Advice for handling a troublesome network user

  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I work as Technology Coordinator for a small rural K-12 school district in Montana (305 students, a couple dozen teachers/faculty). One of my network users is the business\technology teacher. She teaches stuff like career building, keyboarding, photo and video editing, web design, and even a "cisco" class (I use that term very very loosely). Her classroom has 16 windows XP machines plus her laptop, a smartboard, and a network printer. Her classroom is also where I have some of the most unusual and unexplainable problems. One example is printing, she claims that only 2 computers can print and the rest of them cannot. When I sat down at one of the computers that was supposedly not printing it worked fine, and I showed her that but she still claims it isn't working. Almost all of my problems in there is where something doesn't work for her or the students but it does for me, and when I show her she adamantly claims it isn't working and refuses to explain the problem in more detail. When I try to tell her that I have no explanation why something isn't working for her but it is for me, she gets very loud and says I'm always making her feel stupid and that she knows when something isn't working "because she has a masters degree in computer science". She got very loud one time while students were in the room, which was very unprofessional.

On all my computers that students have access to I have a program called Deep Freeze which essentially prevents permanent changes to the hard drive. Its really handy because someone could drop a virus on it and all I have to do is reboot and it is like it never happened. This teacher is demanding the ability to unlock the computers and have administrator privileges to fix it herself. I told her it is generally considered bad practice to give network users admin access and is almost never done, and she said she can handle her computer lab better than I am apparently capable of doing, which I found very offensive. For the last several months I have been keeping a log of everything I do in there and all our conversations, so things like that are on record and the principal and superintendent are aware of the situation.

So my idea is this: I will give her full administrative access to her computers and her file server located on my rack, 100% control to her. But on one condition; I will no longer have any obligation or responsibility to the equipment in that room. She will be entirely responsible for maintenance and upkeep of equipment, performing updates and upgrades, and buying and installing hardware and software. The only involvement I will have is internet access through my content filter, which I am required to do my federal law. So basically, whatever breaks is up to her to fix, and if there is something she does not know how to do then she can do what I would have to do and research the problem or error message or whatever and troubleshoot it like any other problem.

So do any other network managers here think this is a good idea? I think if I do it and write up an official statement about it and make sure that me and her and the principal and superintendent are all on the same page with it, it won't last long. I think she would be in over her head and want me to take back control. The argument we were having today was about that printer, she said that she looked and all the computers have either PS or PCL drivers, but the printer is a 4600n. I couldn't get it through her thick head the 4600n is the model number of the printer, and that PS and PCL means post script and printer command language. She was very offended when I was trying to tell her what PS and PCL meant. So my idea is that I'll give her exactly what she wants (admin privileges) and let her dig her own grave with it.

Is this a good idea, or should I go about it differently?
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • grinch2171
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I hate people like this.

Here is what I would do. Go to the principal and tell him what you want to do and what has been going on. Show him all the documentation you have. If he agrees to it then I would image everything and give her full control and remove the deep freeze program. Make it so the students have full control and can do as they wish.

Then I would mess with her. Move files, put in Group Policies that affect her. Change permissions on file shares and printers. See if she can figure it out. She will soon be begging you to help and it may humble her a bit.
  • dyfrin
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I do not use deep freeze.
I do use group policies to limit access.

Make sure that she is in the local administrators group for each computer. That will allow her to install/etc.

But she, and the students, will be subjected to the group policies for that OU.

I have a script that automatically installs the printer when they log in.

Code: [ Select ]
cscript C:\WINDOWS\system32\prnmngr.vbs -ac -p "\\csd-print\MSBusEdLab-DELL3010"
cscript C:\WINDOWS\system32\prnmngr.vbs -t -p "\\csd-print\MSBusEdLab-DELL3010"
  1. cscript C:\WINDOWS\system32\prnmngr.vbs -ac -p "\\csd-print\MSBusEdLab-DELL3010"
  2. cscript C:\WINDOWS\system32\prnmngr.vbs -t -p "\\csd-print\MSBusEdLab-DELL3010"


Try that perhaps?
  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I don't have active directory, but I do want to get some sort of directory service because that would make things a hell of a lot easier, right now as it is I have a single un-privileged user acount with no password on each machine and then the administrator account. If I give her what she wants I think I'll leave the admin account as is but add another account in the administrator group for her. I asked our school counselor for advice because this teacher was bitching and moaning to her about how things are set up in the application we use for a grade book, so the counselor came to me. This teacher is a thorn in everyones side, but out here in the boonies it is hard to get people to want to move here for a teaching job that pays bottom dollar so we can't really fire her. The councelor said the same thing grinch said, to go to the principal and ask him. The principal is aware of the conflict between us and he knows I've been keeping records of everything, so I'm thinking I'll give him a copy of that come Monday. (taking Thursdays and Fridays off and working weekends until I get done installing the 20 smart boards we got with grant money)
  • dyfrin
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Academically priced windows 2003/2009 is so cheap especially if you virtualize (4 servers per 1 license). I think 130 is what we payed for our last server 2003 and put it on 4 vms.

