Wednesday, July 10, 2013

School Board Meeting of July 9th with video and commentary featuring the proposal to dismiss teacher Sherrie Martin.

This meeting is one hour and 35 minutes long.The School Board produces great agendas. You can see all of the documents the members of the board sees. Here is the link to the 94-page July 9, 2013 Agenda.

During the awards and recognitions segment, Maplewood Teacher Megan Lawrence is honored for heroic action in saving a student's life. (see 2:05)

Public Comments:
Seven parents speak on behalf of Sherrie Martin, the Teacher at Lockeland Design Center who is facing dismissal. The process of evaluating Ms. Martin is called biased and flawed. Parents heap praise on Ms Martin for her teaching ability. (22:03-41:45) (To see the Tennessean's report of this issue, see the link at the end of this report.)

Routine Governance Issues including approval of the minutes of the last meeting, awarding contracts and change orders to contracts, and approval of settlements and other such stuff takes only about five minutes.

Recommendation to Certify Dismissal Charges for Sherrie Martin starts with a report by Dr. Register. The issue before the board is not to approve dismissal of Ms. Martin but only to certify the charges. Then, if the charges are proven true they would warrant Ms Martin's dismissal and she would have the opportunity to have a hearing before an impartial hearing officer. Parents would be permitted to provide testimony at that hearing. If, Ms Martin disagreed with the outcome of that hearing, then she could still go before the board to plead her case. A court reporter would record the hearing and the board could review what occurred at the hearing.

To see the letter regarding the charges, go to page 79 - 83 in the agenda. She is charged with shouting at students, with texting and checking text messages while administered a test, with speaking in a demeaning manner to students, and with failure to change her behavior. Board member Amy Frogge advocates for the teacher. The vote to certify the charges fails by a vote of four to four. Those voting against certification are Sharon Shentry, Jo Ann Brandon, Jill Spearing and Amy Frogge. Those voting in favor are Alissa Kim, Will Pinkerton, Anna Shepard, and Michael Hayes. (see 46:35-1:02:25)

If I had been on the board, I would have voted to certify. Beyond that however, I think it is absolutely ridiculous that it is so difficult to dismiss an employee. If regular public schools are ever going to have the same kind of impressive success as charter schools or private schools, we will have to have strong administrators and local school autonomy. In my view, the principle should have almost, if not the sole, authority to hire and fire and promote teachers. Individual principals should be held accountable for the performance of his school and he should hold teachers accountable. While we may never get there, we should move in that direction.

The Board votes in favor of a Motion to Conduct a Comprehensive Review of the 2013-2014 Operating Budget.

A Resolution to Evaluate Number of High Stakes Tests Administered to students is deferred one meeting.

During the Directors Report, the Cambridge Program, associated with Cambridge University is explained. This program offers three national and international college-preparatory programs. More than 6000 schools in 160 countries participate in the program. To learn more, see page 86 of the agenda and 1:04:45 in the video.

The Board continues to consider a "balanced calendar" and on Wednesday, July 24th at 5PM there will be a meeting to discuss three proposals.

Below is a Tennessean report about last night's school board meeting:

Nashville school board retains teacher who faced dismissal under new evaluation system

 An award-winning Nashville schoolteacher, flagged by her principal for deficiencies, will remain employed at Metro despite the superintendent’s recommendation that she be fired.(link)

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