The Board of Governors had it right as early as The Chamber of Secrets. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore’s displays of negligence for the majority of his student body demanded attention from the board and his actions in subsequent books are more than enough grounds for dismissal. Let’s dive in to Dumbledore’s tenure and uncover the reasons he should have been fired far earlier than he was:
1. Questionable screening of returning employees
A quick look at Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone will reveal a questionable absence of screening for teacher’s returning to the school. Professor Quirrell returns from some trippy vacations sporting new garb, a sudden speech impediment, and a second voice that he’s occasionally overheard speaking with… But Dumbledore let the welcome banners unfurl?! I know Dumbledore’s a busy man, but that doesn’t mean Hogwarts should neglect face-to-face conferences with each returning teacher. I daresay a brief interview would have been enough for Dumbledore to figure out that Voldemort had latched on to the back half of one of his staff’s brains.
2. Very questionable hiring practices of new professors.
Let’s just start with the obvious: Gilderoy Lockhart. The entire wizarding world bought the lies, so Dumbledore’s not alone, but we’re talking about the supposed greatest wizard in the world. He’s supposed to be savvy, cunning, and intelligent. Couldn’t he cast a questioning eye on some of the grandiose claims of this professor?
And when classes finally began, a simple in-class observation would have revealed Lockhart’s ineptitude. Yet, Dumbledore doesn’t perform the standard observation! No class stop-in’s, no informal surveys of students, nothing! Lockhart quizzes the children on his autobiography in the second class, but that doesn’t raise any red flags for administration!? Come on, Dumbledore! The hiring of this staff member eventually results in the chaotic scene at the end of the second book. Harry and Ron go down into danger with a compulsive liar and hack, who nearly leaves them for dead down in Slytherin’s Chamber of Secrets. Reckless endangerment of students!
Unfortunately, this is just one example. In the third year, he hires Remus Lupin (arguably his best hire until Lupin goes werewolf and attacks students). In year four, he fails to vet an old friend and lets a Death Eater run one of the most important classes. His hand was forced in year five, so we’ll excuse that, but overall the hiring practice display a gross negligence! This is especially disconcerting when we consider how steady the rest of his staff is. McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, and the others? Seasoned veterans who need little management. Most administrators are hiring in anywhere from ten to twenty new staff members each year. Dumbledore has to manage one maybe two each year?! Do your job!
3. Clear favoritism shown to certain students.
Can’t recall any interactions with the Patel sisters. Anyone remember Dean Thomas going up into the headmaster’s office for long, extensive character conferences? Let’s be honest, Harry Potter’s the darling of Hogwarts. In some ways, Malfoy had it right. Dumbledore spent 80% of his time with one student, leaving the others to flounder in their magical beginnings. I can see this as a laissez-faire policy, in which he expects and encourages teachers and parents to do most of the heavy lifting, but if that’s the case, why so much favoritism to Harry? If there’s a No Child Left Behind in the wizarding world, Dumbledore’s ignoring it.
Most of the administrators I know spend long hours at school. They’re there a lot of the time. They get there early, they leave late. It’s very common for them to go home for an hour only to come back for sporting events. Although the early years show a Dumbledore on the scene (and even at quidditch matches), we eventually run into an absent headmaster’s office. Harry can’t get a hold of his mentor. Other professors appear to expect Dumbledore not to be there. In hindsight, we know how busy he was hunting down Voldemort and a handful of precious trinkets, but at the expense of his students? An interim headmaster should have been hired in far sooner for the school to maintain a healthy result for its students.
5. Vague instructions leading to dire consequences.
Dumbledore leaves the Dursley’s with a letter. That’s it. Harry’s hellish, youthful years are completely rocked by the vague parameters given to the Dursley’s. Later, he instructs Harry about the Mirror of Erised, which puts him in danger during his final showdown with Voldemort.
How about the return of the invisibility cloak? Dumbledore’s written note says, “Just in case.” As if Harry needs more incentive to sneak off and do the wrong thing. The examples from this one are endless.
All this to say, the Board of Governors were more than in the right to look into Dumbledore’s reign as the headmaster of Hogwarts. If anything, they failed in their responsibility to have this man removed from his position. Who knows what might have been avoided under the attention of a new headmaster or headmistress?
We may never know.