Former CCSD ethics director: ‘I am the fall guy’
May 14, 2013 12:44 AM | 4212 views | 23 23 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

I was dismayed to read the portrayal of me in Saturday’s edition of the Marietta Daily Journal, headlined “Top school administrator may be out.”

Please know that I am proud of my and my team’s thorough internal investigations conducted during my more than seven years with the school district. At no time during my tenure with the school district was it my decision whether to terminate or not terminate any principal. Decisions to terminate an employee have always been made by the chief human resources officer and then approved by the board. The decisions to terminate or discipline principals have always been made by the CHRO and superintendent after consulting with legal counsel and approved by the board after discussion in executive session and voting on the issue in public.

Every organization must have a fall guy to take the heat when political criticisms arise. In this case, I am the fall guy.

I was surprised at the abrupt conclusion of my employment with the district for budgetary reasons since I and my team had been told only three weeks ago by the head of Human Resources that the central office administration had no concerns about the way my team conducted investigations. During that meeting he was in fact very complimentary of our processes and the thorough investigations conducted.

Our investigations are all digitally recorded and subject to Open Records for anyone to review. I have never been told of any concerns with my job performance or with the way investigations were conducted by anyone in administration, and my performance evaluations have been excellent.

The superintendent has never spoken to me or any of my staff during his tenure with Cobb and has never even been inside our office to inquire about how we operate or for any other reason.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have never been one to engage in District politics. I have always made decisions based on facts and on what was best for the children attending Cobb schools.

My former boss who held this position before me once told me that the truth does not matter, what matters is perception; he said if someone says something about you loud enough and long enough, even if it is not true, people will believe it. It appears he was right.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Mary Finlayson

Marietta
Comments
(23)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
lawyers?
|
May 21, 2013
Mary..did your lawyer write that letter?? Sure sounds it!!! My letter sounded the same when I started my suit against the county..maybe we have the same lawyer!!!! Wanna do lunch??
anonymous 10th power
|
May 22, 2013
Your lawyer should look into a class action lawsuit with all the other victims of this horrid sub human. Call him or her up and tell them about all these people whose lives were ruined by this power hungry out of control atrocity. Guaranteed huge lawsuit and a feather in the lawyer's cap. I am dead serious, do it!
so happy!!
|
May 18, 2013
while u got what was coming mary.you made u bed now lay in it!! you poor thing. ask mr grisham or mike warner at the bus barn, maybe thay will loan u some money, are buy u lunch, nay thay dont know u now rt, only if u going to fire a bus driver are a bus mechanice, but hay u gone now, miss mary u should have heed what the cobb co grand jury noted 3 years ago. p/s please remember that 38 years of service bus driver u fired. for small

accident. while job hunting. sign sooo happy..
G. Warren Kuhn
|
May 17, 2013
Shaking up this department will have a positive effect on the School System overall. Like any corporate structure, the central office should support those in the field, not stab them in the back. While not everything the Office did was wrong, there are plenty of examples of how the department made gross errors of judgement.

Unfortunately, the issues are more prevalent than just one department at the Central Office. Everyone, starting with the Super needs to think every day about what they did to help support those in the schools do their job of educating children.

Reigning in a tyrannical department helps. How about cutting the waste? It's not a smart approach to save money when you blindly lay off what could be good teachers who just lack senority.

What really goes on in a school day to day? How much time is truely spent educating and how much of it is spent elsewhere? When the overhead is more than the work it's time to make some changes.
Ex-Cardinal
|
May 16, 2013
You were never a fair and unbiased person. Don't play the victim now that the tables have turned on you! You had a choice just like the rest of us who made the choice to stand on the moral ground by doing the right thing even when people ARE looking! You were the catalyst in destroying the careers and lives of many and for that, you should suffer the same fate as all of those whom you made a conscious decision to "go after" even when all roads and evidence pointed to the person in question's innocence. You willingly participated in the demise of my career and many others for no apparent reason other than the gross parading of your power and ability to do so! Your methods were unethical and borderline illegal and for that, my dear you should be punished. You are a brutish, cruel, and depraved woman who is so eagerly ambitious that you will not allow the humanistic qualities of hearing your inner conscience that weighs between right and wrong in order to make a just and fair quality decision. No, you wanted to show your superiors that you were a yearning, interested player in Cobb County School District complicated web of playing the roll of the terrible, heartless Greek goddess, Atropos who shreds the livlihoods of strong hard-working teachers without any regard for them or their families. Don't play the victim card, Mary Finlayson, now that the tides have turned! It is so ironic that now I can sit back and watch your career go up in flames as you had such a great hand in ruining mine. Of course, all those you praise your work have no idea what kind of zealous goon you truly are, but I wouldn't expect them to for most cold hard killers in prison has a friend or two and family members to create such a lovely picture of their one-sided view, as it is the same for you! It has also been said that the true character of a person is measured by her actions and not her words; therefore, my dear Mary Finlayson, the true you is protruding forward. It would be wise of you to release the truth about every case you have had your hands tied to from the beginning. Go back and tell the truth since now you want to pretend that you are a "scapegoat"! Let's see how remorseful and empathetic you really are! Go back and turn coat on all those "devils" that made you do it. Give names, dates, and places or specific information, perhaps then and only then your apology may have some real merit. Otherwise, I'll see you in the soup kitchen line too!
anonymous
|
May 17, 2013
I guess you don't like Mary? Perhaps you should have put that same effort into the work at the District.
Welcome to the Menu
|
May 16, 2013
The CCSD has been "eating its own" for about 2 decades now. They have classroom teachers for snacks and principals and other administrators as

