Q: My daughter’s teacher for the upcoming year in kindergarten is known to be very strict. This teacher taught three of my older daughters, and over the years I’ve heard them discuss (amongst themselves, when they thought I wasn’t listening) the way the teacher used to yell and punish. In my opinion, my older ones were affected emotionally by the teacher’s behavior; two of them began stuttering, and the third suffered socially.
Because I was worried about sending another daughter to her, I inquired about a different gan, and was disturbed to hear that the teacher there is indifferent and uncaring. I think that the fact that two neighborhood teachers are holding onto their positions — despite the faults in their personalities — stems from the fact that mothers prefer keeping quiet rather than speaking lashon hara.
Am I also obligated to ignore my uncertainties, keep quiet and send my daughter, or may I approach the principal and discuss my fears?
A: If it is correct that the teacher is very strict and the girls suffer because of it, then not only is it permissible, but you are obligated to speak up. Because there is no halachic obligation to remain silent in this case, it seems strange that the mothers are aware of these issues and yet remain silent in order to avoid speaking lashon hara. The fact that you say that mothers are not speaking up leads me to think that you might be incorrect in your judgment of this teacher.
It is, therefore, advisable for you to discuss the matter with parents who’ve had their daughters in this gan and hear their opinions about the teacher’s personality and behavior. If you hear that they believe that this teacher is not fit for her job, and that there is no way of achieving improvement by discussing the issue directly with her, then it would be permissible to turn to the principal. This must be accomplished while adhering to the conditions of lashon hara l’toeles, especially not to exaggerate.
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