|James H. Hoose|
|William H. Clark, President, Cortland School Board.|
SUPT. DRAPER AND DR. HOOSE.
Letters That Explain Themselves—Dr. Hoose Hits Back.
The following correspondence explains itself and will be interesting reading to every reader of the DEMOCRAT:
ALBANY, July 28, 1891.
Dr. JAMES H. HOOSE, Thousand Island Park, N. Y.,
Sir: At the time of our convention at Toronto, in which you suggested that it would be unpleasant for you to continue in the Cortland school a portion of the year, under all the circumstances, I advised that you should consider the matter further and see me again before leaving, but for some reason we did not again meet. What you then said impressed me as having much force, and subsequent developments made it even more clear that, if there is to be a change in a principal there, it should take place prior to the opening of the school.
My views of the law touching the relations of the Board and Superintendent, as declared by the Court of Appeals in your case some years ago, and my knowledge of all the facts as they exist, have led me to advise you that a change was inevitable in a little time, at least. I have been anxious to defer it long enough to enable you to secure a suitable position elsewhere, and have intended to hold the resolutions of the Board without acting upon them, for some time, even to the close of the fall term if need be, in the belief that by that time, there would be an opening for you elsewhere, and the difficulties of the situation would be largely removed. But it becomes clear that this is not practicable. You saw it earlier than I. The fact that there is to be a change is gaining publicity through different channels, and will of course make it disagreeable for you to remain there. I had hoped that the unpleasant relations between yourself and the board would become modified, but the hope is not realized. You tell me that the Board treats you unfairly, and the Board claims that you have misrepresented the facts and given out that you had defeated and overthrown their action, and that you treat the Board and its members with contempt. Again, there are to be several new teachers, and some consequent readjustment of work and it is also true that whoever is to be principal of the school hereafter might better be upon the ground while the work upon the new building is in progress.
It, therefore, seems to me best that the change take effect at once, and I write to advise you to send in your resignation and relieve me from the necessity of approving action which formally removes you from the position. I am sure that this will be wiser for you and it will be more agreeable for me. If you act upon the suggestion, I shall, as I nave said to you, be very glad, so far as I now know, to call upon you for such extra assistance in conducting the institutes as we may need, until you become located to your satisfaction. I am
Yours very respectfully,
A. S. DRAPER, Superintendent.
CORTLAND, N. Y., August 3, 1891.
Hon. A. S. Draper, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Albany, N. Y.
DEAR SIR:—Yours of July 28, calling for my resignation has received attention. The letter very gravely misapprehends the spirit and tenor of the talk which I had with you at noon, Saturday, July 11, in Queen's Hotel, Toronto. My clear understanding with Hon. Charles R. Skinner, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, had with him at noon June 30 last, in the Cortland House, Cortland, immediately after the close of our (43rd) commencement exercises, was the same as that which I had with you in your office, A. M., of June 25th last. It was explicit, and to the effect that I should not resign my position under the request of the board made on me June 1 last, as I stated in my answer to the board, made June 8, that if a business proposition came to me, offering a good situation, I was to accept it—provided it was satisfactory to me, and to the entertaining of which I was a voluntary party; and that until such an opening came matters in Cortland were to remain as they were. Mr. R. B. Smith of the board, who was present at the board meeting held in the afternoon of June 30, says that Mr. Skinner placed the above understanding explicitly before the board at that meeting. You conveyed to some friends of mine who were in your office July 3, the idea that you had in mind a very valuable and desirable position for me. I approached you in Toronto in order to learn what business proposition you had in prospect for me, and I suggested that if I were to be offered, soon after the opening of next term, a situation which I might be induced to accept, that it might be as well for our school to open in September without me.
