Bay parents request teacher rehires at WCSB

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by DeFuniak Herald / Beach Breeze, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. DeFuniak Herald / Beach Breeze

    DeFuniak Herald / Beach Breeze Local Media

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    [FONT=&quot]By ASHLEY AMASON[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Superintendent Carlene Anderson congratulated Walton County students, teachers, and administrators on FCAT scores at the June 7 Walton County School Board meeting. Having received the scores earlier that day, the district learned certain grade levels scored as high as third in the state.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]A brief action agenda resulted in the unanimous approval of board member Mark Davis and citizen appointee Rob Neale to serve on the 2011-2012 value adjustment board.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]During public comments, Bay Elementary School (BES) parents Rene Endres and Andrea Miree addressed the board, along with Jose Perez, husband of an annual contract BES teacher.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Endres alleged “We’ve had the recent budget cuts…the school district, the superintendent, and the principals, they’ve let go of Bay teacher of the year, the two teachers with the highest third grade FCAT scores that increased by 6 percent over last year…and when Carlene is congratulating people on the FCAT, two of these teachers scored best in the district, their students did. That doesn’t sound quite like it’s making the best decision [in] the interest of the students, or Bay in general…With all the vacancies that are now at Bay, due to five people letting go, two transfers, the principal is going to have to hire teachers. So why would they let the best teachers go? When you do that, the difference between hiring a new teacher with zero to one year experience and keeping a fourth-year teacher is less than $1,000, I believe. So as PTO board president, is there any way we could have recouped those fees to help the teachers, make up the difference where they didn’t have to be fired? These teachers have had the most professional and accomplished evaluations, have excellent work ethic, have put in the years of dedication into this district and why they were chosen to be let go is mindboggling…they’re almost getting tenure and they’re let go right before they’re about to get tenure. I’m confused on how that decision was made, why it was made when there could’ve been other ways to handle that.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Anderson replied, “When we talk about letting people go or being fired, only the board can give the final approval on hiring and terminating. Anyone else up to this point that has not been recommended back may not have been recommended back for several reasons…as far as specifics, I couldn’t talk about teachers specifically unless those teachers allowed me to do that…the board hasn’t terminated anyone, so no one has been fired. Under annual contract, [which] are the only teachers we are talking about, the contract is one year. When the contract ends, it ends. There is no firing, there is no letting go, there is just ‘the contract is up, we thank you for your year of service.’” Now can they be rehired, yes. Could they be, absolutely, at the discretion of the recommendation of the principal to me to this board and the board makes the final decision. But no one has been terminated at this point because that has to come to this board…All annual contract teachers receive [a letter] in this district…stating their contract ended…Based on budget considerations which we just discussed tonight [principals] can hire some people back if they need them based on class-size reduction...but they’ve just been given the go to hire back those people who they need and who they choose based on performance…the budget hasn’t been set, it’s only been discussed once with this board.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Endres clarified, “So what you’re telling me is the teachers that were let go were asked not to come back. I’m confused then because the teachers are under the impression they’ve been formally let go.” Anderson interjected, “They were not let go. Their contract expired.” She continued, “Our relationship with an annual contract employee after one year is done…We may choose to rehire them, but that will come as a recommendation from the principal to me and me to this board…annual contract can be rehired at that school, another school, or anywhere throughout the district. However, they may not be rehired at all because their contract expired and no one chooses to bring them back.