Principal Who Called Special Needs Student a ‘Psychopath’ Is a Big Bully

OMG 31

school hallSticks and stones may break your bones, but some words might get you canned. That's the lesson an Oxford, Pennsylvania high school principal learned after allegedly calling a student with bipolar disorder a "psychopath."

Apparently, during a meeting with the special needs student and his mother, Dr. David Madden was caught sending a text message in which he called the kid a "psychopath" and that he was worried this student would become another "Hinckley, Booth, or Oswald."

Further investigation revealed he may have also called the kid "the biggest accident waiting to happen" and "the inspiration for the CSI show on school killing sprees ..." in an email.

Now I have no idea what this principal has been dealing with when it came to this particular child. Madden may have been at his wits' end. And he is human and completely entitled to a personal opinion. But given his position, that was not an appropriate thing to do, especially in the middle of a meeting with a parent.

This kind of insensitivity is appalling, especially for a school administrator. Special needs kids require a great deal of patience and understanding and they need staff who are able to provide that.

An even bigger issue? He is the leader of that school and as such sets the tone others follow. Nasty remarks like that can suggest to other teachers it's OK to make snide, hurtful comments as well. After all, if the boss does it, why can't they. And what about the students. If the principal calls this kid names, doesn't it give bullies the green light to do it too?

Ultimately the school board decided to reinstate Madden with one condition -- he can no longer work with special needs students. Stories like this should be a warning to all parents -- not just those with special needs kids. We need to watch the messages and behaviors our children pick up from everyone in their lives. Clearly bad influences can come from adults as well as peers.

Do you think this principal did anything wrong?


Image via zalouk webdesign/Flickr

behavior, bullies, school

31 Comments

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the4m... the4mutts

He shouldn't have been txting durring a meeting. But no. As long as he doesn't say it TO the student, or put it on a public forum like facebook, then I think this is an invasion of his privacy. If he treats the student equally, then his opinion doesn't matter. And who knows? He might be RIGHT.

He can think and say whatever he wants.

If he hadn't been "caught" then this wouldn't have effected anyone.

right... rightside

It was inappropriate for him to be texting during the meeting, which already makes me think he's a jerk.  But as far as the content of the text, it depends on who he was texting.  If it was other teachers at the school, then yes, it's a problem - that kind of leadership doesn't belong in schools.  If it was his personal opinion expressed to his wife or a friend, then fine, he's entitled to an opinion.  Though any teacher who thinks that sort of thing about a student with a mental illness is probably not very good at his job and  has no business educating kids..

fleur... fleurdelys3110

the4mutts- you are absolutely correct. Yes, it was incredibly wrong for the principal to be texting DURING the meeting, and the way he expressed his opinion was a little crass. But he is entitled to have one. Dr. Madden is the principal, and his job and primary concern is to be concerned for the safety of all of his students, not the feelings of one parent. If the principal feels the kid is a danger to his school, then he should be allowed to say so without be crucified.

nonmember avatar AI

The second article linked implies that he expressed this opinion in work emails to other faculty since they were discovered after records regarding the student were subpoenaed. The superintendent wanted him fired, but the board saved his job. He was influencing the other faculty with his opinion, and I feel that's rather irresponsible. The boy has a mental illness that limits his social skills, that doesn't make him a future serial killer. As a person with the same illness, I would feel intimidated, hurt, and insulted if such opinions about me were expressed behind my back among the very people meant to protect my well being. The ridiculous fear people have if those with mental illnesses is what makes it so difficult to function in society. The shock people get when I tell them, as if someone with bipolar disorder could never be so "normal". If people stopped assuming that everyone with a mental illness was some kind of "psychopath", it would make things so much better.

nonmember avatar Mommymember

He shouldn't have been texting during a meeting, BUT what he said? Not nice, but fine by me as long as he wasn't saying it directly to the kid or his parents. If the kid had given him reason to believe that he may be a future violent threat, then it is what it is. If he had felt and said these things honestly and was caught after the kids shot up the school everyone would be holding his feet to the fire wondering why the man didn't do more to protect the other students if he had a hunch there was something wrong.

StarC... StarCarrillo

I honestly believe there is no reason to disrespect ANY child! Just because he is special needs doesnt give anybody the right to put him down in any way! Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when it comes to a child those thoughts need to be kept to yourself!

the4m... the4mutts

I have one other comment. Since when is being bi-polar, "special needs"?

Bi-polar people need meds and CAN be prone to violence. We don't see what it is that prompted this statement(s)

Also, I seriously doubt that the teachers hadn't noticed the kid was acting up.

Heather Duso Johnson

4mutts - It's probably special needs so the school can get more money.  Honestly,  I just looked your question up and many of the items to facilitate a good environment for these kids should be used on ALL students.   Smaller classrooms, allowed to go to bathroom or nurse as needed, allowed to have water bottle in class, etc. 

nonmember avatar ambear

@4mutts Why do you feel the need to add your two cents in onto 95% of these articles?? I have never seen someone comment as regularly as you

Joyce Stafford

Have you ever met an unmediated bipolar person in one of there 'episodes'? They ARE freakin psychopaths! And sense he didn't add the kids name, or say it to them I don't see the problem, it's his opinion. We are still allowed to have those aren't we? Or have you Nazi's banned those as well?

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