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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Duval County School Board starts firing teachers

They don’t call it firing, they call it non-reappointing but it means the same thing. But worse than being fired it means you can’t look for a job, well teaching anyways either. Non-reappointed teachers are not allowed to work in the district for a year and it also makes getting jobs in other districts more difficult, after all who wants somebody who has been fired.

Some of you might be thinking; good lets get rid of the bad teachers, the problem with that is many of the teachers being fired aren’t the bad teachers. On the contrary many are good teachers and are being moved out so principals can bring in their favorites from other schools or friends looking for a job or to save a buck. These non-reappointed teachers do have one thing in common and that’s they are mostly young teachers, young teachers who have now had their careers kneecapped, basically over just as it began. This practice is wrong and how do I know it’s wrong? Well keep reading.

According to Vicki Reynolds the districts human resources director the majority of non-reappointed teachers were given satisfactory evaluations, which means by definition their performance, as a teacher was acceptable. If the principal thought they were unsatisfactory they could have been given that rating.

None of the non-reappointed teachers I talked to were given an opportunity to improve. In fact the first inkling that they had that their jobs were in danger was when they were told they were going to be non-reappointed. If we take the principals at face value that means they allowed their students to be taught by bad teachers and did nothing to improve their situations; if we take them at face value that is.

But what’s worse of all is that many of the non-reappointed teachers were not given a reason as to why they were being non-reappointed. That’s right folks, the district does not have to give a reason and when principals were asked, why, that is was they often said. Say the non-reappointment was legitimate, well how are people supposed to improve if they aren’t told what they have done wrong.

Is this starting to sound less like a bad teacher problem and more like a bad administrator problem?

Take the case of Becky Tribble teacher at Fishweir Elementary. Her first two years she received evaluations of high performing, the best evaluations Duval County gives and rare for teachers just starting out to get (Becky had taught before but it was 8 years prior in another county). Suddenly Fishweir gets a new principal and she goes from HP to satisfactory to non-reappointed, fired in the course of a year. How does a teacher go from being one of the best to one of the worse in the course of a year? How does this new principal justify firing one of the best teachers from the previous two years? Oh that’s right she doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to give a reason at all and the district allows this. It’s shameful.

The district has asked the public to contact the state and tell them to do the right thing by properly funding education. I want to do this, I want to stick up for the district and be proud of it but how can I ask the state to do the right thing, how can I be proud of the district when the district doesn’t have to do the right thing and doesn’t see the problem with doing the wrong thing.

Teachers that have satisfactory evaluations shouldn’t be non-reappointed, teachers should be told what they are doing wrong and given a chance to improve and nobody should be fired without a reason given. Imagine if teachers treated their students the same way the district can treat its teachers. I think the city would be angry.

The district calls for the state and community to do what is right. It is time they did so too.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher


  1. Thanks, Chris, your words ring true. If everyone all did the right thing more often, yes, even the School Board, I think things would run more smoothly for everyone.

  2. Chris, the frustrating thing is that what has been the "dirty little secret" of this school system will be business as usual once the new state law that elimated teacher tenure goes into full effect. Veteran teachers will have to make the agonizing decision to opt for the chance to earn higher pay, but forfeit the relative security of tenure. Imagine teachers like us who regularly question the policies of our superiors: we would be the first on the chopping block. My twenty-two years of satisfactory and high performing evaluations mean nothing to a principal who has an axe to grind with me. I am not looking forward to the final third of my teaching career.

  3. The state needs to do the right thing, and that starts with the budget. How would the "powers that be" have gotten to where they are at without a teacher? You hear all the time how the U.S. is falling in their education rating world wide. Firing teachers because they dare to be inovative in their teaching, or because they refuse to give the child chance number 101 is the reason we are falling.

  4. Unfortunately, this has been going on for decades, it isn't just something new. As a former teacher union president, I can tell you that up until the teacher receives a professional services contract (at the end of 3 years), they face dismissal without cause. That's right, fired, given no reason, and labeled as "incompetent." It is sad that the teacher unions have had to fight so hard for other issues (salary, retirement, benefits) that this issue has not been addressed. As a union president I had a new teacher who had successfully completed 3 years of teaching with adequate evaluations. The teacher was not given a professional services contract, but rather was not-renewed. It seems that the principal needed a coach for a specific sport, and this coach was certified in the same area as the teacher who was non-renewed. I knew the principal personally and I asked him what his reasoning was based on. He remarked, I had to have a ....ball coach, and a great one wanted a job. The other teacher is young and will find another job. In fact he offered to call any principal the non-renewed teacher interviewed with to give him the reason. All perfectly legal under Florida Statutes.

  5. I personally think all teachers should not be allowed a contract. I know my son was cussed out and hit by a teacher and I know for a fact there were numerous kids and parents that spoke out about this teacher. He has a contract and he still has a job, cussing out the kids hitting them in the back of the head as an option to a "referral"... Jacksonville Teachers need an overhaul. I have seen it first hand. I am and have been involved with my children. I swear if the Governor gave vouchers... Those teachers would never get my money nor be given a position to teach my children. Awful. I am sorry I am bitter because I have seen it. The good teachers can't teach, and due to tenur,,, they are the first to go... they need to go at the top and work their way down. I am sure the young blood as I call them,, (even people going back to school coming in at a later age is still considered young blood not referring to age) need to be able to come in with the hunger and passion they go into the the degree with. That way it can be payed forward. Not stiffled by Burreaucacy.... You have to be able to captvitate an audience. These teachers I have seen are great at abusing these poor kids. Sad when an entire school looks forward to a MOMMY coming to school to sit in on a class so that the teacher will treat them better. That is sad.... truly Sad. and you know what... I will be there at least once a week next year too. Not just for my kids for all those kids dying for some sort of nice treatment and some sense of self worth. So Sad these schools. I really hope Alvin Brown,, being one of us who grew up in these schools and knows exactly what I am talking about helps this system out. He will go big places if he can fix this system on a local level... I have faith. In God. He will show him the way.

  6. The reason why bad teachers are allowed to continue to teach has nothing to do with the contract. It has everything to do with how well they have sucked up to the administration at their school. There are teachers in my own department who should have been let go years ago. Not only do they do a poor job a teaching, but some can't even operate the grade book properly. They have managed to keep their jobs by either being overly accommodating to the administrators or by volunteering to sponsor clubs and/or events when no one else will. Unfortunately the students in their classrooms suffer-either because they aren't learning anything AND are struggling to pass or they aren't learning anything and getting an A anyways.

  7. on this chris, we agree. if one is terminated, they should be told why. i know a principal will not say "i've got a friend who needs a job", but that's where the NLRB could come into play. the example of the HP to non-reapp. shoulds like something they need to hear about. one thing the DCSB will not tolerate is bad publicity on them. of course that would be counter productive as they would never forget she caused them problems.

  8. Unfortunately, education has become more about the almighty dollar and power than supporting teachers in their craft. I would like to see school board members and Dr. Vitti held to the same standard. Let’s give them an evaluation with 3 parts too. Part 1 - Teacher Ranking Part 2 - Overall District Grade with a projected student growth piece Part 3 - A “Waste Ranking” Let’s calculate all the time and money wasted by the district and compare it as well and see how THEY rank.

  9. I think we tend to forget Florida is an At-Will state. That is not a district issue.

  10. wow happy to have found this site. I was non-reappointed with highly effect in all areas. I never saw it coming. In fact, I heard(through grape vine) that it was an outside request.
    so now not only does your performance NOT matter your likes/dislikes matters too. UNION is USLESS