On May 8, the Rye City School District filed a rebuttal to a request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Osborn teacher Carin Mehler back into the classroom.
By Sarah Varney
On May 8, the Rye City School District filed a rebuttal to a request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Osborn teacher Carin Mehler back into the classroom. In the document, the District lays out specific charges against the teachers for the first time. The charges were outlined to buttress the District’s argument that it has no obligation to return Mehler to her classroom.
Dana Coppola, a teacher at Milton School was formally charged last month and is currently reassigned to home leave with full pay and benefits. Coppola is charged with improper coaching violations in connection with tests given in 2011 as well as the ELA and Math tests given in 2013.Charges for the alleged 2011 violations were made just in time to meet the three year statute of limitations imposed by the New York State Education Department.
The Memorandum of Law charges that at least four students at Osborn School provided “specific and detailed examples” of how Mehler improperly assisted students during the standardized state ELA and Math tests given in April of 2013. The District charges that she reviewed students’ answers and told them to change answers that were incorrect, identified specific questions where the students needed to check their answers, identified writing sections that needed more detail, and pointed out punctuation errors. Notes were taken during interviews by Osborn Principal Angela Garcia and then Interim Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Mary Anne Evangelist.
It goes on to state that in the case of Dana Coppola, at least five students told Principal Joanne Nardone and Mary Anne Evangelist that improper coaching had occurred. Evangelist took notes during the interviews with students. The students said that Coppola had advised them to check or fix specific questions and told them to raise their hands when they’d changed their answers to verify that the answers were now correct. They also said that she had assisted with certain math questions by providing additional information.
In addition to arguing against the plaintiffs’ complaints that their civil rights had been violated, district officials took the opportunity to refute several points spread via public commentary. To whit, that Mrs. Mehler was not banned from the Osborn campus and in fact served as a class parent this year; and that the district’s investigation had not ended in May of 2013 and is still ongoing. The document also details the assignments that the teachers have been working on during their suspensions arguing that the tasks did not and do not constitute “busy work”.
Reply papers in response to the Memorandum of Law filed on behalf of the defendants is due May 15. The next hearing date is May 22. The case (docket #7:2014cv02141) is being tried in the U.S. District Court Southern Division Second Circuit in White Plains.