Crofton Middle teachers call chief 'abrasive' Union details complaints in letter to new principal

October 01, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County sent a letter to Crofton Middle School Principal Richard Berzinski last week telling him: "Your management style, which [teachers] perceive as unnecessarily abrasive, is a serious concern."

Serious enough that 37 of the school's 65 teachers went to a two-hour meeting Sept. 25 at Crofton Public Library to discuss what's been going on at the 964-student school since Berzinski took over in June.

The examples were harsh. Berzinski chastises teachers in front of other teachers and staff members and engages in "loud, angry and intimidating behavior" in private conferences, too, according to a letter that Bill Jones, a union representative, mailed to Berzinski late last week.

"The most consistent complaint among the staff was that they do not perceive any professional respect from their principal," the letter says, adding that Berzinski's tone and comments "have led to a quite hostile work environment."

A well-placed official who attended the meeting confirmed that teachers discussed Berzinski's purported demand that hourly-wage employees work at Back-to-School Night last month although they might not receive pay for it, and that he insisted some male teachers wear ties in the classrooms or be sent home.

"We don't have anything in the contract that requires ties," said John R. Kurpjuweit, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. But the contract does not say anything about how principals treat staff, he said.

"It looks like the teachers at Crofton Middle, if they don't now, will soon start hating going to work," Kurpjuweit said. "And it doesn't need to be that way."

Berzinski was a principal at Four Seasons Elementary School in Gambrills until June, and replaces Walter Bruso, who retired at the end of the 1996-1997 school year.

Some parents say Berzinski, who could not be reached last night for comment, has improved the school by making hallways safer, by requiring students to treat faculty with more respect and by making them do more homework.

Pub Date: 10/01/97

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