Evaluations of Sarah's Teaching at Gilbert Public Schools: All Good!

Sarah has been teaching for Gilbert Public Schools for more than six years. Sarah has never had a bad evaluation and she has never been disciplined.

Gilbert Public Schools Statement of Charges against Sarah refer to many incidents that occurred during the 2010-2011 school year. However, Sarah's employment file does not include any documented counseling sessions, reprimands, or warnings ... there are only good evaluations. It is significant that Gilbert Public Schools renewed Sarah's annual teaching contract at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

 

Instead of following dismissal prerequisites and procedures outlined in state law, Gilbert Public Schools zoomed straight to dismissal after Sarah reported bullying, racial discrimination and retaliation. The bullying, racial discrimination and retaliation were not addressed.

So how did Sarah end up in the middle of dismissal procedures? Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dave Allison threatened to make public charges against Sarah if she would not resign and drop her claims against the district -- specifically, the charge Sarah had filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Sarah refused to resign because she did not do anything wrong.

Sarah's employment file includes:

Sarah's Self Assessment for the 2010-2011 school year gives a candid snapshot of a sterling teacher's classroom performance. It's a lot easier to read than the formal evaluation. Sarah's Self Assessment for 2009-2010 offers even more insight into what goes in an elementary school classroom.

Read Sarah's End of Year Evaluation for the 2010-2011 school year. Not one single item is marked below standards. Quick summary of the five standards evaluated:

  1. Commitment to students and their learning -- Above Standards (3 points)
  2. Instructional and content knowledge -- Exceeds Standards (5 points)
  3. Facilitation and assessment of student learning -- Above Standards (3 points)
  4. Professional development -- Exceeds Standards (5 points)
  5. Professional characteristics -- At Standards (1 point)

Sarah wrote a disagreement with this end of year evaluation. Read Sarah's Disagreement here.

About Standard 5:

I believe your statement is inaccurate and based on a comment from the psychologist rather than your own knowledge. I submit that I complied with your directive and that of the school psychologist to "prep parents" when I explained to the child's mother that "***** may or may not qualify, and that Special Ed would be only for the subjects ***** qualified in (most likely *****, if anything.) Also I told her Vicki thought SpEd might protect ***** in older grades and Jr. High/High School." As evidence, my emails in September and October 2010 to the school psychologist are attached. [Referenced emails here and here.]

Sarah did not know at the time that attorney Denise Lowell-Britt, the lawyer who told Sarah she was an independent and impartial investigator, wrote the text for Principal Vicki Hester's comments for Standard 5. Read the email from Denise Lowell-Britt to Vicki Hester here. The text attorney Denise Lowell-Britt wrote in an email labeled "attorney-client privileged" appears in Sarah's evaluation under Standard 5, the lowest rating Sarah received. Denise Lowell-Britt's email continues:

Vicki - After thinking about the question you raised during our phone call, I think that until the investigation is complete, it may be best not to include reference to the matters that Sarah is so vehemently contesting. If need be later, the District can create documentation that reflects that the matters raised in the April 4 letter of direction were not included in the evaluation because they were contested and the investigation did not conclude prior to the time of her evaluation. [emphasis added]

One would think GPS would not rely on documentation created after attorney Denise Lowell-Britt concluded her "independent and impartial investigation" for the district's case against Sarah. It appears that one would be wrong.

One would think that an attorney working as an "independent investigator" would not give legal advice to the person being investigated. It appears that one would be wrong.

About Principal Vicki Hester's Summary Comments:

Your statement that I "volunteered to write our A+ Schools application this year" is not true. I did not volunteer. When you made this assignment, you knew that I could not refuse. You also knew that writing this application would take precedence over my teaching duties when you signed the five absence approval forms I submitted in November 2010. Because I already have addressed this in my response to Ms. Blanchard's Letter of Direction and the matter presently is under investigation for the district by an attorney, I am forced now to dispute your statement that I volunteered to write the A+ Schools application.

One of the charges is "Ms. Green accused Principal Hester of abusing her authority by assigning Ms. Green a crushing workload over the course of over four months with the assignment to write the school's application for the A+ Schools Award."

It is significant that independent attorney-investigator Denise Lowell-Britt concluded following her investigation: "In fact, Ms. Green approached Principal Hester and said she would be willing to write the application and was excited to do it."

What is amazing is that Gilbert Public Schools principals assign non-teaching duties to teachers, knowing that those duties will take a teacher out of the classroom. The prize for the A+ School designation is $500. Although Sarah's application won a site visit by the A+ Schools evaluation committee, Meridian Elementary School is not an A+ School.

About Principal Vicki Hester's Summary Comments:

Sarah also disagreed with Vicki Hester's impetuous misuse of ATI Student Benchmark data in her evaluation:

You wrote: "According to ATI Benchmark data, out of 25 students total, 15 students are "On Course" to meet the standards in AIMS Reading and Literature. ATI Benchmark data shows that 4 students are "On Course" to meet the standards in AIMS Math. Two students are on track to exceed the standards in Math." You did not show me any reports you relied on for this data, and I have not been able to substantiate your statements in reports that I accessed.

