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A Teacher Battle

AppleA Teacher Battle

Broward County Public School veteran teacher recounts story of bullying and harassment by administrators and the district

By Nichole Richards

(Part 2 of a 3 Part Series)

Dr. Bentley was used to new principals. Surplused a number of times throughout her career (a status given when the number of teachers exceeds the number needed or than can be afforded), she was transferred to multiple schools in different neighborhoods and under different administrations. Some were excellent fits and her expertise was valued, such as when she was appointed by principal of Millennium Middle School, Dr. Cheryl Cendan, to serve on the school’s leadership team. Others were traumatizing.

According to Bentley, she was a victim of two years of emotional and racial bullying at West Broward High School, a 9-12 institution located in Pembroke Pines under the leadership of Teresa Hall. Bentley recounted her shocking story of workplace trauma that destroyed her career and professional life.

“I soon as I got there, I recognized things were off,” Bentley began, “The Athletic department was unorganized. I just wanted to bring order to it.”

According to Bentley, the department lacked curricula, lesson plans, and appropriate physical education equipment. She also noticed a severe lack of supervision by the school’s Athletic Director, James Darr.

“He would be in his office and leave the students unsupervised in the gym.” Bentley said, “I was really concerned about that.”

Her concern heightened when she noticed the girls’ locker room lacked security, leaving girls vulnerable to the possibility of boys and male teachers entering.

“I worried about the safety of the young girls,” Bentley said, “As the only female physical education teacher it is my priority to make sure the girls are safe. West Broward High School hadn’t had a female PE teacher in a while and I thought that in itself was an issue.” According to their website, West Broward High School still does not have a female PE teacher.

It was when Dr. Bentley voiced these concerns to Principal Teresa Hall that the bullying began. She found rope in her desk, footprints on the floor of her office, and was subject to verbal abuse, harassment, and humiliation in front of her co-workers and her students.

“I was never really welcomed there by the athletic director,” Bentley claimed, “And then, in trying to do the right thing by the kids, I ended up being blackballed by the principal. I was yelled at, belittled, and harassed on a daily basis.”

Dr. Bentley’s mistreatment became so out of control that the children noticed it. Her students would confide in her with their complaints. One group of students even revealed to Dr. Bentley about overhearing discussions between administration and security on setting her up to appear she had stolen athletic equipment. She was then banned from the equipment room as a PE teacher.

Some members of the school’s security team took note of the harassment and started speaking up in support of Dr. Bentley.

“I wrote emails to administration expressing my concerns.” Harvey Thomas, then West Broward High School’s Head of Security, said, “I was concerned about the bullying tactics and mistreatment of Yvonne. It wasn’t fair.”

Coincidently, after voicing his concerns, Thomas found himself mired in his own scandal where a student claimed he manhandled him during an altercation. Despite 10 statements from students that claimed the contrary (the statements strangely disappeared), Thomas was terminated. Another security personnel who supported Dr. Bentley, Allen Moore, was also mysteriously terminated. Dr. Bentley believes they were targeted because they were trying to protect her and speak against the mistreatment.

“I was starting to become concerned about my own safety.” Dr. Bentley stated

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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