and asked what their parents had to say about this. Most of the kids kind of shrugged and many said they hadn’t even talked about it at home.

        So point being that little upper middle class suburban TeacherPatti would have dashed home to tell Mom and Dad about her absent teacher would have had a conniption fit but that doesn’t mean this is true across the board.

      • Pro Children Not Politics

        I don’t know how educated you may be in technology, but FYI multiple people can use the same URL! Again make sure that you have evidence to support your accusations! Oh and don’t be so quick to post about subjects that you are prematurely judging!

        • So it was different people using the same computer and same email address but different names? That strains credibility, my friend!

          Are you stating as fact that you did not post comments using different names?

          • Pro Children Not Politics

            Since you are the master of checking URL’S you tell me!

  • Supportive Colleague Food Serv

    I am a current staff member with the office of food services. Which is in partnership with EAA and Mrs. Underwood and have been for a few years. I personally disagree with the issues being brought upon our Principal. I have never heard or observed any wrong doing from her or any of our lead staff. On top of that her child is also a student here at Nolan. These emails are false I bet the ones posting them are bitter and frustrated about not coming back to Nolan. Think about it!

  • Current Colleague

    OMG, I am a current employee of the EAA and work with Mrs. Underwood and have also received the very same emails that have been posted above. These emails are completely taken out of context. If Mrs.. Underwood actually didn’t allow students to go to the bathroom during visits, I’m sure she’d have an office full of angry parents….including herself because her son attends Nolan. She of course wanted students to be accompanied by an adult for supervision not only during visits but throughout the school day for safety purposes and organization. If this was not in place then the school would be out of control with students roaming the halls and unsupervised. As for the other email, past practice and protocol in any organization for that matter is to report any and all incidents to management prior to going public so that management is fully aware of what’s going on in any situation and in this case her building. I can’t believe that so many people are posting ridiculous things and don’t even know the magnitude of what principals go through with so many demands. It sounds to me like the people complaining need to be validated….. which is why a year later you are posting these statements. You need to spend your time looking for a job and not on blogs and if you’re employed you need to get a life and grow up.

    • Pro Education

      I’m sorry but I know numerous people that worked at Nolan and yes children did have accidents because of this rule. Not only is all of this true, but the fact that you work there still and will deny the messed up methods of the EAA is disturbing. I met Angela underwood the first summer the EAA invaded Detroit and I’m sorry but the moment I met her while helping clean up Nolan as a volunteer, I knew she was not going to be a success. She was unorganized, rude and literally told us to throw out all learning material because she explained that the curriculum would be online. To bad the whole building didn’t not get internet connection until November (I have read an email from Underwood proving this). All of the interviews are true. I’m an outsider so I have no agenda besides the truth. I’ve read emails that would make your skin crawl. Should her most recent email yelling at teachers about being upset about an infestation bed bugs be posted?? Seriously realize who you are defending.

    • Pro Education

      Also defending any circumstance in which ANY child may have an accident is disgusting. You should know that as an educator.

  • sheri stovall

    The people who have time to post false information about Mrs. Underwood, need a vacation and reflect on how miserable their life is. So I’m taking the liberty of sending you on one, see attachment below. Enjoy and leave my favorite principal alone. I am at Nolan all the time and I enjoy being up their. I never volunteer when it was DPS. Nolan is being ran in a AWESOME way. Maybe if you were a God fearing person, you wouldn’t be spreading all this negativity. LAMES

  • Thankful

    Chris, Thank you for letting us know when people comment with various names and the SAME URL. It sure helps to keep perspective and validate or invalidate the comments. I am a new follower of your blog, as well as a teacher and I am totally amazed and outraged at what I have read in the last two weeks.
    Keep up the good work.

  • MGoBlue

    I am loving all these people who Angela is getting to write for her. I laugh because its clearly all from the same two people. also, her son goes there because she said and i quote “i’m tired of paying for after school care” and she pulls her son out in the summer and sends her to her sister so he doesn’t have to be in school during the summer. how convenient! Angela, please tell me how it feels to sink so low you are hiding behind anonymous comments and having people do your dirty work. According to teachers still there, you haven’t left your office in days and have said you cant wait to “leave the school because people in Michigan are crazy”

  • Business Manager C.Hayes

    I have had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Underwood for the past few months (and let me be crystal clear, I was not asked or forced pretending to the comments that I am about to make). What I have seen in her character because this is basically what this is boiling down to, is far from what is being depicted from the former EAA-Nolan employees. After reading the attacks on “Angela” I am sure that people will always hide behind the monitor of the computer and will always feel like what they are saying is important. Well the bottom line is this, she is a great principal, I have worked for a few with being in education and she rally’s behind her staff even when they don’t know she is. Born and raised in DETROIT I have the right to speak on things that are going on in the school system with our babies. Most people run from the city yet Mrs. Underwood and those who work in the communities that the EAA schools are located in embrace the challenge. You all want to speak on emails and hotline calls but yet your not saying anything worth reading. As a principal or a leader over anything you have a chain of commands. To me as I read the blogs its seems as if we have a whole bunch of haters that act as if they could do a better job then what Mrs. Underwood is doing. I would love to see you try…dealing with the daily work of her position as well as the daily occurrences that come up with staff, students and parents/guardians its not a 9 to 5 job. Someone mentioned that she stays in her office, well that is clearly a lie, I see her more out pulling carts, in the lunch room doing lunch duty or outside assisting with students then anything else. Frankly, I have to catch her when I need something because her office is usually the last place she can be found. If you choose to speak on someone and flaw their character at least make it worth while. After all is said and done and as I tell my children “if someone is speaking on you that means they have nothing else better to do and you are extremely important to them”. So basically Mrs. Underwood is the best principal/Person ever cause with so much talk on her she has to be doing something worth talking about. Good talk or bad talk its all them same cause it all becomes a topic of conversation… bad mouthing her will get her nothing but noticed.

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