Ryan MS Principal Says He Is Not Racist or Sexist or Anti-Gay No Matter What HISD Says

Categories: Education

ryanms020411.jpg
Showing Invictus to staffers?
Ryan Middle School Principal Michael McKenzie, who was supposed to be among Houston ISD's best and brightest, told faculty and staff that he "preferred a black male" for the assistant principal's position, said that a male employee "should not be with children because he is openly gay" and "used profanity on two separate occasions -- 'bitch' and 'motherfucker' during a teacher in-service -- according to an internal HISD investigation.

The investigation by the district's Equal Employment Opportunity office determined that McKenzie, who is African American, was not only racist and sexist and ridiculed students at the Third Ward school, but was arrogant as well, and Chief Middle School Officer Dallas Dance has written him a letter of reprimand saying one more time and he's fired.

McKenzie insists the district got it wrong and has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He says the HISD case is built on hearsay and misinformation and stems from employees not willing to embrace the needed amount of change he brings to the troubled Ryan school. He denies that he is racist, telling Hair Balls: "My youngest son -- his mother is white."

The 34-year-old (his birthday is today) says he knew when he moved to Ryan from an assistant principalship at Waller-TSU Prep, an external charter, he needed to show "tough love" to turn the school around. He maintains he walked into a buzzsaw -- unlike other Apollo 20 principals brought in, he says he wasn't allowed to name his own counselors or assistant principal and the ones he inherited were tied to his predecessor, who'd been removed from the school the year before.

"This school was comfortable for adults, it wasn't for the kids. If you wanted to sit down and not teach, that's fine," McKenzie said.

In regards to the first complaint against him, filed on August 20, 2010, by a former Ryan employee who alleged race and disability discrimination and retaliation, HISD "confirmed" the allegations, even though McKenzie denied them. According to the investigation, McKenzie:

-- "Took the employee's furniture from her office to use in your office even though you were informed it was the employee's personal furniture. When told that it was her personal furniture, you responded, "'I don't care; it is mine now.'"

-- "Made it clear to all your staff members that you wanted black staff members in leadership positions because you felt the students responded better to black staff."

-- "Showed movie clips of Boyz n the Hood and Invictus to your staff which several members found offensive."

-- "Referenced the employee's absence from work due to a medical disability in a threatening manner."

McKenzie said he wasn't aware the furniture belonged to the employee and when he found out, the employee was able to retrieve it. He denied that he stated that blacks should be in the leadership positions because of student response.

He says he showed the movie clips to try to instill in his staff the kind of world the Ryan students live in. He says he also had them walk to the Cuny Homes housing development two miles away. "I want us to walk so we can see what our students walk through, to show them what these kids have to walk through every day on their way to school."

Investigators also confirmed the allegations in the second complaint, filed September 2, 2010 alleging race and gender discrimination, by a current Ryan employee. Besides the gay comment and the profanity at in-service, according to investigators, McKenzie:

-- "Told the employee not to do discipline because you 'preferred a black man to do the discipline regardless of the race of the student' "

-- "Told your faculty and staff on August 9, 2010 that you 'preferred a black male' for the assistant principal position but since you could not get the one you wanted, you 'settled for a black female.' This statement was confirmed by individuals you asked to be interviewed."

-- "Attempted to reassign the current assistant principal to another position; however, when the employee did not sign the 'Voluntary Acceptance' form, you changed all of the administrative job functions for the individual."

-- "Stated that if a specific teacher went on medical leave he 'will be falling on his own sword.' This was said knowing the teacher has a serious medical illness."

-- "Reprimanded the employee very openly in the front office in front of office workers."

-- "Ridiculed the students and made derogatory comments to them in front of others."

McKenzie denied saying he preferred a black man to handle discipline and said that when he expressed a preference for a person to be assistant principal, he was talking about a specific person who he was unable to hire for the position. He denied saying he "settled" for a black female.