During the conference, your statement was very different from what you wrote:

"I put a statement about ATI Benchmark data in all the -- everybody's evaluation this year because year after next a component of the evaluation will be based on data and I didn't know what kind, but I thought I'd put something about data in here, so I picked ATI. And so according to ATI Benchmark data, out of 25 students total, 15 students were on course to meet the standards in AIMS Math. Two students are on track to exceed the standards in Math. And so I thought that was a really nice result."

There is no correlation between effectiveness as a teacher and the data you selected. Further, the data cannot support your conclusion "that was a really nice result." Your reference to a future requirement, "year after next a component of the evaluation will be based on data and I didn't know what kind" does not justify misusing student achievement assessments for teacher evaluation. Jason Kane Feld, Ph.D., Vice President, Corporate Projects, Assessment Technology Incorporated, stated that ATI Benchmarks are not intended for teacher evaluation. He added that ATI Benchmark data should not be used to compare teachers, either. His company presently is developing assessment instruments to comply with various states' new laws requiring teacher evaluations to include student data. [emphasis added]

During our conference, you said you included ATI Benchmark data in "everybody's evaluation this year." Your sudden and unannounced use of student achievement assessments in teacher evaluation does not comply with district policy and regulations in GCO-E: "Annually each certified employee shall be advised of the specific criteria upon which observations and evaluations are to be based before the evaluation cycle begins." I believe impetuous misuse of assessment data taints all your teacher evaluations because they will be used for administrative decisions such as employment and assignment, granting continuing status, promotion, demotion, or termination. This is a liability for the district that requires immediate remedy.

One would think that GPS superintendents or the Gilbert Education Association would be concerned about misusing student assessment data to evaluate teachers and rely on such misused data to make critical employment decisions. Again, one could be wrong.

*******

Highland Park Elementary School Principal Jason Martin made two observations of Sarah's classroom teaching performance in 2011.

Walk Through Observation, August 30, 2011: In this unscheduled assessment, Jason Martin asked questions about the 14 minutes of teaching that he observed:

  • So do students get the worksheet once they have done a problem on the board? I am thinking they get a problem based on something they missed on their homework.
  • Also, what computer program are students using?

Sarah's response:

Rounding is traditionally very difficult for third graders, and they each get confused in their own special way. Each week, I give a preview test for the next week, so I already knew on Monday that about 5 kids already are good at rounding. They will do the work with us, but also do the Millionaire Math place value packets which arrived today after recess.

Yesterday, I assessed the students at the beginning of the lesson, then taught according to their needs. That got about 3 more students to understand complex rounding. Then, we did a little more math after lunch to help the confused students. At the end of the day, I wrote my own rounding quiz (not graded) for an assessment.

I was pulling students for rounding help based on how they did on yesterday's assessment. After helping the first few who were close -- watching them was like a warm-up for the others -- I pulled the last 9 die-hards for extra intensive help.

By the end, all but 4 understood the concept.

This is why we spend a week on rounding!

On Thursday, I signed up for extra rounding fun in the computer lab using several different rounding games. I can send you the links if you'd like. They really helped my students last year.

Hope this clarifies an unusual math lesson.

[Note: Sarah's blog post showing parents how to teach rounding can be found here.]

Principal Jason Martin also made a Formal Observation, October 19, 2011Notice that comments are innocuous, nothing critical. It is significant that one of the charges against Sarah is that she "allowed her father to come into the classroom during her observation to switch the videotape."

Sarah videotaped this lesson, having been tipped off by a former third grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary School that it would be necessary. The former teacher resigned at the end of the school year in which she was employed at Highland Park Elementary School -- she had been transferred from another school and was subjected to much the same treatment by principal Jason Martin as Sarah experienced. It is worthy of note that the former teacher is an African-American woman who filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Jason Martin and Gilbert Public Schools. The former teacher warned Sarah to videotape her formal observations as evidence, because Sarah would need it later.

Sarah also recorded her conference with Jason Martin where he discussed the lesson that he had observed. It was equally innocuous. Listen to the audio recording and read the transcript.


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Gilbert Public Schools, Arizona Anti-Bullying Law, racial discrimination, elementary school bullying, classroom bully, GPS, Superintendent Dave Allison, Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Nikki Blanchard, Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord, Highland Park Elementary School principal Jason Martin, Meridian Elementary School principal Vicki Hester, GPS, Gilbert Education Association, attorney Denise Lowell-Britt, Udall, Shumway & Lyons, Mesa, attorney Matthew W. Wright, Holm Wright Hyde & Hays, Phoenix, attorney Donald Peder Johnsen, Gallagher & Kennedy, Phoenix, Civil rights, violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 703, national origin discrimination, retaliation for engaging in protected activities, retaliation for association with protected persons, illegal retaliation, hostile work environment, harassment, dismissal of certificated teacher, Arizona Revised Statutes, ARS 15-539, Arizona Civil Rights Act, Arizona Attorney General, Arizona Civil Rights Division, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, General Prohibition Against Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, fire teacher, National Board Certified Teacher, dismiss teacher for reporting bullying and racial discrimination, defamation, destroying a teacher's reputation, Gilbert Unified School District, GUSD, due process, gilbertschools.info