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Endres said, “Well as a Bay parent, I recommend these teachers be reinstated because they’re amazing. And if there is a [financial] difference, if there is something we can work out with the PTO board to keep them there, if there is something that we can use our funds or fundraising because south Walton can raise some money. We would like to keep them. If there is something, we can let go of the librarian and that fat paycheck she gets. Get her out of there and I’ll find somebody….” [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Board Chairperson Sharon Roberts stated, “The board has not terminated or told anyone to go home at this time.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Jose Perez, husband of one of the Bay teachers in reference, broke into tears, and sobbed, “Where are the checks and balances in this school district? How can the sole decision of letting go phenomenal teachers who dedicate their time and love to their profession, never are behind on a deadline. My wife works 60-hour weeks at Bay Elementary. She’s the school improvement chair…she has done everything she can for those kids and for her to be told by the principal she’s being cut because of budget? We could have taken a pay-cut rather than not having any funds. She has dedicated her life to these kids, to her classroom, to her school for four years. She has just asked to be renewed. Because she is not being renewed she no longer has tenureship. She has worked so hard for this tenureship. The school district asked the citizens of Walton County to pass the half-mill referendum to keep these teachers’ jobs. Why are you letting these teachers go? They haven’t been renewed. They were told they’re gone…these four teachers were seeking their fifth year. They were going to get their tenureship but they’ve been let go so they’re not going to get it now.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Roberts requested Perez make an appointment with the superintendent. “I am so sorry for your situation…The superintendent cannot even discuss your wife’s position with you unless your wife is with you” she said.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]BES parent Andrea Miree told the board, “I too have been very upset and shocked by what we consider firing, but as you’re saying they were just not recommended to be rehired at this point. They were asked to leave and take their stuff, where there [are] other teachers on annual contracts that were not asked to do so, so that’s where we see the difference. So my question would be, how many other teachers that are on annual contract have been recommended not to be rehired, if that is a number you can give us? Especially, I’d be interested in that number, maybe, at Butler…I too am very concerned that the ESE teacher, we only have one at Bay, as far as we knew was asked to leave and was not going to be renewed. Are we planning on having ESE services at Bay...This ESE teacher is teacher of the year. I have worked with her because of my son for the last several years and I know the dedication, I know the great evaluations. It’s not a job to her. It is a calling, and it is so hard to find good ESE teachers. They burn out easily and they go into the regular classroom. It’s very hard to teach these children who all learn so differently. And with her commitment to do so, and to give me everything I need at home as a parent to try to teach my child, I could not recommend anyone more highly. I just ask to please consider rehiring her….”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]“ESE students, by law and by the right thing to do, will have an ESE teacher. We have to serve [them]. Absolutely, so do not fear we will not have an ESE teacher. We will.” Anderson said.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The meeting adjourned after the board scheduled several workshops. A workshop will be held at 4 p.m. on June 21 to discuss an easement at Freeport High School as well as tenure, which will no longer be offered after July 1 in light of a bill signed by Governor Rick Scott. At 5 p.m. on June 30, the year-end budget amendments meeting will be held.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]A budget workshop will be held July 11 at 4 p.m. to discuss general operating funds and at 5 p.m. to discuss capital outlay funds.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The next meeting of the WCSB is June 21 at 5 p.m. at the DeFuniak Springs Tivoli Complex.[/FONT]
     