entrees. So, Ms. Finlayson, welcome to the menu at

the Cannibal's Cafe. And please appreciate the irony

that you once dined with the same people who are now devouring you.
anonymous
|
May 16, 2013
I, for one, am a fan of Mary. I saw her take action against employees that needed it. People do not realize how much waste is caused by people taking advantage of sick pay policies and administrators not addressing it. The district would rather have quiet employees than address issues and get rid of the dead wood. That is where the board needs to start looking at cutting. Get people in that really want to come to work and make a difference, not the ones that just want an easy ride and look for every reason not to work and not come to work. Good luck Mary
Ex-Cardinal
|
May 16, 2013
You only know what Mary or the others want you to know. You have no idea of the facts involved; therefore, walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you put up such an ignorant comment!
never forgetting
|
May 14, 2013
boo-hoo-you had NO sympathy for the people you threw under the bus and i have no sympathy for you.you're a cruel,hateful woman-so the worst you get is alot better than you gave others.telling an older driver you'ld call the police,have her hancuffed and taken to jail.no sympathy-just a judgemental witch.hope you get back what you have given others in spades.
CCSD Employee
|
May 14, 2013
No one is buying your load of crap, Ms. Finlayson. As someone who has been on the other side of one of Ms. Finlayson's (unjust) "investigations", I can personally attest from experience to Ms. Finlayson's mishandling of investigations, her bias, and her guilty-until-proven-innocent modus operandi; all served with a heaping helping of disrespect for her colleagues that worked tirelessly to give our children the education they deserve. I for one am glad to see this tyrannical bureaucrat go.
From a Distance
|
May 14, 2013
Ms. Finlayson,

Your former boss told you exactly right. Unfortunately, you seized his words of caution and used them against others. You are a cold, uncaring witch who consistently misrepresented the truth, lied and belittled employees loudly and long enough that those required to make final decisions believed you. You were on a one woman witch hunt relative to certain employees and your underlings were afraid to do anything other than follow your lead. Well, my fine lady, this is just the beginning of your descent down the slippery slope. So relax and enjoy the ride. You've earned it.
Relieved
|
May 14, 2013
"At no time during my tenure with the school district was it my decision whether to terminate or not terminate any principal. Decisions to terminate an employee have always been made by the chief human resources officer and then approved by the board."

Finlayson has got to be kidding! Okay, may with regard to the termination of principals, but how many times did she sit across the table from teachers, assistant principals, counselors, classified employees, and say to them: "You can either resign or be terminated from the CCSD." OR "You can be demoted, resign, or choose an early retirement." These were said in mini-meetings with either an assistant principal or principal present - as well as the poor victim. There are many former employees that can attest to this.

