The following Open Letter was recently submitted to the Dear JCPS website.
Topic: Teacher Shortage
Addressed to: JCPS Board Members, Superintendent Donna Hargens
School(s) Affected: All, Especially Academy @ Shawnee
Greetings JCPS Board Members,
As a parent and regular volunteer at the Academy @ Shawnee, I cannot tell you how SHOCKED I was to see the article in the paper about JCPS hiring and subsequently “reassigning” an ex-felon. But not for the reasons you would expect.
SHOCKED that JCPS would remove a quality, hard to find, special needs English teacher from a priority school — one that is already riddled with the district’s highest number of substitute teachers, teacher vacancies and district turnover — so they could replace her with — wait for it — ANOTHER SUB!
SHOCKED that a valued employee, who was honest on her application, who had not violated any policies under her employment with JCPS, and had done her work diligently and professionally, would be so suddenly dismissed when JCPS discovered their own error.
SHOCKED that JCPS board policy is more stringent than that of the state, and that it contains no room for error or second chances, ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that the conviction was non-violent, had nothing to do with children, was 23 years ago, and that she completed all of the necessary requirements of the state standards board to have her license issued in the first place.
SHOCKED that in this current teacher shortage we are not revisiting EVERY POSSIBLE OPTION for finding and keeping quality teachers, including this one.
SHOCKED that a person who is well liked and respected by her peers and students, who paid her debt to society, could experience such cruel treatment from her employer.
SHOCKED that the impact the loss of this valued teacher would have on these special needs students would not take priority over correcting a clerical error.
SHOCKED that a teacher who proved that she had mended her ways, by having successfully taught without issue elsewhere, would be summarily dismissed for no wrongdoing or fault of her own.
This letter from Wendy Hames reiterates many of the concerns I have heard from the community, as well.
I am concerned that decisions continue to be made at the district level with little or no regard for the true bottom-line impact to the stakeholders, especially the STUDENTS, and THIS MUST STOP! Instead of “retraining staff to ensure the same issue does not recur,” please consider revising your board policy IMMEDIATELY to conform to the state guidelines and reinstate this teacher’s employment ASAP. Our students need her — and others like her.