BOARD OF TRUSTEES SPECIAL MEETING
ANDERSON SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER FIVE
Anderson, South Carolina
March 13, 2012
The Board of Trustees of Anderson County School District Number Five met in the Offices of the Board this date with the following members present: Mr. Charles Lee Anderson, Mr. Rick Bradshaw, Mrs. Ann W. Huitt, Mrs. Margaret Mack, Mr. Al Norris, Mr. Dickie Smith, Dr. Paul A. Talmadge and Mr. Paul Zugg. Absent was Mr. David Alewine.
NOTICE TO MEDIA
In accordance with the S. C. Code of Laws, 1976, Section 30-4-80(d), as amended, the following have been notified of the time, date, place and agenda of this meeting: The Anderson Independent-Mail, Greenville News, The Anderson Journal, WYFF, WSPA, Paul Brown, and FOX 21.
CALL TO ORDER
Mr. Norris called the meeting to order at 6:33p.m., for the purpose of a grievance hearing and other items listed on the agenda.
Mrs. Bagley stated that 68.7% of our students are on subsidized meals. In a PowerPoint presentation, she presented Students of Poverty Data Analysis. She discussed the PASS Report Card Comparison Total Population for Non-Title I Schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, PASS Report Card Comparison Total Population for Title I Schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, PASS Report Card Comparison Total Population for ALL elementary schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, PASS Report Card Comparison Subsidized Meals Subgroup for Non-Title I Schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, PASS Report Card Comparison Subsidized Meals Subgroup for Title I Schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, PASS Report Card Comparison Subsidized Meals Subgroup for ALL elementary schools vs. State % MET or Exemplary, and PASS Report Card Comparison Total Population and Subsidized Meals Subgroup for the District vs. State % MET or Exemplary.
Mrs. Bagley also discussed information with regards to Absolute Simulation using 2011 PASS Results of Free/Reduced Students Only, Self Contained Classes by School, ESOL Population and Poverty Status, Elementary Average Class Size, School Poverty Percentage, Elementary Level Budget Priorities, and the Superintendent’s Cabinet budget priorities.
Mr. Mahaffey presented for Board approval a list of personnel given out at the meeting being recommended for the 2012-2013 school year.
Mrs. Huitt made a motion the Board approve the list of personnel as presented. Dr. Talmadge seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
In his opening statement, Mr. Norris stated that one of the reasons that the Anderson School District Five Board of Trustees has convened this evening is to provide Mr. Paul Parker with a grievance appeal as provided by Board Policy. Mr. Parker has requested that this matter be heard in Open Session. For the Record, Mr. Norris stated that, “I serve as Board Chair and the following members of the Board are present: Mr. Paul Zugg, Mr. Chuck Anderson, Coach Dickie Smith, Mr. Rick Bradshaw, Dr. Paul Talmadge, Mrs. Ann Huitt, and Mrs. Margaret Mack.”
Mr. Norris further stated, “Your attention is called to the fact that this grievance appeal will be conducted as informally as is compatible with an equitable presentation of both sides of the case. Initially, after first hearing very brief opening remarks from the Superintendent, Mr. Parker will be given an opportunity to address the Board, which includes directing our attention to the documents he previously provided the Board. After Mr. Parker's statements, the Superintendent or her designee will be provided an opportunity to provide information related to Mr. Parker's grievance and respond briefly to the information he provided and the main allegations of his grievance, as well as direct the Board's attention to the documents previously provided. Witnesses will not be called; there will be no cross-examination; and the parties are asked to address all of their comments to the Board.”
“As Board Chair, I am the presiding officer at this hearing, and it is my duty to take whatever action is necessary to ensure an equitable, orderly, and expeditious hearing. I will make all rulings, subject to a majority vote of the Board. While Board members wish to give both parties a full opportunity to address the Board, it is expected that the presentations by the administration and by Mr. Parker be limited to a reasonable length of time, not to exceed thirty minutes or so.”
“Finally, Board members may direct questions to either party during the proceedings, and the Board also reserves the right to conclude the grievance appeal at any time.” Mr. Norris then recognized Mrs. Bagley.
Mrs. Bagley stated that Mr. Parker’s grievance has gone through all the proper channels. I do want to emphasis and make you aware that through his grievance, he is requesting the following appeal for relief from Anderson School District Five:
1. I would like to be given the opportunity to provide additional instructional time on three Saturdays during the remainder of the school year; three separate classes on each of these Saturdays, for duration of school of two hours each, in order to provide my students the chance to catch up on missed instructional time. Student participation in this class would be strictly voluntary, and the students would not be counted absent if they decline the opportunity extended them through this additional time.
2. My students should not be required to take the second quarter benchmark tests, since they have essentially been denied the instruction necessary to succeed, and the benchmark grade will not be part of their second quarter grade average.
3. I request I be paid an additional stipend, equivalent to three days of my normal salary schedule, for teaching these three Saturdays.