same quote
|
May 21, 2013
I heard the same quote: "you can either resign or be terminated from the CCSD or retire, 'you're old enough" is what was said to me...also told my badge was to be mailed or brought to the county no later than that week. If not a Cobb County Campus Police would come to my door....boy did that scare me!@!@ I laughed and said "I'm scared"..the whole HR department are just like Mary...threatening and cocky...no feelings for anyone...
*.*
|
May 14, 2013
Frank Robinson (a counselor at Lassiter High School)was blindsided by Ms. Finlayson. A student made accusations against him. At the beginning of his "invesetigation," Ms. Finlayson repeatedly said to him, "We KNOW you are guilty. It will be better for you if you go ahead and admit it now." Mr. Robinson left the building that day to face months of misery. After a Cobb County School Board Tribunal, he was not dismissed. He went back to work at Kennesaw Mountain H.S. Time passed during which he was treated as a guilty person. He had a criminal trial where he was found NOT GUILTY!!! Does Mr. Robinson work in Cobb County today? NO! Because the momentum of false accusations propelled him to be "tried" in front of the Professional Standards Commission. BEFORE his criminal trial. Yes, Ms. Finlayson. We have witnessed how PERCEPTION is often stronger than the truth. I would love to see the digital transcript of Mr. Robinson's "investigation." P.S. The principal who was in place at Lassiter at the time was on a Professional Development plan himself. He left to take a principalship in AL and even got thrown out of THAT school system.
GoodFirstStep
|
May 14, 2013
I have first-hand experience with Mary Finlayson and her minion, Jay Morrisey, in the badly misnamed Department of "Professional Standards and Ethics". There is nothing professional or ethical about these two. In their investigations, Mary and Jay have repeatedly “lost” documents and digital recordings of their investigations that would be evidentiary of their abominable behavior. Their vigilante approach to investigating is to harass, intimidate, and lie to those being investigated, even promising a "free pass" to witnesses for telling them what they want to hear. Information and testimonies that would prove the innocence of those they have already deemed guilty “accidentally” disappears. Mary and Jay have withheld information requested through open records, a prosecutable offense. So, no I am nowhere close to being sad to see Mary go. My only question is why isn't Jay Morrisey right behind her? What about Michael Shanahan, Chief Human Resources Officer, who oversees Mary’s department? Shouldn’t he be aware of what is going on under his nose? What about Area Assistant Superintendents, like James Carter, who all too willingly take steps to admonish their own people without gathering all the facts or even having a simple conversation with those doing the jobs they were called to do. Who can trust him now? Let’s not be too quick to let these folks off the hook and blame the board. By the time these cases get to them, they are too tainted by dishonesty and immorality to make an objective decision about hiring and firing. They make decisions based on the information and recommendations of those they entrusted to investigate, and I am glad to see at least one of them gone. Let’s face it, this is one HUGE mess that won't and shouldn't go away anytime soon. So, for all CCSD employees from custodians to principals, I say THANK YOU! This is a good first step. But, clearly more needs to be done. So, what’s next?
anonymous
|
May 14, 2013
Yes,perception is important, but Mary would start her "interogation" with a statement of " go ahead and confess, we know you did it." Is this fact finding? I think she is guilty of perception versus fact finding. Karma!!?!!
Ex employee
|
May 14, 2013
Jay morrisey needs to go also. This also goes on in the transportation department with mr. Grisham, and mike Warner. They have falsely took employees to ms. Finlayson to have them fired. The same should happen to them also
Pat H
|
May 14, 2013
It seems that your remark about the truth does not matter, but what other people are saying about you, is exactly what happened to those who were accused by children with an axe to grind.
Former CCSD
|
May 15, 2013
Ms. Finlayson, how does it feel? I had been with CCSD for over 18 years with perfect evaluations and never any sort of disciplinary action against me. That didn't stop you from treating not only me, but my family members who were there to support me like we were common criminals! You didn't bother to read my response to the ridiculous PIP I was placed on without warning. You just informed me I could either resign or be terminated and gave me a whopping thirty minutes to decide. You are nothing more than an over paid bully and you finally got yours. Couldn't have happened to a better person.
No kidding
|
May 14, 2013
Your former boss was more right than one can ever imagine. The rules only apply when they are needed. The Super probably isn't aware that your office exist.
east cobb watcher
|
May 21, 2013
This could not have happened to a more deserving person. Her "investigations" of teachers and classified employees usually amounted to coaching some less-than-professional principals in how to "legally" get rid of anyone in their school who fell out of favor. Meetings with the accused person was like a Nazi SS interrogation, and Findlayson's defense is that she was merely doing her job. The same defense used by Nazi war criminals!! The worst crime of all, aside from ruining so many careers and lives of CCSD employees, was that she clearly enjoyed her abuse of power. Her arrogance and disrespectful treatment of employees was disgraceful. I am sure she never thought for a moment about the ramifications of her biased, inaccurate, and dishonest reports. Getting rid of Findlayson in the same way she helped to get rid of so many others is a good start, but only the beginning. The entire CCSD Human Resources department needs to be be cleaned out and replaced with people who know how to be HUMANE as they do their jobs! Findlayson ought to go back on the streets, where she can deal with actual criminals, rather than terrorizing CCSD employees who are, for the most part, trying to make a positive difference in the lives of children. Maybe she can join her former sidekick, John Adams, who also enjoyed his pseudo Gestapo role, and start an advocacy organization for teachers. What a joke!!

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides