Manipulating people to stay on top and maintain control is a cheap way to pretend you have any kind of power.

Taking away stability by changing the rules, ignoring the rules, applying the rules to some and not to others and not giving people the opportunity to give input when you make decisions that drastically impact their lives is a manipulation technique that keeps others off balance and in a defensive position.

It’s terrible when cities engage in this kind of behavior. It’s even worse when school districts do it.

It’s bad enough when this type of manipulation is one-on-one. This type of behavior is abusive. When this is practiced on a large scale, against a neighborhood or district, it says so much about the people in charge and their lack of leadership qualities.

When a school district’s trustees don’t hold the hearings required by law and the superintendent decides to move young students out of their school over a weekend – letting students and teachers know at the last minute without informing parents first – you can imagine the chaos and panic that ensues. Unfortunately, there are schools that don’t have to imagine this scenario because they have experienced it just this year.

The administration’s response to the blowback: Just kidding! We meant they’ll move to a different school after this school year.

There is absolutely no reason to do that. Just as there is no reason that the meeting that you agree to have only after parents and neighbors express their frustration and anger at the situation and demand answers does not have to be at 4pm – the time that most of the parents are at work.

These manipulative behaviors by leaders who are making decisions on behalf of a community whether against the community’s expressed desires or in complete disregard for them don’t need abusive intent to be abuse. It’s abuse of power, abuse of position and a solid reason for those instigating the manipulation to be removed from authority.

Some people will not rationally engage with a process. They will not accept answers they don’t like or will not participate with an attitude toward resolution. This is not about that.

This is about a community being told the rules are one way, that their efforts to help pass a bond gave them no credibility, that the agreement they made with the administration had no value and that they have no choice when it comes to the schools in their community. This is about a community being told that they don’t know what’s best, that they need new schools instead of better schools and that gentrification is causing the problems, not the administration.

If manipulation is how you stay on top, you’re doing it wrong.