According to McKenzie, his assistant principal did not want to do the discipline part of the job and agreed to a reassignment where that wouldn't be part of her duties. He denied the profanity, the public reprimand and making the sword statement.

McKenzie told Hair Balls that he has community backing because he's brought discipline to the school and demanded and received a higher level of teacher performance. "They see that our kids aren't hanging on a corner. They're not walking home trashing people's yards."

"Our reading scores increased the most out of all the Apollo schools. We have the most reduction in discipline cases. Our attendance has improved."

In his letter to McKenzie, Dance wrote, "As I shared with you, one theme was constant with your staff: They agree with and believe in your vision for the school. It is your 'approach' and 'abrasive demeanor' that is intimidating to your staff."

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26 comments
MICK LE FREE
MICK LE FREE

I believe he was removed from a special ed. dept. chair assignment at long m,.s. before he was rediscovered and said to be so wonderful......

tamtam
tamtam

The biggest problem with all of this is that it could have been avoided. If HISD would have bothered to call the principal at Long Middle School for a reference. See, Mr. McKenzie was a principal at Long a couple of years ago. He had to quit before he got fired. I won't share the details; but let's just say, he was proven to be completely unethical then.

For 3rdward Students
For 3rdward Students

I watched McKenzie take jacket from a student this morning in the below freezing weather because it was red with a large polo pony on it. I understand the need for rules, but this is a school where most students have one jacket and can't afford more than one. McKenzie's attitude is superior, self righteous, and pompous. The children are either afraid of him or to the point they want to fight him.

Chad Thompson 8th grader
Chad Thompson 8th grader

He makes several racial remarks to the Hispanic kid at the school. I feel like he shoulda been out. He curses at kids and staff

bunghole
bunghole

I go to school there he told us at a hall sweep that he only took the job for the 45000 extra or some money like that-The Truth

guest
guest

I know for a fact that the educators who work at Ryan feel undervalued and disrespected on a day to day basis. He speaks down to adults as if they are his children or students at the school. Majority of these students come from tough backgrounds where yelling will not get through to them, calling them a whimps or a punk is definitely not helping their feelings McKenzie. When students are misbehaving staff is told "to handle it" and not to send the student out of the room. He is wrong in stating that Ryan is an ‘adult-driven’ school. It would be right to state that Michael McKenzie is a ‘money-driven man’. Students are told to come to school sick until ADA (official attendance) time to be counted for monetary purposes. When a student raised his hand to ask “what if I have pink eye” McKenzie had no plausible answer. The discipline used at Ryan is unimpressionable. Students who fight are simply sent to In School Suspension so their attendance will still be counted. This is a school where cursing out adults, threatening other students, bullying, and blatant disrespect is tolerated for fear of losing a few dollars. It is very interesting to see this entire positive outlook for Ryan coming from a mini- man who did not attend his own school’s Open House. I just hope and pray that the school receives a better educator and leader who is geared toward them seeing life as a bigger picture- college, careers (not just I want to own a Cadillac Escalade like McKenzie), and life- long dreams and goals. Pray for the children they need it far more than the adults.

independenthou
independenthou

Mckenzie was a bad hire. Since he started at Ryan, he's been accused of racism, sexism, homophobia etc. You know what they say "where there's smoke there's fire" in other words its true. This guy has been and remains a problem. He doesn't appear to be qualified to be a principal. Whenever I talk to someone at Ryan about him the discussion is always the same, incompetence, unprofessional conduct, creating a hostile environment, poor leadership skills, poor management and organizational skills and on and on. The only thing Mckenzie has done is prove to everyone that he should never have been put in a postion of authority. Its bad for the staff and worse for the students that he is drawing a salary in HISD.

Black and Blue
Black and Blue

So blacks can be racist too ...... I'm shocked and sadened, I've never heard of such a thing.I thought it was only us White Devils, well that's what Quannell said I know he's only doing what he can to better the just black cause.

