WHITEHALL | Two tenured Whitehall teachers have been suspended with pay, as the district seeks to fire them for their role in causing a security problem with Common Core state tests.
Interim Superintendent William Scott announced Wednesday that the teachers were placed on paid leave effective Tuesday.
The state Education Department has invalidated Whitehall students’ scores for the grades seven and eight English language arts exams because of an unspecified issue with security of the exams.
Scott said Thursday he was not able to specify the allegations against the teachers because he was not involved in the investigation. He does not believe any disciplinary actions will be brought against other employees, he said, unless other allegations are brought up during this process.
Whitehall will continue to pay the salary and benefits of the teachers, whose names were not released, as it pursues a formal process known as 3020-a to fire tenured teachers.
Scott said new legislation took effect on July 1 to expedite the hearings to fire tenured teachers.
“It’s speeded up the process much more than it used to be. Before, it could take two or three years,” he said.
Now, hearings are conducted before a single hearing officer. Also, the teacher must disclose witnesses that will be called in his or her defense, according to the New York State Education Department website.
The district is also paying the salary of former Whitehall Junior-Senior High School Principal Kelly McHugh, who agreed to resign for her role in this incident. As part of a settlement, McHugh will be paid until her resignation takes effect on March 1 and will continue to receive benefits. McHugh’s annual salary is $92,596, so that means she will be paid about $62,000 for nine months of not working.
Scott said, contrary to what school officials believed before, the state Education Department is not going to provide the district with a completed report about the investigation at this point.
“We keep waiting for the report and that’s not something they do,” he said.
Instead, the state is pursuing a parallel disciplinary process called a Part 83.
“Part 83 addresses morality, so it could be any range of interpretation of morality — lying and cheating,” he said. “They’re two separate laws and separately addressed.”
The law (Part 83) states a person’s teaching certificate can be suspended or revoked if there is information indicating the person "has been convicted of a crime, or has committed an act which raises a reasonable question as to the individual’s moral character.”
The matter can then be referred to the State Education Department’s Office of Teaching Initiatives for a professional conduct officer to review. A hearing may also be held on the issue if requested by the teacher or the school district.
The law states that teachers are presumed to lack good moral character if they are convicted on a drug charge, any crime involving the sexual abuse of a minor or student, or a crime conducted on school property while teaching. The teacher is free to rebut that during a hearing.
The teacher has 30 days to appeal any decision of the hearing officer or board.
Scott said he believes a report will be provided when everything is concluded. He said the state has told the district that Whitehall needs to pursue its own charges against these employees. State officials will use then use the local findings in its own report.
OK, so here's what I gather from this story:
Two teachers were accused of cheating on the state tests.
They've been removed from the classroom but are still on the payroll.
There was an investigation by NYSED, which then invalidated the test scores, but NYSED is not going to provide the report of that investigation to the local district.
For some reason, the district "keeps waiting for the report" but that isn't something NYSED will give them.
Gee, that makes sense.
Instead there are "parallel"disciplinary processes, with the local district pursuing expedited 3020a removal for the teachers while the state pursues a Part 83 disciplinary process, which addresses the "moral character" of these teachers.
Despite the state pursuing the Part 83 disciplinary process, the state says the local district must still pursue its own charges against these teachers - thus the parallel 3020a proceedings.
Once the 3020a proceedings are completed, the state will then use that "report" as part of the Part 83 process.
After everything is said and done the interim superintendent says "he believes a report will be provided when everything is concluded."
Gee, I'm so glad that's all clear now.
Franz Kafka, party of one, we have your cell.
That whole "Part 83" thing is confusing. I thought that one had to be convicted in a court of law to be considered for "Part 83". If these teachers are simply fired via 3020A but not arrested and convicted of changing grades, then how can they have their teaching license takes away?ReplyDelete
I am so sick of SED, the Board of Regents, the state legislature and Cuomo. My response to verbally trash all of them to everyone I know whenever the opportunity presents itself, to write to the nine Long Island state senators and tell them they are all jackasses, to vote against my own state legislators and to write to Regent Roger Tilles, who represents LI and tell him he is useless.ReplyDelete
Part 83 is the new scam between districts and SED. In my district a teacher did something that years ago would have possibly resulted in a slap on the wrist. The district never brought formal 3020a charges, but instead reported him to the state for a possible Part 83 hearing, which of course followed. The result is he lost his certificate so he lost his job. It's an end run around 3020a.ReplyDelete
Here is where you can get a further explanation of Part 83.
Anon 9:56 is correct.Delete
Usually the school district must bring 3020-a charges and the State arbitrator must find the educator guilty of major misconduct before an Article 83 hearing is held.
The major misconduct is usually a criminal act, sexual misconduct with a student, or phyysical violence. The result is almost always termination as the 3020-a hearing report is the main evidence used.
Now it seems that the SED is using the Article 83 process to go after educators for other issues and not even waiting for the school district to initiate 3020-a charges just to terminate the teacher as quickly as possible.charges
Chaz, what would be some of the "offenses" a district could site to go after a teacher via Article 83 instead of going after a teacher directly with a 3020A? In other words, what types of trivial behavior would a district believe is worthy of an Article 83?Delete
Think about it. Poor moral character opens the door to a lot of possibilities. And you don't just get terminated. They actually take your certificate. Old law resurfaces to do their dirty work. I guess they think they're being creative.ReplyDelete
How about poor moral character for an administrator, such as a principal?ReplyDelete
Principal falsified excessing documents for an assistant principal and a teacher. They each found out about this several years later, both inadvertently. Same principal assaulted an aide in front of a cafeteria full of young students, teachers, and aides. All staff that wrote witness statements were subsequently accused of corporal punishment. Sole teacher who provided a witness statement went to the rubber room, was fined, now working as an ATR. Brief snapshot of environment this principal has created.
Is this fuel for an Article 83?
The lesson learned here is that every single teacher in NYS must ensure that they do not partake in anything that could be deemed "immoral". That means not hanging out with friends that could get you in trouble. It also means that teachers better be careful about what types of photos they put up on social media. Even legal things like going to a topless beach could probably be seen as "immoral" by NYSED. There has never been a more curial time for teachers to look over their shoulders at all times. Trust NO ONE. If you think you might try something risqué in your personal life, I would suggest against it. It is such a sad state of affairs but welcome to the Orwellian world of the NYSED.ReplyDelete
I guess it is better to be the Principal in Whitehall. No 3020-a, no Part 83.Delete
Here is a link to a May 14th article from the local paper that might explain things. There is a lot more to this story.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the link Nick. A football coach was fired for using foul language? Would it be possible to fire some of my students for cursing all day long?Delete
The State is doing witch hunts on many of these teachers as pertained to cheating on the common core testing. It's disgusting. Teachers are presumed guilty right off the bat. Something needs to be done.ReplyDelete
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