Uwe Neuhaus gave his Chamblee Charter High School students assignments where they were supposed to act out racy skits with a partner. The teacher was placed on leave as the district investigated the assignment, but has since returned.
Parents banded together to save his job. In that process, the floodgates opened on allegations that new Chamblee Principal Rebecca Braaten rules with an iron fist, using retaliation and tough talk and creating a toxic environment where about a half dozen staffers have left the school in recent weeks.
Parents, students and others spoke Monday during the DeKalb County Board of Education’s monthly meeting about the issues at the school, hoping district leaders would step in and address the concerns.
DeKalb County School District officials said they are investigating the allegations.
“These are important concerns and (DeKalb County School District) will work with all parties to resolve them in a constructive and effective manner,” the district said in a statement sent via email. “As such, the regional superintendent and school leaders will be reviewing appropriate information and meeting with stakeholders in the coming days with the goal of addressing the concerns to the benefit of students and staff.”
Efforts to reach Braaten were not successful.
Among the allegations against the principal are calling police on a teacher and having him subjected to a breathalyzer, and rigging a school vote for teacher of the year.
Teachers said in a letter to parents and others that Braaten has threatened teachers' jobs, often reminding them that their contracts are with the county, not the school. During her first staff meeting in August, teachers said she told them "you'll find out real quick that I don't play, and I will light you up."
Jean Cowan, whose son is a Chamblee student, said during Monday’s meeting that she was concerned parents were not made aware of any issues throughout the school year.
“My son would come home and say ‘the new principal did this’ and ‘ the new principal is doing that,’ but we never got official notification,” she said. “It was all speculation and rumor. But tenured (staff) is hemorrhaging, and if this goes on much longer, this school will be a shell of its former self.”
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Credit: Miguel Martinez & Seth Wenig