Teachers unions speak out about alleged sexual misconduct, toxic culture involving McKinley high principal

Teachers unions speak out about alleged sexual misconduct, toxic culture involving McKinley high principal
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Representatives with the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spoke out Tuesday afternoon with complaints against the principal of McKinley High School.

The organizations say Dr. Esrom Pitre “rules with intimidation” and a “culture of retaliation.”

Union members are demanding an investigation into the principal. According to a survey the unions conducted, in which about 30 percent of employees at the school responded, teachers are complaining about sexual misconduct, a toxic working environment, and other issues involving the principal.

Those union presidents now say it’s time for new leadership at the school based on the number of allegations that have surfaced from the teachers they represent.

“I think he needs to leave," said Angela Reams-Brown, president of the EBR Federation of Teachers.

“Absolutely,” Dr. Tia Mills, president of the EBR Association of Educators agreed. “We don’t condone that in no way, shape, or form. I’m fully against retaliation against employees.”

Dr. Pitre took over in 2018 and is the third principal at the school since 2016. The complaints against him though, are piling up and these leaders say it’s making those who work for him uncomfortable.

"Imagine waking up every morning and not wanting to go to your job because you don’t know what you’re going to experience when you get there,” said Brown.

Union leaders call the complaints they have uncovered from an anonymous survey at the school shocking. One teacher claims that Pitre “hugs me and draws my body into his. It’s not a professional way to hug someone and I hate it.”

Another alleges they caught Pitre watching a student dance class one day and alleges “Pitre was so busy looking at the girls lustfully that he didn’t realize I stepped into the room.”

One more of the dozens of complaints alleges the principal is just downright unfair, alleging “one teacher is untouchable no matter what she does or does not do. Some teachers have been given promotions or have been excused for behavior that others are written up for.”

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) has released a statement about the allegations, asking any employees with complaints to come forward to file formal grievances with the school board’s human resources department.

The full statement reads:

“The East Baton Rouge Parish School System values its employees and urges anyone with a grievance or complaint to file a formal report with the Human Resources department. All formal allegations made will be investigated. We will continue to act in the best interest of our students, families and employees.”

Leaders with the unions now say enough is enough and now demand that the school system survey every teacher at McKinley before school ends Thursday, May 23.

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked them if they believe there’s enough time for that survey to take place.

“Actually we do,” Reams-Brown replied. “The last few days of the school year are half days so the district could actually go in tomorrow and take that survey.”

It’s a crucial time for McKinley as the school faces a decline in enrollments and a failing performance score, but now the union representatives believe fixing those issues begins at the top.

“We feel like McKinley is being unjustly served,” said Reams-Brown.

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