4. I request the Board require Mrs. Hanwell to be present on campus these days, as the administrator on campus.
5. I would like a written letter of apology from Mrs. Hanwell, Mr. Mahaffey, and Mrs. Bagley, to be placed in my personnel file, and a copy of those letters sent to me for disciplining me without adequate reason or any violation of district policy.
Mrs. Bagley then gave the Board a definition of Administrative Leave which is a routine placement with full pay and benefits as an incident is being investigated and a force of action is being determined. She also stated that if this incident on November 18, 2011 was the only incident involving Mr. Parker, we would not be here tonight. The incident of refusing to meet with a parent during his planning period and behaving in an unprofessional manner is the last of a list of concerns we have had with Mr. Parker. Mrs. Bagley then recognized Mr. Parker.
Mr. Parker stated that on November 18, 2011, a parent came to Lakeside wanting to meet with her child’s teachers. He stated that this drop-in conference was unscheduled and unexpected. When the office called to his room to tell him she was there, he told the office personnel twice that he could not meet with that parent at that time because he had to prepare his room for his last two classes. He also had three female students in his room finishing work on an assigned project. He further stated that the following class period, Mr. Mahaffey called him down to the main office, placed him on an indefinite administrative leave, confiscated his keys, demanded his laptop, told him not to come back on the campus, then escorted him off campus in front of his students and fellow faculty members, telling him that the district office would contact him when he could come back to work.
Mr. Parker further stated that he spent the next 15 school days, 26 days on the calendar, at home. He stated that on December 14, he met with the superintendent, Mr. Mahaffey, and Mrs. Hanwell in the district office. He stated that Mr. Mahaffey stated at that meeting that he was placed on administrative leave for refusing to attend the parent conference. Mrs. Bagley informed him that he would not be going back to Lakeside, and she would let him know where he would be re-assigned sometime during the Christmas break. Mr. Parker stated that he was then sent back home for two more school days and 15 calendar days. On December 29, he stated that Mr. Mahaffey called him and told him that he would be re-assigned to McCants Middle School for the remainder of the school year.
Mr. Parker called attention to paragraphs two and four of Mrs. Hanwell’s letters where she confirmed that he was placed on administrative leave for failing to attend the parent conference. He also called attention to the second paragraph of Mrs. Bagley’s letter where she also stated that he was placed on administrative leave for failure to attend the parent conference. He further stated that Mr. Mahaffey stated in his letter that he was sent home because he failed to adhere to expectations of professionalism. In the December 14 conference, he stated that Mr. Mahaffey also confirmed that he was sent home for not attending the parent conference.
Mr. Parker stated that in the district policy IKACA that specifically governs parent conferences, there is not mention that failing to attend an unscheduled drop-in conference or even a scheduled conference is against the district’s policy. He stated that the superintendent acknowledged this in the third paragraph of her letter when she states, “there is no specific policy that specifically states a teacher must meet with a parent whenever requested.” If by the superintendent’s own words and the letter of the policy, Mr. Parker stated that there was no policy broken and there was no justification for placing him on administrative leave. He further stated that he was removed from his class for 17 instructional days, a total of 41 days on the calendar, by the superintendent because of a district policy that she admits does not exist and then he was transferred to another school as though he had committed some major violation of the district policy or broken some state law.
Mr. Parker stated that the district’s administration spent over $6,000 to keep him at home, and his students at Lakeside are paying the price for it despite the fact that he did not break any district policy. He further stated that those 85 students are paying for it with their 8th grade science education and that his students at Lakeside have already lost 65 instructional days. As of today, that is 1/3 of their instructional school year, and they still do not have a certified science teacher. Mr. Parker stated that Mrs. Bagley confirmed in her letter that she recognizes the importance of having a certified teacher because she states in the 5th paragraph a certified teacher would be preferable. Then she follows that statement with, “it is not possible to replace the substitute with a teacher who is certified to teach science,” but she offers no reason why.
Mr. Parker stated that throughout Mrs. Hanwell’s letter, she complements him on his teaching ability. She even calls him a gifted teacher twice. He stated that Mr. Mahaffey stated in his letter that he has heard only good things about his teaching abilities. He further stated that in Mrs. Hanwell’s, Mr. Mahaffey’s and Mrs. Bagley’s letters, there are statements which suggest he can’t work well with his fellow teachers. Mrs. Hanwell states that several of his peers preferred not to be present in the meetings he attended; Mr. Mahaffey writes that he has heard numerous concerns about his ability to work with others; and Mrs. Bagley alludes to his “past conduct of which your co-workers are aware.”
Mr. Parker stated that he is not a teacher who has trouble working as part of his school community. He admitted that he is out spoken when it comes to things that keep him from doing his job as a teacher or when someone or something keep his students from getting what they need to be successful in school. He stated that he refuses to be intimidated with threats of losing his job if he speaks out for his students. He stated that his students always have and always will come first. As part of the District Five teaching staff, Mr. Parker believes that he has a responsibility to make every effort to provide his students with the best educational environment possible, even at the risk of being disciplined for speaking out to address legitimate teaching concerns and problems.
