Thursday, May 29, 2008

Union seeks hearing over surveillance

The Everett teachers union says it will file a complaint against the Everett School District over the district's videotape surveillance of a high school teacher's classroom for about a month last year.

The union says the district violated labor practices and employees' rights and is calling for an open hearing about how the recordings, which are now missing, were used, The Herald (Everett) reported Wednesday.

District Superintendent Carol Whitehead revealed Friday in a two-page letter to district employees that the district used a video camera to tape English and journalism teacher Kay Powers' classroom from May 10 to June 11, 2007.

Last month, a district lawyer had denied a surveillance camera was used.

The surveillance was done to determine who was entering and leaving the classroom on weekends, Whitehead said, adding that it is the 18,500- student district's "paramount duty to protect students."

"I don't believe we have violated any laws," she said.

School board members have declined comment on Whitehead's statement.

Powers was placed on leave in June and fired in November for helping students publish an underground newspaper despite a warning not to do so. She was reinstated in April to a teaching post at Henry M. Jackson High School after reaching a settlement with the district.

In her letter, Whitehead said Powers was fired because she spent hours alone with a student producing an underground newspaper, violating curfew and district driving rules.

Powers also misused school computers, equipment and software, Whitehead wrote.

Powers and the students involved knew their "own behaviors were hush, hush," she said.

Mitch Cogdill, a lawyer for the teachers union, said that had the case gone to a hearing, the district would not have been able to prove those allegations.

"If all this is true, why did she hire (Powers) back?" Cogdill asked. "Isn't she being negligent in doing so if it's true?"

Teachers union leaders voted Tuesday to file an unfair labor practice complaint with the Public Employees Relations Commission in Olympia.

School officials defended the practice of using video cameras, which are commonly used in hallways and parking lots.

"Video cameras are used as needed to ensure the safety of students, staff or public policy," district spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said.

The rest of the story.


Anonymous said...

Please notice that the critical evidence, the tapes, have gone "missing." Another example of the nationwide abuse of power by school officials? An "unfortunate" coincidence? Your call.

Piano sale documents-missing. Documents that may indicate mishandling of funds-missing before the auditor comes.

And on and on and on...

Anonymous said...

Did you hear what Cathy Bird said today via Email?
Well Well let me tell.
She wrote a very bad Email about a lady at LHS.
I think she should lose her job on this one.
MRS HR should get fired or fire someone "birdsong" said.

Anonymous said...

Cathy B. should be fired.

Anonymous said...

The irony is all of this is that everyone (and I mean the teachers, the union, the district, the public, and the media) have forgotten what the focus is - and that is teaching our kids about the wonders of the mind. The teacher may have crossed a gray area, the district may have overreacted, and now the union and public want blood, and the media is more than happy to fan the flames of the fire. I read the opinion pieces in the paper, and everybody makes it seem so simple as to how to solve the problem - just get rid of them. It's too bad that a breath of sanity is not prevailing here... and that we don't run down to the local court to file a lawsuit every time our feelings are hurt or we have a disagreement. Fingers are pointing everywhere except at what the real issue is (the education of our kids) .... and that's too bad.

Anonymous said...

what Cathi did is not near as bad as what Marla is doing to our district. She allowed a thief to work in her dept. She even defended that person and thought she walked on water and who's credit card was stolen from the BS office right next to the vault? seems like we need to do a clean swept and it should start at the top. Getting rid of Cathi will not fix the HR dept. It was broken before she arrived.

Anonymous said...

To the writer of "The Irony Is . . ."
The teachers who are writing to this blog care deeply about using the best teaching techniques. Unlike some of the current principals, we used rich programs: labs, group discussion, humanities blocks, history day deep research (not that joke of calling one primary source great research), socratic discussions, etc. If project based learning is good enough for Bill Gates, it should be good enough for the public schools. It appears that the administration of Edmonds School District lacks confidence in modern research. It fails to provide a safe environment. Don't think you cannot do anything. The parents in this district have legal remedies available to them.
Do something.