Help for a Catholic School!

Hello everyone. Let me explain my story a little bit before I ask my question.

This is my 6th year teaching in a small private Catholic School. Two years ago, we received a new principal and pastor/headmaster due to retirement for the previous principal and pastor. Both lacked any experience with their new positions (the priest in regards to being the “head” of the school.) The first year started out great. The staff welcomed them and loved their enthusiasm. After the first half of the year was over, things began to change, communication dwindled from both of them to rest of the school community and even the treatment of people began to decrease. Several teachers brought issues to the principal and pastor in order to be discussed so that things could be fixed, or at the very least, acknowledged. Neither the principal nor the pastor listened to the concerns with open hearts and instead took a defensive approach choosing to more or less ignore the concerns. Eight teachers ended up resigning over the summer. (We are only a PreK-8 school, with one class per grade, so for eight teachers to resign at once was a big deal.)

This year, those of us that still decided to return and have faith for a new year, have witnessed the same problems occurring. Unfortunately, parents and children have begun to lose faith in our administration too. Some parents have tried to go to the principal to be honest with her and hope for resolutions; however, the principal is always full of demeaning comments and ignorance-always on a power trip, if you will. This has caused people to now refrain to go to her to discuss issues. Understandably so, families are looking for other schools for their children, and enrollment is going to drastically drop next year (as it did this year too after the teachers resigning.) Still, the principal and pastor refuse to acknowledge and address the issues that are going on. Our school is diminishing under their very eyes and we need to find help!

The pastor has said that since we are a parish school, that the superintendent for our diocese does not have any say over our school. He has also said that the bishop is powerless over him in regards to the school. He pretty much says that there is nothing anyone can do to get rid of him.

He constantly refers to the hierarchy of a parish school and how we as teachers are under our principal, and that the pastor has full control over the entire school.

Help! Who can we go to that can help us? We’re out of options and no one wants to see the school fall apart or close. I immensely appreciate any ideas that anyone has!

#1 p r a y! seek or make opportunities to be TOGETHER IN PRAYER: with staff, students, supportive parishioners etc. Participating in a tradional structured Catholic prayer–a simple Stations of the Cross, weekday Masses, or rosary–bring hearts together where the focus is Jesus, and let Him do what only He can do!

You don’t say what ‘problems’ are going on in the school, so I will refrain from commenting on that.

Regarding what you can do, call the diocesan office of Catholic schools and write or call your bishop and let them know what is going on. Regardless of what your pastor seems to believe, the bishop very much does have authority over his pastors and schools.

Successful schools should be everyone’s priority, and so I’m not sure what the principal and pastor accomplish by alienating their parents, teachers, and students.

What action the diocese takes or doesn’t take will really depend upon what these problems you refer to really are. Hard to say without knowing.

Contact the bishop and the vicar of education at the diocesan level. They can help you.

Is there a school board in place? Many times in a private school the school board is advisory in nature, meaning there is little “voting”, but it should be a place where parents/students/parishioners can go to voice concerns.

Good luck!

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