Mr. Parker stated that Mrs. Hanwell informed him in her letter in the sixth paragraph that administrative leave is not considered disciplinary and that the practice is used routinely throughout this district. Again in the 12th paragraph, Mrs. Hanwell continues by stating that he was not disciplined, merely placed on administrative leave so that serious concerns could be examined in accord with board policy. He went on to say that Mrs. Bagley states in her letter in the sixth paragraph that administrative leave is used routinely throughout this district and that it is not designed to be punitive. He stated that he was physically escorted from his class in front of his students and the people he work with. Again, he stated that his keys were taken, so he had no access to his professional and personal materials; his laptop was confiscated, so he had no access to his lessons, his notes, or his documents stored on the laptop; and then he was transferred to another school in the middle of the school year. He stated this was something he has never seen happen as a teacher in 21 years. He stated that Mrs. Bagley may not feel that administrative leave is punitive, but his 85 students have been without a certified teacher since November 18, and he has been moved to another school where he now assists two science teachers. He stated that punitive by definition means to inflict punishment or penalize someone, and his students have been punished by receiving inadequate instruction from a substitute who is not qualified to teach science by the State Department of Education standards. He further stated that he has been punished because of the damage this has done to his professional reputation. He stated that his former co-workers at Lakeside watched as he was removed from his class and forbidden to come back on the campus. His new co-workers at McCants only know that he was suddenly transferred to their school in the middle of the school year. He stated that is reputation has been damaged with the parents of his former students and the parents of his new students at McCants. He also stated that his reputation has suffered within the community of educators in District Five. He stated this qualifies as punitive action.
Mr. Parker called attention to the seventh paragraph of Mrs. Hanwell’s letter where she states that he was sent home to allow for corruption and consideration of information. Mrs. Bagley also states in her letter in the fourth paragraph and twice again in the sixth paragraph that he was placed on leave so an investigation of an incident could take place. He stated that during the first 26 days of his suspension, no one contacted him about the incident. Mrs. Hanwell did not call to ask him anything, even though she was not at school on the day he was sent home nor did she ever request a written statement from him. No one investigated enough to find out that there were three female students in his classroom. The administration found about the three students when he told them in the meeting on December 14. He further stated that at no point has anyone presented any evidence that an investigation took place, and he was kept out of his classroom for 17 instructional days.
Finally, Mr. Parker stated that he is not seeking professional gain from this grievance, nor is he asking to go back to Lakeside. He stated that he is seeking a small measure of restoration for his professional reputation and justice for his 85 students at Lakeside. He further stated that the only relief he is seeking is a letter of apology to be placed in his personnel file for the damage to his reputation caused by these administrators for punishing him without justification. He stated that most importantly, on behalf of the 85 students who have suffered from this, that Mrs. Bagley, Mr. Mahaffey, and Mrs. Hanwell be directed to hire a highly qualified science teacher immediately. He stated that for no other reason than to give these students the educational opportunity that they and their parents expect from this district. He also stated that if this district really believe in the motto that says “every child in the winner’s circle,” then it is imperative that these students at Lakeside be provided with a certified science teacher; one who can give them a chance to climb back in that winner’s circle and be successful this year. if you as a Board don’t take a stand for them, these students will have to suffer through an inadequate education in science this year; one that would have lasted almost three entire nine weeks and one that is considerably less than what we should provide them with. He stated that Mrs. Hanwell and Mrs. Bagley have demonstrated that they have no intention of hiring a qualified, certified teacher to replace me at Lakeside. As a district he stated that we owe these students that much.
Mrs. Hanwell began her statement by addressing Mr. Parker’s complaint that he was not notified of the reason he was placed on administrative leave. She stated that Mr. Parker was notified on November 18 why he was placed on administrative leave by Mr. Mahaffey and Mr. Tom Farrar, assistant principal at Lakeside. At that time, Mr. Parker was given an opportunity to state his side of the case, and at that time he did not make any mention of three students that were in his classroom. He did state that he had things to do to prepare for his class. Mrs. Hanwell stated that Mr. Parker also stated in his level 1 grievance that he would be willing to call the parent and re-schedule the conference. Mrs. Hanwell stated that previously Mr. Parker sent an email to her, Mr. Farrar, and two other teachers that he needed to meet with this parent; that this student was not being successful. She stated that this conference was one day later than what was scheduled. This was not an unprepared conference, the parent showed up on the wrong day. Mrs. Hanwell further stated that Mr. Parker also received a letter dated November 21, 2011 from Mrs. Bagley that stated the reason he was placed on administrative leave. The day we met with Mr. Parker in Mrs. Bagley’s office in December, he again stated that he had no knowledge of why he was placed on administrative leave; however, he was told three separate times. Mrs. Hanwell stated that this incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If this had been the first time an incident had occurred with Mr. Parker, I would have called him into my office and we would have discussed his failure to attend the conference. She stated that there have been several other conferences held with Mr. Parker and he continues to be insubordinate to requests made on campus. Mrs. Hanwell stated that she was not on campus at this point, but was notified by Mrs. McElhannon with what had happened, and she requested that she call Mr. Mahaffey and refer this to him.