  2. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Thanks for this information. I have been hearing a lot about this from concerned parents who have good relationships with their teachers and who have always worked with teachers to help build a good school. I still don't have the facts but it is starting to sound very strange. It does not reflect well on the leadership of Walton County schools. If we do not support our best teachers then our schools are done. Parents and teachers cannot work together to build great schools in this kind of environment. This just does not sound right.
     
  3. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    The article raised some red flags for me too - seemed that the semantics about "fired" versus "annual contract not renewed" were more of an issue to the board than the fact that teachers who have demonstrated their value will not be back.

    It seems very shortsighted if tenure and its associated higher costs were the reasons why they are gone (feel free to insert your own proper verbage that means they no longer work there, as that isn't the point). That does seem to be the common denominator.

    Obviously there is more to the story, but why else would the teachers whose classes did the best and who won awards be the ones who aren't coming back?

    All I hear about is the damn FCAT and how hard it is, yet the teachers whose classrooms are doing well by that standard are the ones gone?

    I'll gladly pay more taxes to retain goods teachers - especially since it sounds like the difference is a couple bucks per taxpayer. IMO the best teachers tend to be the ones with more experience - years of experience and proven results trumps fresh out of school and an unknown.
     
  4. clam lee

    clam lee Beach Crab

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    Bay Parents Request Teacher Rehires

    This article is truly shocking and disturbing to say the least. What happened to the principal making decisions in the best interest of student achievement? Not only the best interest of student achievement, but in the best interest of the school as a community... it sounds like these four teachers at Bay were established, respected, and valued members of Bay's community and our SoWal community. I don't think parents would be fighting for them if they weren't!

    Isn't the decision of annual contract teacher renewal made by the the principal??? Why wouldn't a principal want to keep what sounds like some of the top teachers at their school?

    I think the reasoning of budget has already been proven false. According to this posted article and channel 7 news clip the proposed budget only suggested POSSIBLY letting go one position per school...so was budget a truthful reason?

    As a member of this community this absolutely disgusts me!!! What is happening at Bay? It doesn't sound like there was a valid reason to not renew these teachers contracts. Is this a new principal that is making changes in his/her best interest instead of the best interest of the Bay students, parents, and community?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  5. Esther

    Esther Beach Comber

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    The principal at Bay came in last fall after school had started (about October) and it is her first time to be a principal. Bay is hiring for 6 teacher positions for the coming school year, which is a third of the teaching staff. That should look like to everyone that there definitely is a problem. Just looking at FCAT scores, Bay's scores were up 6% over last year and were the top in the distict in many areas. Letting go of the best teachers that have been there and have a proven and successful job performance is definitely not a good decision for the students or the school. It does make me question the decision making and leadership at Bay and at the district. What good teacher is going to want to work at Bay or for Walton County School District if they are going to be let go even if they are high performing? After the school board meeting, the Superintendant, Carlene Anderson, told me and some other parents "the climate at Bay is changing and will never be the same as it used to be." I have had children at Bay for the last 7 years, and it has always been a great school! It is a small school that has always been high performing (A rating) and provided a safe and nurturing learning environment with a lot of parental and community involvement. Why would anyone want to change that?
     
  6. bigskybeachmom

    bigskybeachmom Beach Lover

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    I too am so disheartened by the loss of warmth and trust within the Bay community. These decisions and changes create concern and anxiety among the families and staff. We are dealing with elementary school aged children - they are our babies - there is nothing worse than not trusting the administration that makes decisions for your babies. I have been a very involved parent at Bay for 4 years and have always loved that school. I am saddened that there seems to be a need for "climate change" at Bay, because the climate 5 years ago is the reason I chose to send my children there. The teachers that were released from the school were wonderful. One of them was my child's 3rd grade teacher. She was one of the most professional, kindest, supportive, hard working teachers I have ever encountered. My child loved going to school because of her - that says a lot in my opinion. I am very concerned about the future of Bay. I love that school because of the teachers and the families. Bay deserves to have a principal that puts the students first and makes decisions that will support the best interest of the students. It has been a tough ride these past 4 years, but I never imagined that it would get to this point.
     
  7. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Thanks parents for letting us hear from you. Rene - you did an oustanding job speaking on behalf of teachers at the meeting.

    I hope someone from the school board can help clarify this situation.

    imo, Anderson's response to how teachers' contracts work reveals a lot about how things are done in Walton County and it doesn't sound good or right in any way.
     
  8. playing4possum

    playing4possum Beach Comber

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    It's the same at any other Walton school. It's not what you know or how you perform... it's nasal hairs connected to anal ones, that makes the difference.

    And about ESE, for those concerned...I would call the Dept of Education State Health nurse and ask what the ratio of ESE students/per ESE teacher is and make sure that the school district is towing the line.
     