I hope you can virtualize soon, we were spending 3-5k per server, and instead we went with 2 6k servers and a 11k SAN iscsi.
Never looked back. 20 some servers for <30k as opposed to 60-100k.
  • grinch2171
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Virtualization is definitely very cool.

I have four 2950's running Citrix XenServer. Two are pooled together handling 16 servers with more to come as I virtualize some more physicals.

The other two are handling virtual desktop duties. At the moment only doing 40 virtual desktops but we will be pushing over 200 here in a while.
  • camperjohn
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Post 3+ Months Ago

grinch2171 wrote:
I hate people like this.

Here is what I would do. Go to the principal and tell him what you want to do and what has been going on. Show him all the documentation you have. If he agrees to it then I would image everything and give her full control and remove the deep freeze program. Make it so the students have full control and can do as they wish.

Then I would mess with her. Move files, put in Group Policies that affect her. Change permissions on file shares and printers. See if she can figure it out. She will soon be begging you to help and it may humble her a bit.


I love this. When someone is clueless and thinks they know more than you, it's time to humble them.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I had thought about virtualizing some servers, and at my last job we were thinking about getting into blades. But the thing I am weary about is if there is a massive hardware failure you lose everything, whereas with individual hardware if something breaks you only lose one thing. I don't think I actually have enough stuff to take full benefit of virtualization, I only have a web server (which is going away soon and I'll be using google apps), a DNS server, an LTSP server\samba server, a small server with a database for the library card catalog, and then the samba server for the tech teacher's video editing students because they use a lot of hard drive space. So thats only five servers, soon to be four. I think I could probably take advantage of a high availability cluster for my LTSP though because that one has my biggest load out of the bunch.
  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The plot thickens.....

We have a web based grade book system hosted on our software providers server, just a simple php application and a postgresql database. Now this teacher is saying that "all her grades for the entire semester are missing". But iy is only her and none of the other teachers. She claims she didn't delete them, and somehow in one way or another I caused this problem. I sent an email off to our support guy asking him to investigate what is going on and to be very clear and precise describing to us what he finds. I hate to be paranoid, but I think this bitch is actively trying to make me fail and now she is resorting to making up stories and intentionally causing problems just so that she can say "I told you so". I'm normally not that paranoid, but I really think that is the case.

Normally I'd be a fan of workers unions, but in this case if we tried to fire her for what ever reason it wouldn't fly with the teachers union. This person is making it very difficult to want to come to work in the morning or to be proud of my job.
  • jflynn
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've got people like this where I work.

"It's always the computer or computer Techs fault."

This seems to be what they generally think. I don't have any advice for you but just wanted to let you knw that your not alone.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've got a letter written out addressed specifically to her and CC'd to the principal and the superintendent saying that I am willing to just hand over all admin access to her for her stuff in that room. I'll be totally uninvolved in anything that happens in there, and everything is up to her no matter what happens (with the exception of this grade book type of stuff and internet access and stuff). I'm going to quit doddling around and just be done with it, so as soon as I see that the principal is free I'm going to present it to him.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I gave the letter to the principal and he thinks that just handing over that chunk of the network to her and making it 100% her responsibility might not help the situation. So I'm rewriting the letter to say that I'm going to create a new account with admin privileges and I am going to change the deep freeze password on those computers, then that way she can work on them as she wants but can still fall back on me. He didn't particularly like some wording in my original letter where I said that giving network users admin privileges is considered very bad practice, instead he wants me to say something a little less harsh. I think I'll change that part to say "it is not normal operating procedure". I want to do this because then she can get what she wants and can quit being a pain in the ass, but at the same time I am not looking forward to the kinds of problems it might create if she fudges something up big time.
  • grinch2171
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You could word it as "According to Microsoft's best practices, it is generally not recommended to allow end-users to have administrative rights to the Operating System due to potential security threats." There is plenty of documentation out there to back you up. Sounds like the principal is lacking a spine.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The principal does need to grow a pair. I personally don't like the guy because he micromanages. I once saw him stop a kid in the hall who had his shoelace untied. Rather than telling him to tie it, he walked the kid back down the hall to his classroom, made him tie his shoelace, then go back to where ever it was he was going.

If this teacher lady really had the masters degree in computer sciences (she should be working in a major company making more money than if she was a teacher), then she ought to know the dangers of giving out admin rights like it is halloween candy. And she ought to know how to tell a driver version apart from a printer model number. And she ought to know that a VGA cable plugs her computer into the projector and doesn't have anything to do with controlling smart boards. She's just so scatterbrained that I know that I'm only going to have to fix more stuff in there once she can get her hands on it.
  • mk27
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well, I kind of liked your original plan, and was dying to hear what happeded, BUT:

Don't you think you are being a little bit of a coward here? I mean, I will admit, I trained to be a teacher (got my BA, etc. -- I was gonna be the English guy). Then I realized I would have to actually work in a public school -- like all those power tripping tisheads that I always hated would now be my colleagues. There are some other reasons, but when half the people I knew from university with the same intentions quit after a year, I knew that was it.