Mrs. Hanwell stated that insubordinate behavior dates all the way back to 2008 with Mr. Parker. She stated that during the 2007-2008 school year, she met with Mr. Parker on three separate occasions concerning a 504 plan. A 504 plan is a legal document indicating the necessary steps to ensure student success. As a part of this 504 plan, teachers were to email grades to the parent each Friday. The parent contacted Mrs. Hanwell that she was not receiving emails from Mr. Parker. Each time she met with Mr. Parker, he provided different excuses as to why he could not give grades to the parent as required. Ms. Bowen, the assistant principal at Lakeside, also met with the teachers and suggested that the teachers copy the grades, put them in an envelope, and give then to the child to take home on Friday. She stated the following Friday, Mr. Parker copied the grades, placed them in an envelope in the front office for the parent. He never told the parent or the child that the grades were available in the front office, but he told me he provided the grades. The situation ended when I finally removed the child from Mr. Parker’s class and placed her in another science class after continued parent complaints and threats of being sued. This incident was documented and placed in Mr. Parker’s file.
Mrs. Hanwell stated that on other occasions, she conferenced with Mr. Parker due to his behavior at professional development sessions at the district and at the school level. She stated that on one occasion Dr. Wilson, former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and Amy Hawkins, Director of Secondary Programs, addressed Mr. Parker’s behavior on February 20, 2009 at a district professional development day in which Mr. Parker sat reading a novel with his feet propped up while other teachers collaborated and worked. According to Mr. Parker, all the work was finished for the day but everyone had to stay until dismissal. According to Mrs. Hawkins, “The middle school science teachers were meeting at Southwood Middle School to revise units for the approved curriculum. When I stopped by to check on their progress, I found Mr. Parker reading a novel while the other eighth grade teachers were working on the units. He stated he had finished his work. I moved around checking with the individual groups and discovered his partner still working on the unit. Dr. Wilson came in around this time and asked him what he was reading and why he was reading it when there was curriculum work taking place, and Mr. Parker was asked to assist with the revisions.”
Mrs. Hanwell stated that at Lakeside, she had met Mr. Parker several times to address his behavior in content planning and professional development. During the 2009-2010 school year, Mr. Parker arrived at weekly planning with a newspaper. He did not have the necessary materials, the curriculum notebook, writing materials, or standards to plan with his colleagues. During this time, Mr. Parker quietly read the newspaper instead of being an active participant. The behavior was observed by Mrs. McElhannon, our Instructional Facilitator, and she reported this to me. Mrs. Hanwell stated that she sat with the eighth grade teachers many time to in an effort to facilitate instructional conversations and to keep Mr. Parker from reading the newspaper.
Next, Mrs. Hanwell stated that she conferenced with Mr. Parker on December 3, 2010 to discuss his behavior in grade-level planning. At this meeting with eighth grade teachers, Mr. Parker read the newspaper during the session on essential questions. When asked, Mr. Parker stated that he already knew how to do this; it was a waste of time. He also stated that since he has been in this district, there hasn’t been any worthwhile professional development. After this incident, Mr. Parker was referred to Mr. Mahaffey. After meeting with Mr. Mahaffey, Mr. Parker continued to arrive tardy to meetings and had to be reminded of the scheduled meetings while his colleagues sat and waited on him.
Mrs. Hanwell stated there have been several occasions in which other teachers have asked not to facilitate department sessions because of Mr. Parker’s outspoken and negative comments during presentations. I have also been asked to send administrators to science department meetings because other teachers have expressed concerns to me over his actions and comments during these meetings. She stated that on one occasion after a conversation regarding scheduled professional development, Mr. Parker stated that he would attend professional development and meetings but that I could not dictate his attitude for participation. Mrs. Hanwell stated that last year Mr. Parker asked to be excused from professional development so that he could teach class as Anderson University. This request was denied due to Board policy. She stated that she did excuse him from several Lakeside faculty meetings in an effort to assist him with his schedule of teaching. This school year, Mr. Parker did not attend the first three Tuesday afternoon sessions required by our district. She stated that she conferenced with Mr. Parker and Mr. Parker informed her that he needed to leave to visit his mother in the nursing home and on one Tuesday he stated that he forgot that it was Tuesday. At that meeting, I reminded Mr. Parker that attendance for Tuesday meetings is a part of the job and not optional. At the end of the same day, Mrs. Hanwell stated that a faculty member came to the office and reported to her that Mr. Parker was planning on being out the next day (this was a Tuesday). She asked if Mr. Parker was sick. The reply was, “No. Mr. Parker said he wasn’t going to attend professional development, he had a class to teach at Anderson University.” Mrs. Hanwell stated that Mr. Parker did call in sick the next day. After investigating, Mrs. Hanwell found that Mr. Parker was teaching a class at Anderson University every Tuesday from 4:00-5:15 p.m., which conflicted with assigned duties that required him to be at professional development meetings until 5:00 p.m. At that point, Mrs. Hanwell stated that she contacted Mr. Mahaffey. Mr. Mahaffey confirmed with Anderson University that Mr. Parker was teaching on Tuesday afternoons. She stated that the Anderson University officials told Mr. Mahaffey that Anderson University could change the time of the class so as not to interfere with Mr. Parker’s job in District Five.