  9. amarettodiamore

    amarettodiamore Beach Comber

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    I want to thank everyone who is supporting these teachers. There are a lot of questions here that need to be asked of the school principal and the superintendent. All four of the teachers and the custodian were told that the reason their contracts were not being renewed is because of "budget". Each time they asked why they were told because of budget. Not because of performance, not for any other reason. The principal told all of the non tenured teachers in a meeting in a month before the end of school of the possibility of contracts not being renewed. She told them that they would be letting 1st, 2nd, 3rd and then 4th year teachers go in that order. Well when the end of the year came she let only the 4th year teachers go. The reason for this seems to us it keep these teachers from getting tenure.
    Once again these teachers were let go because of budget reason only. So why is it that the week after they were not renewed the principal posted not only those 4 teaching positions, but 2 additional positions, and the custodian position and they were not called back. If these teachers had been offered a position before July 1st they would have been giving tenure. Also a 4th year teacher with an excellent record at Butler Elem. was also not renewed. How many other 4th year teacher in Walton County were not renewed?
    The principal of Bay Elem. lied to these teachers; she and the superintendent have a lot to answer for. I ask that if you are parent of a child who attends Bay Elem., call the principal, call the superintendent, call the school board and demand answers, please. These teachers were wrongfully let go and this can not be allowed to happen.

    The school's phone # is 622-5050
    The superintendent's is 892-1100 Ext 1302

    The next school board meeting in on June 30th @ 12 noon (Fiscal Year-End 2011), and July 11th @ 4p.m. (Budget Workshop).
     
  10. Bobby J

    Bobby J Beach Fanatic

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    This is like deja vu 2003. Everything changes but some things just stay the same...
     
  11. Goddessgal

    Goddessgal Beach Lover

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    Technically, the school district does not have to provide any reason at all when not renewing an annual contract. There is no due process for teachers who are not on "continuing" or "professional" contract. Thanks to the new law just passed, this will become the new norm for teachers who have been employed in FL for less than 4 years by this year. Starting this year, those who do not have the "continued contract" by now will never be eligible for one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  12. amarettodiamore

    amarettodiamore Beach Comber

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    Goddessgal your absolutely correct they don't have to give a reason why, but the principal did give them a reason and the reason was "the position is being eliminated due to budget". One would also think if your going to let teachers go who are not on annual contract wouldn't you start with your weakest teachers? If you were the principal of that school why would you let your School Improvement Team chair, your teacher of the year, and the two teachers with the highest FCAT scores in the district go instead of teachers who were not performing as well? All 4 of these teachers had extremely high evaluations. If these teachers were let go because of the budget why weren't they called back when the principal posted SIX teaching positions? Ask yourself is what is being done in the best interest of those children going to that school?
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  13. Bobby J

    Bobby J Beach Fanatic

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    I hate to tell you all this but this is not the first time a group of wonderful teachers were let go for
    "no reason" in that same location. So sad.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  14. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    There were some comments in the Daily News about that same kind of contract non-renewal going on at Maude Sanders Elementary, so it could be a district-wide policy rather than something to blame on the principal at Bay.
     
  15. lms47

    lms47 Beach Lover

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    Bobby is so right! Back in 2003, an atrocity was done to the education system in Walton County and for no other reason than personal preferences by the administration. Can't fight it!
     
  16. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    So, this is a new law and a new practice?
    very disturbing.
     
  17. Bobby J

    Bobby J Beach Fanatic

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    When we were all going through this last time (2003), I was the PTO president. A good friend of mine tried to warn me. He said they do what they want and there really is nothing we can do about it unless you wanna try to get on the board. I really didn't believe him until I watched all the teachers involved lose their jobs.
     
  18. Alicia Leonard

    Alicia Leonard SoWal Insider

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    I requested a few other articles that our paper did recently on the school board and such. I didn't get them on Friday, but I will post them on Monday as soon as I get them. One that may be of particular intrest is a meeting Sup. Anderson had with our local Tea Party. I'll post them as soon as I can them into my in-box.
     
  19. Camp Creek Kid

    Camp Creek Kid Christini Zambini

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    Can anyone tell me the names of the teachers this thread is discussing? Thanks.
     
  20. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    What, by taking teacher tenure away, teachers can be fired for no reason other than I want it that way. Well surely they are underperforming teachers, sarcasm inferred.
     

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