FAIRFIELD — Secrecy is the norm in the Fairfield-Suisun School District, which is managed by fear, intimidation and bullying, said Tim Halloran, resigning as principal of Fairfield High School after he said district administrators harassed and pressured him out of his job.
“If you make people’s lives miserable,” Halloran said, “they’re going to move on.”
“They try to wear you down so you quit,” he said.
A positive outcome to the situation was impossible, said the school principal in his second year in that post.
School district administration actions came despite higher graduation rates, fewer dropouts and more students going to college from Fairfield High, he said.
Halloran, 54, who will continue as principal until next month, said hard work by the staff has helped turn around Fairfield High.
“I’m very proud of what’s taken place,” the school principal said.
“I’m not leaving because of the school,” Halloran said. “I’m leaving because of differences with the administration.”
He cited improvements that include what’s expected to be a successful school accreditation and Fairfield High’s status as the only high school in the state that’s part of a No Excuses University program for students.
School district administrators recognized neither success, he said, and communication between the district and the high school is poor.
Administrators apparently wanted Fairfield High to go in another direction but never communicated just what that was, Halloran said.
He spoke about a February meeting at the district office where administrators asked him to resign. Halloran, who said he was surprised by the request, did not step down. The school district could have released him by a March 15 deadline but did not do so, Halloran said.
School district administration did not respond to his formal reports about a hostile work environment, he said. But administrators would regularly contact him on the weekends about matters that did not require immediate attention, Halloran said.
A previous superintendent appointed him principal, Halloran said. Kris Corey was named superintendent in 2013 and is in her first academic year in that role.
“Maybe she personally doesn’t like me,” Halloran said of Corey.
Corey should have congratulated Fairfield High on its accreditation success and made clear the direction the school district sought for the school, Halloran said.
“That responsibility falls on the superintendent,” he said.
Halloran said he sent a letter about his resignation to the seven trustees on the governing board for the district. He said only one responded and that was to wish him good luck.
School board members are probably worried about the possibility that he may file a lawsuit, but the school principal said he does not intend to do so.
“That means the district is spending money that should be going to kids,” Halloran said of taking legal action.
He said some people may be surprised by his description of the school district, but compared the matter to workplaces where employees may know little about operations at the top.
“In a corporation, you’re just not really aware of what goes on inside,” Halloran said.
A graduate of Bellarmine High School in San Jose and the University of California, San Diego, where he studied biochemistry, Halloran worked as a biochemist before beginning a second career in education.
“I’m very sorry I didn’t find high school education earlier in my career,” he said of the satisfaction such work can bring.
The school principal said he won’t miss dealing with school district administrators but is sorry to be leaving Fairfield High.
“I’m going to certainly miss the school,” Halloran said.
Fairfield High, with enrollment of 1,350, had a poor reputation in the community, said Halloran, recalling graffiti and waist-high weeds at the school when he began as principal. That perception is changing as the school keeps improving, he said.
“I know I did the right thing,” Halloran said of his work at Fairfield High.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.