School Board meeting not ‘the time or place’ to discuss confidential personnel matter of Teach for America instructor, says Harriet Tubman Principal
By Doug Porter
I didn’t write the headline for today’s column. It’s a headline at Education Week, a nationally recognized print and digital (edweek.org) publication. With a staff of over 70 and budget of over $13 million annually, it’s hardly the product of some basement blogger. Amazingly, it’s about a story nobody else in the San Diego media seems to have covered.
The EdWeek story is about a meeting of the San Diego Unified School Board on Tuesday, March 11th. The charter for the Harriet Tubman Village Charter School was up for renewal. A group of parents, teachers and students wearing blue bravely stood up before the Trustees and proceeded to raise serious questions about the way the school is operated.
Accusations were made suggesting violations of both the Education Code and State Law by the school’s administration. And the suggestion was made that the bullying tactics and leadership style at Harriet Tubman contributed to the death of Sarah Jenkins, “a young, bright, dedicated, caring first year teacher at Tubman.”
Here’s a portion of the testimony of 8th grade teacher Clarisa Mondejar, as transcribed from a video of the meeting by Anthony Cody:
When administration had concerns about Sarah’s abilities and performance they did not provide support for her or guidance. Instead they piled more and more work on, called her names, and criticized her at every single turn. On October 24th, Sarah wrote an email to the administration informing them that she had a medical condition that made it difficult to meet their excessive demands. She ended the email by begging for positive support, writing “being kind, helpful and specific helps me better myself. But calling me incompetent is not helpful but rude and unprofessional.”
The next day, Sarah was terminated, which I believe is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sarah passed away three weeks ago from complications of stress-related seizures. When administrators found out we did not receive support or compassion. Instead we were told to not share this information with students, not with parents, that Sarah was only at our school for two months, and at the end of the day she didn’t make an impact.
The video of the school board meeting lasts for for more than two hours. The 1hr, 54 min mark is where the testimony begins, the ensuing (and angry) school board discussion starts at about the 2 hr 20 min mark.
Here’s Whitney Carpenter, 7th grade teacher:
We apologize that we have not spoken earlier, as we are a staff that exists in fear of bullying, retaliation and losing our jobs.
Back to the Edweek account (empasis mine):
After the teachers spoke, several parents addressed the board as well, including two who voiced support for the principal. The principal spoke defiantly, reciting their test scores and attendance statistics. “I cannot apologize for putting children first because that is what I signed up to do. Today is not for talk about one confidential personnel matter involving a Teach For America teacher. This is not the time or place for it.”
Janelle Ruley, the attorney representing the charter school, took the mic and stated, “As a reminder, the District must consider, must consider, increases in pupil academic achievement as the most important factor for renewal.“
Board members Richard Barrera and Scott Barnett give impassioned speeches after learning that the Trustee’s hands were tied. Their choices were limited to approving the charter renewal or denying it, which would close the school down. None of those giving testimony wanted that to happen. They did direct the district staff to further investigate and report back to them in April. At that point SDUSD’s only option will be to initiate expensive and time consuming legal action to de-certify the school.
I’m sure there is more to this story. My question today is “Why the hell didn’t this episode get any coverage in the local media?” Anybody? Are charter schools really that much of a sacred cow?
UPDATE: Chris Bertelli w/ Teach for America has added a comment saying Ms. Jenkins was not a TFA teacher.
Another SDPD Sex Crime Alleged
This item didn’t make the Daily Fishwrap, which confirms my suspicion that we’re all expected to ignore the SDPD’s past activities because we have a new chief of police.
I’m going to keep bringing these new episodes up because I’m supportive of the demand by past victim “Jane Doe” that an outside monitor be brought in to investigate the SDPD.
If this newest allegation doesn’t gross you out, nothing will.
Some graphic details about allegations against Christopher Hays, the former San Diego police officer at the center of a sex scandal, are now coming to light.
Dan Gilleon, a local attorney for three of seven alleged victims told 10News on Thursday that one of his clients claims Hays blocked a doorway, opened his pants and performed a sex act in front of her — forcing her to watch. The incident reportedly happened last June during a domestic violence call.
“She is a long-term victim of domestic violence and in this particular case, the police went to her house to save her after being beat up,” Gilleon said. “And they found the person that was beating her up — he was on the roof — and it was a big scene. And they took him away and all the police left, except for Mr. Hays.”
