At the June 11 Rye City School Board of Education meeting, parents expressed strong disapproval of the District’s actions related to the recent cheating scandal.
By Sarah Varney
At the June 11 Rye City School Board of Education meeting, parents expressed strong disapproval of the District’s actions related to the recent cheating scandal. As previously reported, the District removed several teachers at Milton and Osborn schools from the classroom for allegedly coaching students while they were taking State standardized test. The four teachers are on leave with pay while the cases are being investigated.
Meanwhile, parents of students in classes affected by the allegations of improper coaching have reportedly engaged in spam attacks, shouting matches, and heated charges of coercion surrounding requests to sign a petition in support of the Osborn teachers.
Dozens of parents were at the meeting to express support for the teachers in question and demand answers from the administration.
First up to speak was Kim O’Connor. “While it’s easy to be civil when we are in agreement, it is when emotions run high that we are truly put to the test and need to remind ourselves of what civility means,” she stated in prepared remarks. After that it was touch and go for Robert’s Rules of Order.
Most of the parents in the room expressed anger and dismay at the perceived insensitivity to the children affected. In brief remarks, School Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez told audience members that school officials must comply with New York State Education Department rules. “We are ensuring due process for our teachers. This is a personnel issue and as such there is very little we can say about it,” he said. “I want to be clear that we are not accusing these teachers. These are allegations and we need to allow the investigation to play out.”
Dr. Alvarez’s remarks did little to assuage the ire of parents as they continued to berate administrators for seemingly ignoring the repercussions of their decision to take the teachers out of their classrooms this close to the end of the school year. “Why didn’t you consider evaluating this situation over the summer? These children feel as though they’ve done something wrong,” said Jacqueline Grace, an Osborn parent. Nicolette Flosse, also an Osborn parent, echoed those sentiments. “My daughter thinks that this is all her fault. How could you do this to my child?” she asked.
But beyond the tears and anger, several parents pointed out the issue at the heart of the matter: proctoring policies.
“The person who made the decision to have the teachers proctor their own exams is at fault,” said Eric Kamander, an Osborn parent. He suggested rotating the teachers.
One teacher, who requested anonymity, noted that the tests in April provided fertile ground for controversy in that the results will be used to gauge the success of teachers tasked with bringing students up to the level of the Common Core standards put in place late last fall. In addition, for the first time, the scores will be used as part of the teachers’ yearly performance review in accordance with the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), part of the Race to the Top initiative.