Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A few years ago, I spoke negatively of a fellow staff member at our school regarding her methods of discipline. Though there were parents who were satisfied with her relationship with the students, I felt that her chinuch was detrimental to the girls. I therefore expressed my opinion to the relevant parties. I now work at a different school, and have heard that the teacher I badmouthed moved to a different city and no longer teaches at the original school. Having heard that, I felt guilty, and was worried that she may have been fired because of my report of her to the administration. I inquired as to her whereabouts and the reason for her move, because I wanted to ask for her forgiveness. But, in spite of my efforts, I could not track her down. How can I correct my wrong?

A: If it is as you said, and the teacher’s methods were faulty and detrimental to her students, you were obligated to notify the administration thereof. This is so, even if your words would cause them to fire her.

In view of the anger and emotions involved, it is likely that you exaggerated when you relayed the information to the principal. Moreover, you may not have made a concerted effort to explain the problem to your friend before approaching the principal.

If this is true, you should do teshuvah by feeling remorse, viduy, and kabbalah al he’asid. It seems that you don’t have to ask for her forgiveness, especially since you don’t know that your words caused her to be fired.