Anyway, that said, I think you should just toughen up and deal with this b**ch. Of course, you have kind of dug a hole for yourself already, but man, those people have been in the same situation for decades. They are gonna think you are a cop-out dealing with it this way. Part of what you get paid for is not just to be knowledgeable and competent in your field, it is also to "work with the team" INCLUDING the totally dysfunctional members. Otherwise, you become completely replaceable: you are just a skill-set, and there is a pile of resumes with those on them*.

If you were worried this woman was going to create a situation that would threaten your job security (by blaming you for incompetence, etc) she has now done it. You walked straight into a trap -- not her. Even tho no one else likes her, I bet dollars to donuts :lol: that the principle will look upon this as a failure on your part to deal with things like an "adult". Teachers support other teachers when push comes to shove. Period. They are like cops. Think about that before you go too far with this.

If I were you, I would do a genuine (seeming) about face, apologize to her, and come up with some compromise that makes it seem like she got everything she wants. From now on, be as nice as possible. Pretend you freaking think she is a nice person who deserves friendliness and respect**.

And remember: those people do not care about being lectured on "best practices" by some kid. That is your problem. It may seem very important and reasonable to you, but big deal. Would you be surprised to learn that some people will just wait for the opportunity to tell you everything you think is right and true and just and logical or whatever is not? That's life. The human world does not revolve around good judgement and making sense. It doesn't even matter if they agree with your logic in secret; it's about EGO and you have asserted yours BIG TIME which means CONFLICT. Be a man, bow out, practice humility. It's good for you.

On the plus side: you have now made this a public issue. Everyone knows. So if at some point she does try to make you look like a screw up, that will help mitigate whatever irrationality may occur.

(Of course, that's easy for me to say, like I said, I threw my whole degree away, kind of, because I don't want those politics and stresses -- I wasted my childhood on it already.)

* eg, we need to cut costs, fire the computer guy, he's a loser anyway, we can contract out or share one tech between several schools.
** hey now here's a trip: imagine in time she loosens up and you could teach her about the damn computer network. Sorry, I'm a "happy ending" kind of guy. :mrgreen:
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Post 3+ Months Ago

While I agree with you on many points, I also disagree on on a few.

I really want to get tough with this lady. At my last job, I worked in city hall under a retired Marine Corps major. He didn't take any crap from anybody. In fact, one lady ran out of our office in tears after a conflict with him, and the next day she announced that effective the end of the week she officially resigns. She was only a cashier for municipal light & water, but still my boss was the reason she quit. I learned from him that toughness gets a lot done, but it doesn't work with everybody. I understand why he was the way he was because I grew up in an army family (my dad spent 25 years active duty), but I can also see it from the civilian side. With this teacher, I think toughness would probably only get me more trouble.

I think the biggest problem with this teacher is that she is highly educated, and she teaches other people in the trade which I practice, whereas I have only an AAS and a few certifications. And to pour salt on an open wound, I'm a mere 23 years old and she just turned 40 (her birthday is a couple days before mine). So I can see where she might feel threatened by the young hot shot who comes in and takes over. The last administrator here gave her special attention, the school counselor here who I have been talking with said it best when she said I don't kiss her ass like the last guy did.

I can't confirm it, but I suspect she may have applied for this job and I may have beat her to it. The people who conducted my interview were the high school principal, the superintendent, and the guy I replaced. But the person who was my primary contact throughout the application process was this teacher, which seems a little odd to me. And last summer a few days before school started, we had a staff meeting with several new employees, so we went around the room introducing ourselves. She introduced herself before me, and part of the introduction was what your job was. She said she was "Technology Coordinator", which is my official job title. She should have said "Business/Technology Instructor". At first I just shrugged it off and I labeled myself as network administrator, which is accurate. So I guess you are right in saying that my ego has been taking over, because a lot lately that brief moment in history has been bugging me.

I think we did actually come to a resolution today though. I wrote a rough draft of an official statement saying that if she wants control of her equipment in the classroom, she gets it 100% with no help from me. I gave it to the principal, and he thought it might come off as offensive to her, so he told me to rewrite it and let her have admin privileges, but make sure she knows that I'll be available for assistance when needed. I made sure it clearly said that when she does needs help, she should submit a formal work order to the office for the superintendent (my boss) to approve and pass on to me. Most of the time she just sends a student to my office for help, and when that happens again I'll tell the student to tell her to submit a work order. Of course I'll use my better judgment on a case by case basis, so if a student comes from her class with something I can fix by just simply typing a command or two then I'll do it. But if it requires ordering new hardware or software, or might mean a couple hours spent in her room, then I'll make sure I have the work order beforehand. Third period tomorrow is her free period, so I'm going to start going to each of the computers in her room and adding a special account in the admin group for her, and I'll change the deep freeze password to one I will tell her. Anything I don't get done during that period I will finish after school. And today I personally told her I would have everything set up for her by the end of the day tomorrow.

So in a way, I bowed down to her and gave her what she wanted, but I also kept a little bit of authority. So since I've made it official that everything I do in there is documented on work orders, if anything gets fudged up big time it will likely fall on her and that will take any blame off me for students not being able to complete their school work. I think giving her what she wanted was the best resolution to our problem.

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