Mrs. Hanwell stated that teachers in Anderson District Five are required to create and maintain a webpage to communicate with parents and students. On August 25, 2012, she stated that Malura Shady, Lakeside’s technology coach, emailed Mr. Parker to ask him if he was having any problems accessing his webpage since she noticed that it had not been updated. She stated that Mr. Parker replied in an email, “When I get time, I will attend to it. Maybe we could have a faculty meeting or a staff development meeting to discuss why this is making my job so much easier and freeing up so much freaking instructional time.” Mr. Parker later sent Ms. Shady an email stating the page was updated. Ms. Shady discovered that Mr. Parker logged into the webpage and wrote, “Lack of time. I don’t have time to complete this page, but it is updated.” Ms. Shady asked him to remove it from the webpage.
Mrs. Hanwell stated that another example of inappropriate conduct at school regards Mr. Parker’s use of email. She stated that Mr. Parker sent emails to the entire faculty that should have been directed to one or two people, or did not need a response at all. For example, Mr. Parker emailed the entire faculty in response to an email from Lakeside’s cafeteria manager. After the cafeteria manager received Mr. Parker’s email, she sent Mrs. Hanwell the following email, “Mrs. Hanwell, I do not understand why Mr. Parker keeps emailing me about this. He seemed very rude about it. I do not think he should have sent that email to the faculty. He could have just sent it to me, if he had a problem with the email I sent out. I’m just doing my job.” Also, at the beginning of the year, Mr. Parker owed lunch money. Terry was emailing Mr. Parker to let him know what he owed and he kept emailing her back and making a big deal out of it. Terry stated, “So I told him I would pay what he owed; for him to just forget about it. I do not know why he wants to give us a hard time; we try to take care of everybody, and I like for teachers to work with me because I try to help them out.” Mrs. Hanwell stated that in another email Mr. Parker sent a response to the entire faculty when she specifically requested that all comments be sent only to her. Mr. Parker sent an email to faculty stating that “Power Teacher sucks.” Mrs. Hanwell stated that these are examples of inappropriate and unprofessional emails sent by Mr. Parker.
Mrs. Hanwell stated that in Mr. Parker’s grievance, he expressed a concern for his students and the instruction the students are presently receiving. Mr. Parker was instructed to provide lesson plans for the substitute while he was on leave. On November 21, Mrs. Hanwell stated that she asked Mrs. McElhannon to go check for lesson plans. There were no lesson plans in his room nor had any administrator received an email with plans for his classes. Mrs. McElhannon asked Ms. Latimer, an eighth grade science teacher, if she had received any plans. Ms. Latimer replied that she had and she printed them for Mrs. McElhannon and emailed them to Mrs. Hanwell. After printing the lesson plans, Ms. Latimer told Mrs. McElhannon that it would be difficult for a substitute to carry out the inquiry and motions plans and suggested that she get the curriculum notebook and amend the plans. Mrs. McElhannon and Ms. Shady worked on the lesson plans for the substitute and gathered all the materials necessary for the classes. Mrs. Hanwell stated that since November 18, 2011, eighth grade science teachers have been very helpful in weekly planning sessions with the substitute. She further stated that the substitute is a certified teacher. She is not certified in South Carolina, but she was certified in New York. Mrs. Hanwell stated that she has used this same substitute teacher for three long-term subs in the three years she has been in South Carolina. Mrs. Hanwell stated that students were assessed at the end of the nine weeks with the Benchmark district test. Mr. Parker’s class average for the first nine weeks was 80.4. Mr. Parker’s class average for the second nine weeks was 80.4. Mrs. Hanwell also compared student grades for both nine weeks. As expected, some students showed significant gain and some showed drops, but the overall class averages were the same. Mrs. Hanwell stated that during the time of his leave, a few students did ask her and Mr. Farrar where Mr. Parker was and if he was coming back. One student told Mrs. Hanwell that Mr. Parker told her at church that she would not let him come back. No parent had called to express concerns.