You responded that you were tired of the trouble at Cortland; that you had left Albany hoping to hear nothing more of the case while away; and you asked me if I was tired of it also, querying if it would not be very unpleasant for me to open the school next term, to which remarks I answered "no" immediately—for I recollected instantly your remarks made to a friend of mine in your office May 20, and repeated to me there June 25, touching the social life of unhappiness which you thought we must have in Cortland, owing to school troubles; it was explained to you that our social life in Cortland was exceedingly pleasant, for our friends were very cordial as well as very numerous. Your conversation at Toronto continued to the effect that members of the board had told you I had boasted of my victory, thus humiliating them before the public, and that you had promised them you would assign me to another position in time; that I should be on the lookout for a position elsewhere; that a teacher in a normal school should have due notice given when demanding his resignation—a time which I had not had; that you had concurred to remove from our school, only a few days before, a teacher who had had ample notice from the board, and should therefore have resigned; that my relations with the Department had been always of such a loyal character that I was entitled to proper consideration therefor; that the majority of the board were your appointees and you had not lost confidence in them; that you had no situation to offer me, except that which was conditional and temporary; and that my ultimate choice rested between accepting from you this temporary work, or eventual removal; that I could think over this matter and see you again on the following Monday, July
13. As I had said to you on Saturday that I had not boasted of a victory or done anything to humiliate the majority of the board; as I was no party to your promise to the board; as you had no business proposition to make to me, other than a temporary one; as I had stated explicitly to you June 25, that I should not entertain a temporary business calculated merely to lure me to resign, and as the only matter to think over was that of the choice of alternates for me, I had therefore nothing further to say on the subject, and did not see you again at Toronto.
Permit me to say that your conversation at Toronto, July 11, and the contents of your letter of July 28, are in striking contrast to all of your talks with me down to about the time when it began to be apparent that members of the board had received an assurance that you would concur with a majority of the board. The following instances exhibited the unfolding of the case:
INSTANCES DURING 1886.
I met you first in your law office in Albany, January 28; you were a candidate for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; I said incidentally that we had earned in the school at Cortland the right to live in peace in the future; you answered that you were sure we were entitled to enjoy peace. All the Cortland friends of the members of the "old board" and myself—as well as ourselves—advocated your candidacy, and you gave assurances of active co-operation for preserving and promoting peace and prosperity in our school, should you be elected. You were elected; and no one of the friends who aided you then has been placed by you upon the board—nor have any of their recommendations been honored by you. Instead, your appointees are those who were active to promote the candidacy of others during that canvass, they are those who were pronounced in the opposition to the "old board" and to myself in the controversies of 1880-2; when we resisted and overthrew in the Court of Appeals the illegal power that was assumed by one of your predecessors.
INSTANCES DURING 1887.
At commencement at Cortland, June 28, during public remarks you said that our school was "second to none in the State in its management.'' At the meeting of Normal principals held in New York, in the American Museum of Natural History, I expressed to you after dinner, October 19, solicitude for judicious appointments when you should fill the vacancies then existing in our board. You intimated that you should make your appointments upon political advice, but that you should not do anything that should disturb the present order of things in Cortland; you would act for peace and prosperity. The latter part of November, I was told that you had said to a Congressman and an Assemblyman that no appointments to the board should be made that would not be acceptable to me. November 21, Judge Duell and a friend saw you in your office; upon return home, they said that you assured them you "should not do anything to unsettle affairs" at Cortland. Formal notice reached the board December 17, of your first appointments. These two appointments were ominous of subsequent trouble, for the appointees had been in the forefront of opposition to the board and myself in 1880-2.
This act of yours raised in my mind the thought that you purposed ultimately to remove me, and the idea of my leaving the school arose in my own mind as well as in the minds of friends. But the idea was dismissed after a time, for the first time I saw you thereafter—at an institute at Canajoharie, December 22—when I expressed deep solicitude as to the outcome, saying our people were disappointed and anxious over your action, you asked me to see you in Albany to talk over the situation; and you said that you would see that no harm came to me from your appointments, and that I need not worry for you would take care of me. Articles appeared in the press of last December, entitled "Hoose Must Go," indicating the effect upon the public made by your appointments.
INSTANCES DURING 1888.
