TASA ID: 408

I have served multiple times as a professional consultant and expert witness for various legal matters concerning schools and educational personnel.  There was one particular instance where my ‘findings’ were contrary to the beliefs and desires of the party who retained my services.

First, a bit of background:  My career began as a teacher, having been recruited during my senior year in undergraduate college by a major city school system.  Although I only taught for a hand-full of years, my career turned to educational administration – both in public schools and independent schools.  Later, while developing a business as an ‘educational head-hunter,’ many hours each week were devoted to assisting high schoolers who demonstrated some misdirected activities and goals to achieve high enough scores on standardized entrance exams to merit college entrance.  As the head-hunting business expanded to a second office, and even a third office, my personal studies were devoted to becoming a certified personnel consultant and then even a certified teacher consultant.  I was elected to the presidency of the now defunct National Association of Teachers Agencies, and it was from that position – now nearly forty years ago – that I was first retained as an ‘expert witness’ for several legal groups from New Jersey to Kansas.

When I was recommended by my own attorney to one of his colleagues, I found myself in an awkward situation. It was awkward because I didn’t want to return any obligations which may have jeopardized my relationship with my counsel and which may require that I ‘find’ I disagreed with my suggested role as a consultant. Regardless, I was introduced to the attorney who represented the husband in a pending divorce case.  Study of the situation revealed that there was an abundance of money involved, and the ‘departing’ wife wanted a large share of it all.  The husband wanted to mitigate his obligations.

I met with the husband for the first time at an extended dinner. Through that lengthy conversation I learned that the ‘departing’ wife had been trained as a ‘speech’ teacher with interest in working with children in grades kindergarten through grade six.  The couple had been married for close to twenty years, and in all that time, according to the husband, the wife had not ever entered a school or classroom other than as a mother to the couple’s three children.  She had never served as an employee in an educational environment.  She had never worked independently with children other than her own.  She had never earned any money, no less as a speech teacher or related field.  The husband – and his attorney – made it abundantly clear to me that I was to examine the wife as to her potential as a speech teacher, and subsequently as a head-hunter, I was to refer her to employment in a school setting.  The attorney for the husband paid for my dinner.

The meeting with the wife was scheduled for the following week and was to be conducted in my office in New Jersey.  Scheduled for 4 PM, the wife, along with her representative, arrived at 5:45, offering weak excuses for the delayed appearance.   I wanted to conduct a private, relaxed interview alone with the lady, but her representative insisted he be allowed to remain, albeit silent, in the room.  I relented and he remained.

Although it could have been an ‘act,’ she appeared very timid and afraid of me and my line of questioning.  Offering open-ended questions concerning her college preparatory courses, her field studies, internships, etc., I received mostly quiet, ‘head-down,’ one-or-two-word responses.  Frustrating as it seemed, I adjusted the line of questioning to hypothetical settings, asking how specific situations in a one-on-one child encounter during a speech remediation session would be handled.  For these questions, eye contact returned and a more loquacious response was given.

The meeting lasted about two hours.  It was abundantly clear to me that the wife had no understanding of child development, child-oriented settings, or how to manipulate the suggested situations into actual learning environments.  

I wrote my report finding against the husband and indicating that as a professional educator, seasoned school administrator, and placement counselor, I could not recommend the wife for school setting employment.  Her techniques for classroom, or situational management were either just ‘wrong’ or considerably inconsistent with modern practices.  Her knowledge of speech therapy approaches was outdated.  She would be incompetent in a school setting.

I submitted a report of my findings, my bill for services, and a thank-you for the opportunity to the husband’s attorney.  Other than receipt of payment as billed, I never heard another word from the husband, the wife, or the attorney and have no knowledge as to whether the husband’s intended goal of mitigating his damages was actualized.  Notwithstanding the intended goal of the husband for which I had been retained, I felt the obligation of my services had to be to the children with whom the wife would come in contact, who she would try to remediate in an all-important function of life, and for which she was ill-prepared and out of date.  I rest easily!

TASA Article Disclaimer

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA and the author (TASA ID#: 408). Contact marketing@tasanet.com for any questions.





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