How’s This For Ironic? Joshua Powell Was Fired For Doing Exactly What He Lectured — Internationally — Against

During the months of July and August we highlighted a trip former Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell took to Italy. He presented, along with his illegally-hired wife, Anna, at the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment’s 9th International Conference. He and his wife (we didn’t know she went on the district’s dime at the time) gave a talk about “workplace incivility in public education”, among others.

The man who was fired in part for bullying and inappropriate behavior in the workplace presented himself as an international authority on bullying and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

It’s been several months but we finally got a chance to go through the book of abstracts from the conference and our minds are blown.

You’re about to find out what it’s like to live in an alternate universe:


The talks Powell and his wife presented…

ORAL SESSION 3.3: Identifying and measuring bullying

Workplace incivility in public education

Powell J, Powell A
Powell’s Consulting, Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, United States of America

Aim: Workplace incivility has been found to cause significant distress to individuals and organizations and has begun to receive much attention (Andersson & Pearson, 1999; Cortina et al., 2001). There has been limited research regarding incivil type behaviors in the public sector within the U.S. This study addressed the prevalence of and related constructs of workplace incivility in K-12 education. According to Andersson and Pearson (1999), workplace incivility consists of “low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect. Fox and Stallworth (2010) found that 65% of public school teachers reported being the targets of pervasive bullying. Leyman (1996) found that 14.1% of mobbed victims worked in schools, universities, and other educational settings. Einarsen, Raknes, and Matthiesen (1994) studied bullying and harassment at work and found social climate and leadership are the factors most strongly correlated with bullying among primary and secondary teachers.

Methods: Educators from fifty-two elementary, middle, and high schools in Kentucky (n = 380). The survey involved the Workplace Incivility Scale (WIS), the Workplace Bullying Checklist (WB-C), and the School Culture Triage Survey (SCTS). Demographic information was also requested including: (a) age; (b) gender; (c) ethnicity; (d) marital status; (e) educational level; (f) school level; (g) job title; (h) number of years experience; (i) number of years in current setting; (j) tenure status; (k) type of teacher certification; (l) enjoyment of teaching. Factor analysis, Pearson correlations, hierarchical multiple regression, and ordinary least squares regression were used to investigate six research questions: (1) prevalence of workplace incivility and bullying, (2) relationship of incivility and bullying, (3) relationships among incivility, bullying, and school culture, (4) school culture as a predictor of incivility, (5) school culture as a predictor of bullying, and (6) demographic characteristics of targets.

Results: Results indicated that the prevalence of experienced workplace incivility was 22% instigated by administrator, 26% instigated by principal and 38% instigated by a co-worker, within the previous year. Workplace bullying and workplace incivility were found to be related constructs as significant positive correlations were found. Workplace incivility and workplace bullying were inversely related to school culture as WIS correlated with SCTS (p < .001) and WB-C correlated (p < .001) with the SCTS. After controlling for the demographic variables, school culture was a statistically significant predictor (p < .01) of both workplace incivility and workplace bullying. For teachers, marital status predicted the total workplace incivility score (p < .01) and age predicted the co-worker incivility score (p < .01). Gender was a significant predictor of workplace bullying (p < .01), as males reported more bullying than females. Findings and implications of this study are discussed. Conclusions: Participants will be introduced to workplace incivility, its prevalence in public education, as well as, the effect of incivility on student achievement. Participants will learn how to identify the targets and instigators of incivility, the educational impact that these behaviors have, and new strategies to increase student achievement while improving the work environment for all staff.

Powell Anna

POSTER SESSION — 5. Incivility — 5.1

The relationship of workplace incivility, school culture, workplace engagement, and working conditions on school district turnaround

Powell J, Powell A
Powell Consulting, Mount Sterling, Kentucky, United States of America

Aim: Significant discussion prevails in the United States regarding the lackluster performance of public education and prolific failure to attain state and federal test score accountability standards (Stein, L., Stein, S., & Stein, J. 2013). The global view of the US public education system remains dismal, and billions of dollars are expended annually on programs, incentives, consulting services, and increased personnel with varying results. The relationship of workplace behavior on organizational turnaround in the public sector is extensively overlooked (Williams, J., Ryan, J., & Morgan, S., 2014). Instead, the focus of legislative attention remains on the formulation of charter schools, governmental incentive funding, and consequences for poor performance. This presentation will systematically review the turnaround initiatives of a school superintendent/researcher focused on improving workplace behaviors in a low-performing school district.