An Assemblyman told me, January 10, that Superintendent Draper said to him that the conditions of his appointments (of Dec., 1889) were that they should raise no issue on the principal, but should work in harmony with him, for no attacks upon him will be permitted, as "Dr. Hoose is too valuable a man to be disturbed."
At the meeting of School Commissioners, Binghamton, I saw you the first time since our meeting at Canajoharie. You called me into your room in Hotel Bennett, in the evening of January 19, and stated to me that your appointments had been made at the instance of a State Senator; that there was a distinct understanding between the Senator and the appointees that in no way were they to enter the board for the purpose of reviving old issues or to make trouble for the administration, and that you had refused to make the appointments until these conditions were agreed to by the appointees; that, hence, I need have no fear of trouble from them. This assurance you repeated to me January 20, adding the remark that I should rest entirely free from anxiety because of our board. Alluding to a prediction of trouble made in a recent issue of an educational journal, you remarked that you saw no reason why the paper should state that, as the appointees would cause no trouble. At the meeting of the State Teachers' Association, Watkins, at your hotel, in the evening of July 5, you said "I will not leave you in a hole," when I explained how the majority had passed, May, 26, a resolution calculated to embarrass the administration of school work—as is fully explained in my answer to the board, made June 8, 1891.
At the meeting of Normal principals, Buffalo, October 16, in the Genesee House, you asked me if there was any "blood in the cloud" at Cortland, referring to the acts of the majority towards the administration— you had non-concurred October 2, in the rules passed May 26. In the evening of October 16, during a stroll about Buffalo, you said to me in effect that you would stand by me in every way; that I had an established reputation in my profession; and that I should be defended by you as long as you should remain in office. October 26, an alumnus of our school told me that a member of the majority of the board said to him their policy was to curtail my power —a policy fully exhibited in my answer of June 8. At Syracuse, at the meeting of academic principals, I explained to you, December 27, that members of the board were interfering with my prerogatives as principal by giving over my head authority direct to the students—a practice which must stop. You said that you did not "want any fuss at Cortland," and that you would go to Cortland to meet the board and myself, or you would meet us at Albany, to adjust the provinces of authority between the board and the principal. These provinces had already been outlined in your letter of October 2—see my answer of June 8.
INSTANCES DURING 1889.
At the meeting of School Commissioners held in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, I said to you January 8, that I should ask you to come to Cortland to meet the board and myself to stop the encroachments upon my authority as principal, unless they ceased, for our students were becoming demoralized by the interference; you said that you would meet us, if wanted. In my office, in the forenoon of February 15, one of the majority raised some point of administration that interfered with my official duties; I suggested that you be invited to visit Cortland to settle the provinces of authority; he said "It would not sound well to have that done — we could agree;" he called again in the afternoon of that day and said that hereafter they would deal with the students only through the principal. Another member of the majority said to me March 19, that he wished only one head to the school; that I should administer discipline myself. On April 23, one of the majority said to me that he should write to you to visit Cortland to consult about employing teachers before any nominations were made; he informed me April 25 you could not come until May 14. This same member informed me by letter May 2, that "The Superintendent has endorsed the Prang System (of Drawing) for the State" — a matter that touched materially our work in school, and a notice I had not known before. This showed an understanding on professional subjects between the board and you that I had been ignorant of. Suddenly, the board nominated two teachers May 4 —ten days before you could be present for consultation.
You were at the meeting of Normal principals in Cortland, May 14. One of the nominees, being in town, did not call on you, nor had I been called upon by said nominee. On the evening train from Cortland to Binghamton that day, I suggested that perhaps I had better leave the school, as the aggressive course of the majority touching my authority and advisory province as principal might work ultimate injury to the school; you answered that you did not want me to leave, but to stay, as I was doing good work here; I said that if there was a Normal principal in the State more devoted to his work than I was, I should like to know him; you said there was none. During this ride you suggested that you would summon to Albany the nominee who did not call on you while in Cortland; I approved. May 17, in the afternoon, the said nominee called upon me at my office, by "request of the Superintendent." I wrote you May 17, that the conference was satisfactory. You wrote May 18, the candidate "quite agreed that it was a mistake that he had not called upon you previously, and gave me every assurance that, if confirmed, he should cooperate with you in all ways for the advantage of the school. In view of that fact, and of the contents of your letter, confirmation will follow at once."