Finally, Mrs. Hanwell stated that the decision to place Mr. Parker on administrative leave had nothing to do with performance in the classroom. Placing Mr. Parker on leave, after refusing to attend a parent conference during the time designated for parent conferences, was based on continued insubordination of requests that the administration made to him.
Mr. Norris asked if the other conduct concerns pointed out were involved with putting Mr. Parker on administrative leave, to which Mrs. Hanwell replied affirmative. Mrs. Hanwell further stated that it was the continued insubordination when he is requested to do something, and it was the culmination activity when he refused to come to the parent conference on the day requested.
Mr. Norris asked if the correspondence Mr. Parker received indicated that he was being suspended because of continued insubordination, to which Mrs. Hanwell replied that the correspondence Mr. Parker received indicated that he was placed on leave because he refused to attend the parent conference, which is insubordination. Mrs. Hanwell further stated that this was one action of many that brought us to this point
Mr. Mahaffey began his statement by sharing emails from other employees.
Email #1 is from the school secretary – “This afternoon around 12:45 p.m., I was in a bookkeeping office counting money, and I heard Ms. Friedman speaking to Mr. Parker through the intercom. She was informing him that he had a parent in the office for a conference. Mr. Parker responded that the conference was supposed to be yesterday, and he didn’t have time for it today. She asked him again and he continued to say that he didn’t have time. I advised Ms. Friedman to let Cameron know about this.”
Email #2 is from a teacher – “I was in the office attempting to send a fax when I overheard the conversation between Mr. Parker and Ms. Friedman and Mrs. McElhannon. Ms. Friedman informed Mr. Parker that he had a parent waiting in the lobby for a conference. Mr. Parker stated that he was not attending the conference because the parent didn’t show up for the original conference. Ms. Friedman said okay. A few minutes later Mrs. McElhannon also informed Mr. Parker that he had a parent waiting in the lobby for a conference. Mr. Parker told Mrs. McElhannon the same thing that he told Ms. Friedman – that he did not plan to attend the conference because he also had to plan for his next two classes. Mrs. McElhannon said okay, thank you Mr. Parker.
Email #3 is from the Instructional Facilitator – Ms. Friedman came back to my office and told me that a parent was here to conference with Mr. Weymouth, Mrs. Martin, and Mr. Parker and that she called Mr. Parker to attend the conference and he refused. I walked into the office area with Ms. Friedman and buzzed his classroom. There was no answer. I called Mrs. Martin’s classroom and asked her to go to the parent conference in Mr. Weymouth’s room. She agreed. I then buzzed Mr. Parker’s room again. He answered, and I told him that we needed him to go to Mr. Weymouth’s room for a parent conference. He answered that he would not attend because he had work to do. Due to his answering tone, I quickly flipped the PA system off to scan the office to be certain that there were no other parents present. I called back to his room and said thank you Mr. Parker I appreciate it. At that point, I turned to walk back to my office to contact Mrs. Hanwell, the principal. One school employee asked, “Can he do that?” I said don’t worry about it; I am not going to take part in an argument over the PA system. I will handle it.
Email #4 is from a teacher – While working in my office, I heard Ms. Friedman call Mr. Parker for a parent conference. He told her that the conference was for yesterday, not today and he was busy and had things to do. Mrs. McElhannon then called Mr. Parker’s room and asked him to attend the meeting and he seemed very annoyed and replied in an hostile voice that the meeting was for yesterday and not today and he was busy and he was not going to. She explained that the parent was here today and he said he was not going to the meeting, he continued to talk, so she shut the PA system off and then turned then PA back on and said thank you Mr. Parker I appreciate it.
Mr. Mahaffey stated that after he received the call from Mrs. McElhannon on November 18, he went to Lakeside and she briefed him again on the situation with Mr. Parker. I asked that Mrs. McElhannon cover his class so that he could meet with Mr. Parker. He stated that they went into Mrs. Hanwell’s office. Tom Farrar, the assistant principal, was also present. Mr. Mahaffey stated that when he asked Mr. Parker why he refused to meet with the parent, he stated the parent had not shown for the scheduled conference on the previous day and he needed to set up for the next class.
Mr. Mahaffey stated that teachers at Lakeside and in all of the middle schools have two planning periods. Mr. Parker never stated that there were three students in his class during this time. If there had been students in the classroom, provisions would have been made for supervision. Mr. Mahaffey stated that it was also his understanding that the parent who came was the parent of a struggling student. In fact, Mr. Parker had acknowledged this in an earlier email to his colleagues back in the fall about the need to meet with this parent. Two other teachers did meet with the parent and one commented that he was so glad the parent came. Parents and students are our customers, and we must build on these relationships. The parent was a day late, but she came and the teachers had the opportunity to meet with her.
