One of the many benefits of membership is knowing that when you need help most, TEA Legal Services can be there in times of professional crisis. The much-maligned portfolio system used to evaluate pre-k and kindergarten teachers has been just that for countless educators.
After two consecutive years of successfully supporting the passage of hold-harmless legislation meant to protect teachers from harmful effects of the rollout of the portfolio system, there were still teachers being negatively affected. That’s when TEA Legal went to work.
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of members and the Metro Nashville local that seeks to allow the local school system to implement fixes for evaluations of teachers that had been blocked by the state department of education.
Several teachers received an automatic score of “1” on certain collections due to mismatching of evidence that was submitted. Teachers were not alerted to the mismatch, and there was no personal review of the collections triggered that could have found the mistake.
Teachers followed their local grievance procedure upon discovering the scores, and MNPS agreed that the scores were a clerical error and sought permission of the TDOE to recalculate the overall evaluation without the collections. TDOE, however, denied the request and advised MNPS that it could not change the evaluations. That is when TEA Legal got involved.
“When the careers of teachers are being damaged, it is sometimes necessary to seek relief through the courts,” said TEA Legal Services manager Steve McCloud. “Teachers deserve to be evaluated on the quality of their practice, not a computer glitch.”
All TEA members have access to Legal Services and should reach out to the Uniserv if they have an employment-related issue with which they believe they may need legal assistance.