OFields
OFields

In typical Michael McKenzie fashion, he lies and twist the truth to try to cover his racist and sexist views. In "typical abusive" fashion, Mr. McKenzie paints himself as a victim in every situation. The true victims here are the students who finally had a school and staff they trust and who believed in them and was then taken away by a poorly thought out Apollo 20 program. The true victims here are the educators who through hard work and sacrifice brought Ryan Middle School from a state label of "unacceptable" to reaching 4 tenths of a point from "commended" in a two year period of time. These are the same educators that were told by Mr. McKenzie they had lost their positions because "they couldn't relate to the community". HISD needs to act swiftly to protect the students, parents, and educators that are still suffering under the delusional leadership of Michael McKenzie.

Guest
Guest

Yo McKenzie, sounds like you be the bitch as in you be doing the Bitch Bitch Bitch.

Guest
Guest

Sounds like the second coming of Warner Ervin.

Guest
Guest

when the staff, under a heat advisory from the weather bureau, walked the walk to the Cuny homes and back...ask how how the walk was for the principalunless his SUV was registering hot he had the easiest walk of all

Guest
Guest

This principal sailed through Grier's new interview process right?

Rahmanbagua
Rahmanbagua

This is Greer's answer to "failing schools"? This guy is exactly what Greer, Dance, Paula Harris and the rest of HISD Board deserve! It is a damn shame that STUDENTS must pay the price for these unforgivable politics! The former principal NEVER should have been dismissed! This principal is talking about all that he has done... What!? He hasn't even been there a semester! The scores he is speaking of came from the former principal and year of instruction!

KidsFirst
KidsFirst

This is a load of BS. McKenzie is a liar, who believes that he can do what ever he wants. I guess he can because he still has a job. Many do not understand why nothing is being done. It is ashamed that he was handed a school on the raise. There should be an investigation in how the school is currently operating. It is a zoo with very little learning taking place. McKenzie has turned it into his own play ground complete with girlfriends and personal shopping trips to the mall. Shame on HISD for letting him stay in place. He has brought fear and hate in the lives of all the staff and the students. I guess he has learned well from Grier. Shame on Paul Harris. He is better the the former prinicpal??? I think not...

mali
mali

sorry, he wasn't a principal - he worked there

VSmile1
VSmile1

Good job! Keep speaking the truth!

Dimepicz
Dimepicz

Please stop spreading lies. You, as a student should focus on your assignments and let this be handled by adults.

Dyeye
Dyeye

Anyone can be racist.

TellitLikeitIs
TellitLikeitIs

Yes, he drove his Cadillac Escalade to the Cuney Homes while the rest of his staff walked. They knew it was his vehicle because of his personalized plates that read "HARD"! Very professional for a middle school principal!

Concerned for the Kids
Concerned for the Kids

Grier was so interested in FORCING his own agenda he removed a effective principle with years of experience to install McKenzie as part of his Apollo 20 project. The same project that was described by Paula Harris at a town hall meeting as "an airplane being built on the runway while taxing to to take off."

mick le free
mick le free

You are correct, he was given an easy out from Long, reinvented himself and was hailed by Grier and company as if he were the second coming.

PISSEDOFF
PISSEDOFF

You have got to be kidding me! What a INSANE person you MUST be to accuse a child of lying and then tell them to let an injustice "be handled by adults." It's a good thing you did not teach great individual of the past like MLK! Standing up for what is fair, right, and true is the most basics of civil rights. (at any age) Maybe you think the elderly should just "shut up and take it also." You should be ashamed of yourself. Obviously you do not believe that students should have the civil right to stand up for themselves and/or others around them. SHAME ON YOU! It's a good thing that The Constitution, police, and CPS do not have your warped opinion!

QUANELL SAYS
QUANELL SAYS

Quanell says stop this racist agenda, another lie perpatrated against the Black Man and his righteous cause.

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