MAGNOLIA, Texas – Three different former Magnolia High School teachers allege the workplace became so toxic that they became physically ill and they had to leave their jobs in the last two years.
Two of the teachers who spoke with KPRC 2 said they don’t feel the school district is doing enough to handle their age and discrimination claims.
Emily Winslow, one of the former teachers, would have been in her tenth year of teaching and her fourth at Magnolia High School. But in August, days into the school year, her teaching career ended.
“I had a panic attack at work and that was just kind of it for me,” she said.
Winslow said the stress was mounting over claims the school’s principal created a hostile work environment for herself and others.
“I couldn’t keep sacrificing myself because they wanted to keep a man in power, abusing his power and his position of power,” Winslow said.
She shared her concerns with the Magnolia ISD board at a meeting last week.
“I worked on campus with an administrator who created a hostile work environment after I refused to allow his fellow admin to get away with harassment,” she told the board. “I filed a grievance with HR, which was not properly resolved.”
Magnolia ISD declined to comment on personnel matters.
The school board president, the school board vice president, and the school’s principal did not return KPRC’s multiple requests for comment.
Winslow also alleged the principal “asked a new hire how she might avoid being perceived as an (expletive) because she was young and attractive” and “told a neurodivergent teacher that she better model how to act like a normal human being.”
Winslow said she shared the concerns with the district’s human resources department before taking the issue up at the school board meeting.
After sharing her complaints, she said the district tried switching her campus, which was an outcome she didn’t find acceptable. She said the district then tried to find reasons to fire her, alleging that she skipped work before she resigned.
“It was completely mishandled. I was told it was my job to work with my abuser. When I walked in to clear the air, I was told to ‘sit down,’ I was told ‘It wasn’t going to end well for me,’” she said.
Another former teacher, who asked KPRC not to use her name, worked at the high school from the fall of 2019 through the spring of 2021. She shared her concerns about the hostile environment and harassment with HR, only to feel dismissed, she said.
“He really did whatever he could to make me feel like I was less than him,” she said. “He tries to like put this power over you like he is better than you. He is, you know, more knowledgeable, more experienced, and he like kind of keeps you under his thumb.”
She said she went from really liking her job and loving to be on campus to dreading going to work every day, worried about the conversations she may have to have.
She now works for a new school district.
A third former teacher, who asked us not to identify her, claims the principal told her to make up grades when some of her students weren’t passing. It was a concept that made her consider leaving.
After she shared those concerns with a supervisor, a few weeks later, she ran into the principal in the hallway, at which point he called her name and “grabbed my face in both hands and got close to me.”
She said she began having regular panic attacks and became physically ill due to stress, noting that the physical altercation with the principal pushed her over the top.
Winslow said she knows of up to eight total young women who have also left the campus because of similar issues, and others who still work there but are afraid to speak out.
“This is a district that’s notorious for wanting to handle things on their own, but they end up being mishandled instead,” Winslow said.
The women hope speaking up can spark change.
“As a woman, it’s so important to stand up for yourself, and having daughters myself, I would never want them to be in a situation like this to feel like they were powerless,” the second teacher in this story said.
Last year, the ACLU of Texas sued Magnolia ISD for a gender-discriminatory hair policy that required boys to have short hair. A federal court found it likely violated the constitution, the ACLU said.