Mr. Mahaffey stated that before Mr. Parker left on November 18, he commented that he was not going to sacrifice his other students with one – for meeting with a parent on an unscheduled conference means that the other students were being sacrificed. Mr. Mahaffey stated that he did inform Mr. Parker during their meeting on November 18 in Mr. Farrar’s presence, that due to his actions he was being placed on administrative leave with pay. Following protocol, Mr. Mahaffey asked for his keys and reminded him that he was not to be on the Lakeside campus without Mrs. Hanwell’s permission. Mr. Mahaffey stated that he also asked Mr. Parker to send lesson plans to Mrs. Hanwell; he sent the plans to another teacher.
On November 21, Mr. Mahaffey stated that Mrs. Bagley sent a letter to Mr. Parker explaining why he was on leave. Throughout this process Mr. Parker has been told that the incident on November 18 was not an isolated issue. In fact, Mr. Parker stated that in five years he had been reprimanded only four times. Mr. Mahaffey stated that Mr. Parker was a former administrator in another school district. He should know that issues of this type take time and energy that could be spent on more productive things. Mr. Mahaffey stated that good things have always been said about Mr. Parker’s teaching. He could be a wonderful resource for other teachers, but he seems to create tension in a group setting.
Finally, Mr. Mahaffey stated that the day Mr. Parker left Lakeside; they walked out of Mrs. Hanwell’s office across the lawn. They did not run into any other teachers. Mr. Mahaffey stated that Mr. Parker went into his classroom to get his things, but he did not enter the classroom. Mr. Mahaffey stated that when Mr. Parker walked out of his classroom his comment was, “It’s been nice.”
In response Mr. Anderson’s question on whether there is state regulation or board policy about the length of administrative leave, Mr. Mahaffey replied that there is no state regulation or board policy addressing the length of administrative leave; that each situation is handled on a case by case basis depending on how long it takes to investigate the matter.
Mrs. Huitt asked if there were any other personnel this had happened to, and is it common practice for a teacher to refuse on sight conference without notification? Mr. Mahaffey stated this has not happened before and that it is not common practice for a teacher to refuse to meet with a parent. Mr. Mahaffey further stated that teachers are encouraged to meet with parents. It may be the only time the parent can get to the school.
In response to Mr. Anderson’s question, Mrs. Bagley stated that during Mr. Parker’s administrative leave, the district was out for Thanksgiving holidays and Christmas holidays. The leave was not the entire month of November and December. She further stated that there is no length of time for administrative leave.
Mrs. Bagley stated that she is the only person who has the authority to place someone on administrative leave. She state it is not something I do on a regular routine period, but she has placed people on administrative leave when it is necessary. As I said in my opening remarks, this is not “the incident.” If it had been “the incident” Mrs. Hanwell would have dealt with it and I would have never known about it. She stated that when Mr. Mahaffey told her what had happened on this date, she had already met with Mr. Parker twice about his unprofessional conduct. She stated that it is rare for her to meet with a teacher because of unprofessional conduct twice. Then for this to come up for the third time, Mrs. Bagley stated that she made the decision to place Mr. Parker on administrative leave, which was the appropriate thing to do.
Mrs. Bagley stated that Mr. Parker clearly knew the reasons why he was placed on administrative leave that day. She stated that all of the other misconduct that was presented has been addressed in every letter to Mr. Parker, and it has been addressed by me. Mrs. Bagley stated that your conduct as a teacher is punitive. Teachers are expected to be professional if they are employed for 3 years or for 25 years. She stated that the policy manual is full of policies about being professional and how teachers should conduct themselves in a professional manner. She also stated that it is throughout the policy manual where parents are to be worked with, are to be conferenced with, and are to be accommodated. She stated common sense is throughout the policy manual and how to one should conduct themself as a professional. Mrs. Bagley again stated that she had spoken with Mr. Parker in her office with Mrs. Hanwell or Mr. Dukes present. First, it was about his unprofessional behavior on the district professional development day. Dr. Wilson and I told him that in Anderson School District Five we take professional development very seriously. Second, she met with him because he wrote a letter to her with his displeasure of how we were dealing with the budget crisis. It was a time when it was very painful, and it was a time when she had asked principals to try to divide the children up so they wouldn’t be lost. Mrs. Bagley stated that she went to Lakeside to discuss the letter with Mr. Parker. She stated that he was very disrespectful and combative and that she finally said, “There is no need for us to continue this conversation.” Mrs. Bagley again stated that this grievance appeal has gone through the channels, but when Mr. Parker met with her before coming to Board, he actually bullied her into firing him. She said he stated, “Fire me, why don’t you fire me, go ahead and fire me; Mrs. Bagley why don’t you go ahead and fire me.” Mrs. Bagley stated that she told Mr. Parker if he was every in her office again, his job would be in jeopardy. She wanted to save his job and that is why it took time to make arrangements on where Mr. Parker should go and how he could serve the students in a productive way. She stated Mr. Parker was moved to McCants and she checks on him routinely. Mr. Stamps has reported to her that Mr. Parker is doing what he has asked him to do. Mrs. Bagley stated that Mr. Parker cannot go back to Lakeside.