Methods: Assessments included the use of the Workplace Incivility Scale (WIS), the School Culture Triage, and a workplace engagement survey. Working conditions were also assessed. The study was based in a rural school district in the State of Kentucky, with an enrollment of nearly 5,000 students and employment of approximately 700 personnel.

Results: Results indicated statistically significant improvements in test scores, working conditions, civility, culture, and engagement. Workplace behaviors were significantly related to test scores in both the school district and the six individual schools. Focusing on the improvement of workplace behaviors (civility, culture, working conditions, engagement) was the primary variable for the school district’s turnaround, as the school district improved the academic standing from the 76th percentile to the 17th percentile in two years.

Conclusions: The results underscore the imperative nature of organizational behavior, expectations, and norms to the performance of educational organizations. This research is directed to the practitioner, and the implications of the results suggest that empowering employees, focusing on civility, having appropriate leadership, and establishing positive adult culture are significantly related to organizational turnaround, rather than significant expenditures on other initiatives.

Powell Joshua, Powell Anna

ORAL SESSION 6.4: Risk factors

Effects of workplace incivility, workplace bullying, and culture on student achievement

Powell J, Powell A
Powell’s consulting, mt. Sterling, kentucky, USA

Aim: this paper session will describe a research project designed to assess the relationship between workplace bullying, workplace incivility, school culture, and student achievement. There were three hypotheses. First, it was predicted that the higher the school academic performance and the higher the school culture score, the lower will be the school average workplace incivility score. Second, the higher the school academic performance and the higher the school culture score, the lower will be the school average workplace bullying score. Third, after controlling for individual demographic variables, the higher the school academic performance and the higher the school culture score, the lower will be the scores for workplace incivility and workplace bullying. Workplace incivility consists of “low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect (andersson and pearson 1999). Namie (2003) explained that workplace bullying is different than incivility because it is a form of violence. Workplace bullying rarely involves fighting, battery or homicide but it is a sub-lethal, non-physical violence. School culture consists of “the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors which characterize a school. School culture consists of the traditions that create a sense of family or community and common agreement on the overall goal of the school is essential (wagner, 2004). Research suggests that schools with high school culture ratings have higher student achievement, as evidenced by test scores. On the other hand, schools with low ratings of school culture had lower student performance scores (cunningham, 2003; van der westhuizen, mosoge, swanepoel, & coetsee, 2005).

Methods: there were 228 employees from 26 kentucky schools surveyed. The survey was completed in 2011 and also used in a study on workplace incivility by powell (2012). Each participant was asked to complete the workplace incivility scale (wis), workplace bullying checklist – teacher checklist and school culture triage. Multiple regression analyses were completed to answer the first two research questions. For the third question, analysis of variance (anova) was performed to determine the amount of variance is attributable to school level variables. Hierarchical linear modeling was also performed to determine how much of the variance of workplace incivility and workplace bullying can be predicted by school achievement.

Results: on most models, there was a significant relationship between school culture and workplace bullying and workplace incivility. The higher the school culture score, the lower the workplace incivility and workplace bullying scores. When addressing school achievement, adding the testing data (school achievement) did not increase the ability to predict the workplace incivility. When the predicting workplace bullying, adding school achievement significantly increased the variance from 29% to 57%. Student testing was a significant inverse predictor of workplace bullying only when the alpha was increased to .06.

Conclusion: participants will be introduced to the new concepts workplace incivility and workplace bullying and the relationship with school culture and student achievement. Participants will learn how to decrease workplace incivility and workplace bullying between staff members; while in turn, improving school culture and increasing student achievement.

Powell A

These abstracts read like case studies of everything Joshua Powell has done or is accused of doing.

Absolutely chilling. Once you get over the realization that those are educators who wrote and proofread those blocks of text, of course.

Bonus: One can only speculate as to how uncomfortable the Powells were during the presentation that took place on page 137.