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After that, working with a permanent substitute the school brought in to teach Pishney's class the rest of the year, her son lost focus. "I was hoping that with her, he would really have a solid foundation to be in the middle of the class next year. That's been blown by the wayside," Lindberg says. "It feels like we're just kind of in a holding pattern."

It feels the same way to Pishney. Officially on sick leave, she's been asked by DPS to get a second opinion from a district-recommended doctor — but so far, the district has not made an appointment. In the meantime, the remediation process is on hold until Pishney returns to school. Her union grievance isn't moving any faster, and in March, Pishney hired an attorney to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that she was discriminated against by a "younger principal." Pishney's lawyer, Mark Bove, says that the complaint is likely to take more than a year to resolve. "Regardless of the finding," he notes, "Mary retains her right to sue individually."

Pishney isn't sure what to do next. If she leaves Bromwell and DPS, she worries that at her age, she'll have a hard time getting a teaching job, especially with a black mark on her record. Still, it pains her to think about not being in the classroom.

Mary Pishney is known as Miss P to all her students — and their parents.
Mark Manger
Mary Pishney is known as Miss P to all her students — and their parents.
Bromwell principal Jody Cohn gave Mary Pishney her first negative evaluation.
Mark Manger
Bromwell principal Jody Cohn gave Mary Pishney her first negative evaluation.

"I'm just seeing myself going from a situation of an idyllic, joyful, loving atmosphere, and it's all being destroyed," she says. "Because teaching isn't just teaching to me. It's a passion."

"I'm ruler," said Yertle, "of all that I see.

But I don't see enough. That's the trouble with me.

With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond

But I cannot look down on the places beyond.

This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.

It ought to be higher!" he said with a frown.

"If I could sit high, how much greater I'd be!

What a king! I'd be ruler of all I could see!"

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