Mr. Anderson asked for further clarification on what the plans are for Mr. Parker’s classes at Lakeside and if the Administration plan to hire a South Carolina certified science teacher or transfer another South Carolina certified science teacher to Lakeside.
In response to Mr. Anderson’s inquiry, Mrs. Bagley stated that Mrs. Hanwell is a South Carolina certified science teacher. Mrs. Hanwell and her administrative staff have studied the plans; Mrs. Hanwell has had students come and present their science projects to her; and the science teachers at Lakeside have all worked together. Mrs. Bagley stated that the substitute is a certified science teacher; she just doesn’t have a South Carolina endorsement. Mrs. Bagley further stated that the benchmark tests did not show that the students were in dire need. If so, we would see to it that whatever those students needed they would get.
In response to Mr. Anderson’s inquiry, Mrs. Hanwell stated that she has been interviewing for a science position and will continue to interview until she finds a teacher person that will be a good fit for her school.
Mr. Bradshaw asked if the district policy lists consequences for insubordination, to which Mrs. Bagley replied affirmative. Mrs. Bagley further stated that continued insubordination can lead to termination.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Parker stated that he has been dealing with this since he started the grievance. He stated that he was suspended for not going to a parent conference. He stated that is all he was told. He stated that he was sent home for 18 days from his class. He stated that he has documentation about all of the half-truths that the Board has been told. He stated that he does not know how to compete with the administration. He further stated that he knows there is documentation about the 504 plan Mrs. Hanwell mentioned. Mr. Parker stated that it was a computer problem in the district, and that he has documentation to prove it. He stated that he could not get the emails out. He sent the emails but they did not go out. He stated the parent was adamant that he had to send emails. Mr. Parker further stated that he could argue with Mr. Mahaffey’s statements, but if he was that insubordinate, because he was an assistant principal for four years, he would have fired himself for insubordination. He stated that if he had bullied his superintendent, he would have fired himself for insubordination. He stated that none of this was important until he filed a grievance. He also stated that he did not get reprimanded. He stated that there was one time in his personnel file where he was reprimanded by the district and that was when Mr. Mahaffey told him he would be recommended for termination because he was leaving to teach a class at Anderson University. He stated that he taught this class at Anderson University for an entire year, and that Mrs. Hanwell never complained and never said anything about him missing a Tuesday meeting. He stated the Tuesday meetings are not professional development; they are faculty meetings. Mr. Parker further stated that if he was as bad as the administration had painted him, then he doesn’t deserve to be teaching. He stated that Mrs. Bagley told the Board she had met with him twice. Once was for propping his feet to read a novel; the last 10 minutes of that professional development day. He stated that he asked Mrs. Hawkins could we leave since we had completed our task, and she stated no; that the meeting was scheduled until 4:30 p.m. and he had to stay until 4:30 p.m. Mr. Parker stated that he did take his novel out to read it. Dr. Wilson saw him, he apologized, and he put the novel up. He stated that he didn’t get written up for it. He stated that he was called into Mrs. Bagley’s office, she fussed at him, but she didn’t write him up. The other incident Mrs. Bagley had to deal with him was when he told her that her plan to force all these kids into other teachers’ rooms was going to disrupt the instructional process. He stated that he wasn’t mad at her about her plan; he just thought it was a real bad idea for the kids because we were putting them into the wrong classes. Mr. Parker stated that he could spend hours telling the rest of the story. He finally stated that when he was sent home, he was told that it was because he did not go to a parent conference.
There were no closing remarks from the Administration.
Mr. Norris stated that the Board would meet in Executive Session to discuss this matter and to discuss the ramifications of any decisions and try to reach a general conclusion. He informed Mr. Parker that he would be notified of the Board’s decision by a letter in the next few days.
Mr. Bradshaw made a motion the Board recess for ten minutes, and then reconvene in Executive Session to discuss Personnel Matters. Mrs. Mack seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
OPEN SESSION FOLLOWING EXECUTIVE SESSION
Dr. Talmadge made a motion the Board reconvene in Open Session. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Mr. Norris reported that no action was taken in Executive Session; however, action is required on one personnel matter.
Mrs. Huitt made a motion the Board approve the Administration’s recommendation for Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Westside High School. Mr. Smith seconded the motion, which carried unanimously
Mr. Bradshaw made a motion the Board reconvene in Executive Session to discuss Personnel Matters. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
OPEN SESSION FOLLOWING EXECUTIVE SESSION
Mr. Smith made a motion the Board reconvene in Open Session. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Mr. Norris reported that no action was taken in Executive Session; however, action is required on one personnel matter.
Mr. Bradshaw made a motion the Board deny the grievance and all relief requested. Dr. Talmadge seconded the motion. The motion carried with seven in favor and one abstention (Zugg).
There being no further business, Mr. Zugg made a motion
the Board adjourn. Mr.
Smith seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
As Approved By Superintendent