Friday, June 22, 2007

Breaking

From today's Birmingham News, the real story that's been lurking behind the scenes for months finally sees the light of day:
A math teacher at Hoover said Thursday a final grade was changed for one of his students, a senior football player, without his consent. And an assistant superintendent for Hoover schools confirmed that a teacher came to her this year concerned about losing a job over another senior football player's grade.
...

A Hoover teacher in February met with Assistant Superintendent Jan Dennis and said she felt pressure over an athlete's grades and was concerned about losing her job, according to Dennis, who is on sick leave until the end of June after the school board fired her in May. Dennis has said the reason she was given for her firing was her friendship with former Superintendent Connie Williams.

The teacher told Dennis an athlete had been transferred into her class and it didn't appear he would make a grade needed to be eligible to play college football, according to Dennis. She would not identify the teacher but said she taught a core academic class. She would also not identify the student.

To be eligible for an athletic college scholarship, athletes must have a certain grade-point average in core classes - English, math, physical/natural science and social science - that corresponds to an SAT or ACT score on a sliding scale.

The teacher, who would have earned tenure if she were renewed this year, was not renewed by the school board, Dennis said.

The teacher said she understood the expectation was that the athlete had to make a B, but she thought that was unlikely even with the extra help she was giving him, Dennis said.

Dennis said the teacher told her she asked for an administrative meeting to talk about expectations and how the student was doing. At the meeting, an administrator said the student needed to make a B in her class, but no plan was offered for how to achieve that, Dennis said she was told.

"My advice to her at that point was, `Help him like you help all your other students. Keep documentation about what you're doing. Don't do anything unethical to compromise your professional judgment,'" Dennis said. "`But do everything you can to help him achieve the best grade he can achieve in your class.'"

According to Dennis, the teacher later told her that another of the player's instructors informed her in March that the new plan was for the student to get a C, but again without offering a means for that to happen.

"Instead of having to come to the board (central office) to talk with the assistant superintendent about this, ideally she would have been able to go to the principal of the school, but the teacher did not feel comfortable doing this," Dennis said.

The teacher believes she lost her job because she resisted the pressure to give a certain grade, according to Dennis.

Dennis said she is speaking publicly because she believes what happened is wrong, and described the teacher as an "excellent educator."

Bishop said the school system does not have to give a reason for not renewing a teacher who does not have tenure, and said "that's merely speculation on the employee who was not renewed."
Hoover superintendent Andy Craig has hired former federal judge Sam C. Pointer, Jr., an Alabama Law School alumnus, to investigate the matter. Based on information that hasn't gone public yet, there's at least one conflict of interest in Pointer's "independent" investigation, but we'll see where things go from here.

1 comment:

TideDruid said...

Just an FYI, Sam Pointer has represented Auburn in the past (the Ramsey case I believe). Paul Finebaum even claimed that he is very good friends with some AU trustees. He is also an Alabama law school grad. So I don't see much of a conflict of interest.