When is an apology not an apology?
If you have followed this story for the past 19 months you know my take on it. If you haven’t or if you want a refresher you can see it at the links below.
Watch Your Back published 11/22/2014
YOU Are Not Alone published 12/01/2014
Watch Your Back (UPDATE) published 02/23/2015
The Silenced Majority published 03/29/2015
The details of this issue were summarized very well in the article by Michelle Mann in the Southeast Sun on 05/25/2015,
What is new in this story is the prepared statement called an apology that was read by the superintendent in the board meeting on 05/24/2016 which brings me back to my original question.
When is an apology not an apology?
Think about any apologies you have received or given as you read this one.
“The intent was not to cause embarrassment to Mrs. Dean and if this was done in error, we apologize.”
You can watch and listen to it being read on YouTube at
She could have just said, “I didn’t do anything wrong but if you think I did then I am sorry.”
For that story you can see the story in the Enterprise Ledger,
The “intent was not to cause embarrassment” part of the statement was not believable if you were at the meeting as I was. The fact Judge Clark let the lawsuit move forward based on, “exceptions are recognized when a state agent acts in bad faith or with malice or willfulness or under a mistaken interpretation of the law,” seems to support my interpretation and contradict the first part of the prepared statement as well.
Let’s think about this for a minute. Does anyone believe Sonya Dean would have gone to the trouble and expense of bringing a lawsuit against the board and superintendent if there wasn’t some embarrassment caused?
The “if this was done in error” also stood out to me. Any time I hear an “if” as part of a so-called apology that is a red flag for me and indicates the so-called apologizer does not believe they did anything wrong and are being forced to apologize out of some obligation so they need to qualify the “apology”. In this case a legal obligation was the impetus.
It wasn’t always this way
I remember a time when it was common for people to accept responsibility for their actions and offer a sincere apology when warranted. This was never universal but it did happen more often that it does today. Today, it is more common to claim victim status and try to shift the blame to someone else.
Is this the example the superintendent wants to set for the students? Would she accept an apology from a student if it was filled with qualifiers like “if I did anything wrong“?
Maybe I am just old fashioned and a minority in my thinking but I was taught for an apology to be authentic you have to take responsibility for your actions.
For the sake of argument if you take the Superintendent’s words as true, it appears the advice she said she received to name the employee and allegations publicly, even though it had never been done before or since, was not the best advice. In all likelihood the prepared statement would not have been needed if the original advice had not been given and followed. That makes me wonder about the quality of legal advice being received by the board and superintendent. Is it in their best interest?
That is enough said on my part. I don’t want to belabor the story any more as I know Sonya Dean and her family are ready to put this chapter of their lives behind them. I am one of those who has much respect for Sonya for standing up to the bullying initially and now accepting the prepared apology and settlement and moving on.
Sonya shared the letter below with me after the board meeting and it expresses her side of the story she has been unable to share until now. With her permission you can see it below in its entirety. It is appropriately named, My Turn.
Until next time…
Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 05/26/2016