INSTANCES DURING 1890.
In January and February nominations of teachers were made by the board. Your official course in those cases was in direct variance to that taken in the case of May, 1889, although at the meeting of the Department of Superintendence, New York, while we were walking from the hotel to the evening session, February 18, you said to me, alluding to appointment of teachers, that I might rest assured you would not see me "imposed upon." May 18, you made two more appointments to the board. On December 2, I met at the school one of the architects and assisted him in planning for a new building, and for improving the present building—two other members of the faculty aided. This aid was continued December 16-18, and on December 29. Our suggestions were substantially embodied in the plans which were later adopted by the board.
INSTANCES DURING 1891.
Your fifth appointment to the board became public about July 1. You wrote April 7, in answer to my letter of April 4, that you were not responsible for the reports about you on the streets; that "whenever the affairs of the Cortland school reached me officially, I shall undertake to do what may seem to be best for the institution." May 16, the majority began their attack on me, doing it in an unofficial manner. This was the first notice received from any source that I was not acting in harmony with the board. My official account of this was laid before you May 20. You said to a friend May 20, that you had said you would concur with a majority of the board; that you should think work elsewhere would be agreeable to me, "say in some other Normal school of the State;" that whatever your decision in the case might be, "no harm should come to Dr. Hoose." Acting under your above suggestion about taking work elsewhere, I wrote to you May 21, that "if you appoint me to a place where I can pursue my professional labors, the case here can be adjusted amicably and speedily, so far as I am concerned." You answered May 26: "I know of no position at present to which I could appoint you, provided your relations to the Cortland school were severed, but so far as anything has transpired, I should have no hesitancy in doing so or in approving a nomination made by the local board of any State Normal school, if a suitable opportunity should present itself." June 1, came the request of the board that I resign, and my refusal, June 8.
On June 20, a committee of prominent citizens of Cortland and the president of the Alumni Association of the school appeared before you in your office, representing through numerously signed petitions the citizens of Cortland and vicinity. The alumni and students of the school all protested against the violent action of the board, and asked you to non-concur in these attacks on members of the faculty. An extensive correspondence to the same effect enforced this request of the committee and petitions. You wrote me June 23, if I did not wish to see or write you on the action of the board, saying, "I feel inclined to act without much more delay." With friends, I called on you at your office June 25; you assured us that there was nothing laid against me. In a subsequent interview with me that day, you said that you had exacted assurances from your appointees of May, 1890, that they would enter the board to act in harmony with me; you spoke of several plans you had considered that would place me in more agreeable work elsewhere in the State; that you had been asked a year ago to remove me that you had declined to have anything to do with the case, but that you had agreed to act with a majority of the board. I said that I should not resign under the attacks of the board—I would be removed first; that I would entertain a business proposition, if a satisfactory one were offered to me.
In conclusion: Referring to your letter of July 28:
(1) You alluded to your "views of the law touching the relations of the board and the superintendent." Reviewing incidents and past acts, it appears that you stated May 20 and June 25, that you had promised to concur with the majority in their acts; that the majority refused, May 16, to meet you to investigate the nature of the differences and to adjust them; that you positively refused, May 20, to meet the board and myself to investigate the case, after you had as positively promise to hold such a meeting; and that you removed early in July one of our faculty, because the board asked you to do so. The legitimate inference from the above, is that your views of the law are direct and simple, to wit—that the business of the Superintendent is to concur with the majority, because they wish you to do so; and that this view of the law lies under cover of the words, "immediate supervision," as they exist in the decision of the Court of Appeals.