UT on New OT Rules: Cry Me A River…
As predicted in this space earlier in the week, the nattering nabobs of trickle down economics have gone on the war path over President Obama’s decision to have the Labor department change the rules that have allowed employers to deny overtime pay to workers simply by changing their job title.
The UT-San Diego, owned by a man whose continuing enrichment depends of this sort of exploitation, has gone ballistic in today’s sermon from Mission Valley. We’re told this action is almost.as.bad.as–gasp–
…consider the effect the rules would have on an absolutely crucial category of workers: the ambitious go-getters who don’t care how many hours they work because they’re so determined to do a great job and move up quickly. Such workers would suddenly become a legal risk.
Why on Earth would our government want to discourage such productive passion?
Because it is led by people who fret about income inequality but are indifferent to millions of people making the impoverishing decision to leave the workforce. Because it is led by people who claim to want well-paying jobs but pass a law — Obamacare — that gives tens of thousands of big companies major financial incentives to shift workers from full-time to part-time status. Because it is led by people who look at the feeblest economic recovery in U.S. history and shrug it off as the “new normal” and something for which they bear no responsibility.
Yes…Why on earth…. Could it be that so many employers have little regard for their employees no matter how hard they work?
From today’s New York Times:
McDonald’s workers in California, Michigan and New York filed lawsuits this week against the company and several franchise owners, asserting that they illegally underpaid employees by erasing hours from their timecards, not paying overtime and ordering them to work off the clock…
….All told, seven lawsuits have been filed, including one against the roughly 100 McDonald’s restaurants in California that are company-owned and operated. That lawsuit aims to be a class action representing 27,000 current and former McDonald’s employees.
The lawyers said most McDonald’s franchisees used software provided by the company that calculates employee-to-sales ratios and instructs restaurants to reduce staffing when sales drop below a certain level in any given hour. As a result, the lawyers said, some McDonald’s workers in the suit were ordered, upon reporting to work, not to clock in for an hour or two and instead wait until more customers arrived.
In several lawsuits, workers contend that they were at times told to clock out but remain in the restaurant or parking lot for an hour to two after business slowed down — perhaps when business slackened after the breakfast rush — so they could be on hand to clock back in when hourly sales picked up.
Another Mess for DA Dumanis
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis pledged back in 2007 not endorse political candidates except under unusual circumstances, telling the press that public corruption probes were difficult enough “without the possibility of having our motives questioned or impaired by politics.”
That didn’t stop her from endorsing San Diego County Clerk Ernie Dronenburg for re-election this year. In fact, she endorsed him even before (April 2013) he filed paperwork to run, back in October.
The ‘unusual circumstances’ surrounding that endorsement stem from Dronenburg’s asking the California Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages last July after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s ruling that invalidated Proposition 8, a measure that outlawed same-sex marriages. Dumanis, by the way, is gay.
Dumanis says she voiced her disappointment and concerns directly to Dronenburg about his petition to halt gay weddings. She said he assured her his actions were not “anti-gay, but rather an attempt to clarify the law.”
“As a member of the LGBT community, I continue to be a strong supporter of equality and same-sex marriage,” Dumanis said in a written statement.
Really? Perhaps she can explain this, from SDGLN.com:
San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg outed himself Friday for all the world to see that he is a flaming homophobe.
The 69-year-old Dronenburg teamed up with noted anti-gay attorney Charles LiMandri from Rancho Santa Fe to petition the California Supreme Court to halt same-gender marriages because they believe that Proposition 8 is the law.
LiMandri, who was a prominent supporter of the discriminatory Prop 8 that took away same-gender marriage rights from Californians from 2008 until last month, is known to take any case that involves denying equality to LGBT Americans. On the Human Right Campaign’s NOM Exposed blog, LiMandri is called NOM’s nakedly hostile Founding Father.
Activist People’s Ball: It’s a Party
Community supported KNSJ Radio and Activist San Diego are throwing their 13th annual concert, dance party and fundraiser this weekend. It’s a gala event celebrating community radio featuring former Air America host John Elliot as emcee and music by Liquid Blue.
Ticket are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Showtime is 7pm on Saturday (March 15th) at the World Beat Center (2100 Park Ave, San Diego). For tickets or further information call 619-871-9354 or email them at email@example.com
Does Today Seem a Little Punny to You?
It’s national PI day!
On This Day: 1743 – First American town meeting was held at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. 1914 – Henry Ford announced the new continuous motion method to assemble cars. The process decreased the time to make a car from 12½ hours to 93 minutes. 1956 – The movie “Rock Around the Clock” (with Bill Haley) made its premier in Washington, DC.
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