The case is reported in 89 New York Reports, "The People, ex rel., Neil Gilmour, Superintendent, etc., respondent, vs. Frederick Hyde et al., appellants." The "holdings" refer explicitly to the employment and discharging of teachers, and that this can be done only by concurrent action. Relating to the Superintendents act of attaching a condition to the contract of hiring, e.g. "to continue during the pleasure of the local board and the Superintendent," the Court says: "We think it clear he had no right to attach such a qualification. The exercise of such power by him would substitute the caprice of either of the branches of the appointing power for the joint act of both, as the instrument of removal, and deprive the teacher of that certain tenure of employment which the law has provided in his behalf." * * * "The Legislature intended that his employment and its continuance should rest on the conjoint action of an immediate and a remote authority, and not on the pleasure of either acting by itself." On the matter of dissensions, the Court says: "If the local board, upon whom the responsibility of immediate supervision is devolved, shall mismanage the school, the entire board or any member of it may be removed by the Superintendent, with the concurrence of the Chancellor of the University." * * * "Such a construction of the statute preserves to the school the benefits of an independent local supervision, while it enables the Superintendent to arrest a perverse or pernicious course of management before it has impaired the usefulness of the school."
This decision was supposed to be in the interest of permanency of tenure of office; but your construction of it practically converts it into an article that destroys permanency, thus virtually nullifying the decision of the court. It surpasses my powers as a layman to understand how these explicit provisions of the decision contain explicit or implicit, mandatory or permissive provisions, under which a superintendent may promise to concur with a majority of his own creating, to remove a teacher without cause and without an investigation, or to understand how the majority of a board can, under the newly promulgated "due notice" theory, and at its sole pleasure, implicitly attached to its every act of hiring teachers, a virtual condition of removal and that, too, without cause and without an investigation. An investigation in tribunals seeking justice brings the disagreeing parties face to face—a privilege denied by you.
(2) I am in no way responsible for the publicity of the reports that there is to be a change of principals at Cortland—hence it is not disagreeable for me to remain there.
(3) I disclaimed at Toronto any acts of boasting to humiliate the board.
(4) I have done nothing to increase this unpleasant feeling which the board entertains toward me—unless it be my refusal to resign as requested, June 1.
(5) Your own official decision in my favor cited in my answer of June 8, answers satisfactorily your words, "you tell me that the board treats you unfairly."
(6) I am entirely unconscious of any act of mine calculated to treat the board and its members with contempt. My rule of life is to treat all associates and officials with becoming inspect. But mark the contrast: Since the close of last term numerous changes have been made in the faculty; no word touching these has reached me from the majority, or from you—notwithstanding you said to me June 25 last, no associate teacher ought to be employed without the approval of the principal—a course universal with us until the advent of the majority into the board. This treatment towards me can have only one construction—that the majority have been acting against me with your knowledge and consent.
(7) To adjust teachers to their work is neither a new nor a difficult task to me.
(8) It would be no difficult work for me "to be upon the ground while the work upon the new building is in progress"—especially as I assisted to elaborate the plans.
(9) You ask me to resign. I opened the Cortland Normal school March 3, 1869, twenty-two and a half years ago—sixteen years before you came to your present position. The prosperity and efficiency of the school are history. As recited before, twice during your administration of five years I stood ready to leave the school, because of your appointments of men upon the local board that you knew were inimical to my administration; but your course persuaded me to remain.
It is too late now to ask me to resign. I cannot do so with honor to myself, to my friends and to my cause. Without a single exception, my friends in state and nation, who have communicated with me on the subject approve my fixed purpose to decline to comply with requests for my resignation. You offer "to call upon" me for temporary work if I will resign. I am not seeking this or that place; I am a candidate for justice; I am an advocate for the inalienable right of the teacher to enjoy his reputation and position, except for just cause duly established. Except under the conditions made with Hon. C. R. Skinner, June 30, I respectfully and firmly refuse to resign my position as principal of the Cortland Normal School.
I have written at this length, because in case of injustice to a public man, his ultimate court of appeal is the public.
J. H. HOOSE, Principal.
Dr. Hoose and Supt. Gilmour:
Dr. Hoose and Supt. Gilmour: