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McCarthy, Simpkins Grievances Heard By School Board

Tables Discussion Until Next Meeting

By DALE GRAHAM

*Links to actual audio segments can be found at the end of this article

The Cheatham County board of Education met in regular session Monday night. All members were present.

During the usual public forum at the beginning of the meeting, former school board member Greg Horton who did not run for re-election in the August election, spoke to the board about caving in to the “ultra liberal ACLU” 3 years ago, saying that the board “gave away the rights of its employees to worship God as they are led to”. He then encouraged “other laymen, preachers and pastors” to come monthly and pray for the board, which he then did.

There were 3 policy revisions approved at the meeting: #2.802 concerning Payroll procedures; #2.404 concerning School Support Organizations and; #5.302 concerting sick leave. School board policies are available for viewing on their website: https://www.cheathamcountyschools.net

There was an evaluation grievance hearing, on grievances filed by former Harpeth Middle School Assistant Principal Angela McCarthy, and former Sycamore High School (and former Harpeth High School) Principal Jenny Simpkins. TEA Representative Susan Young filled the board in on why the grievances were filed, and proposed methods of resolving the issues.

The grievances claim that former Director of Schools Tim Webb did not complete the portion of the evaluation process that he is responsible for, which counts for 50% of the total evaluation, for either Simpkins or McCarthy. Also, that Webb demoted both of the administrators back to teachers, which was in violation of First to the Top Act, an act that was passed in 2010 while Webb was the State Commissioner of Education, as well as in violation of State Board of Education Policy. The First to the Top Act made annual evaluations mandatory.

Policy states that Principals will have 2 on-site annual evaluations conducted by the Director of Schools or designee. Also that evaluators will provide written feedback to the educator within 1 week, as well as an in person de-brief within 1 week. Webb allegedly never did either for Simpkins or McCarthy. Evaluators are also required at the end of school year to rate educators based upon the evaluation model, again neither were ever rated or scored.

Young said that the careers of McCarthy and Simpkins were “forever altered”, by Webb’s numerous “violations of law and policy”. She went on to state that Webb lied when he made an “excuse for not posting their observation scores.”

*Links to actual audio segments can be found at the end of this article

When McCarthy was allowed to speak, she pointed out to Board members that she had tried to handle the grievance in “a private, non-public way”, but when her hearing requests were denied, she had no choice but to handle it publicly. McCarthy stated that she did receive 2 observations by Webb, both for which he arrived late. The first observation lasted 35 minutes, the second 20 minutes, and “at no point did Dr. Webb give me any feedback on the self assessment document that I completed”, McCarthy stated, nor did he ever conduct a post conference, discuss evaluations scores with her, or have her sign any documentation of scores. She went further to say that on June 5th, Webb called her and told her she would be reassigned to “some classroom teaching position”. When she asked why, he told her he couldn’t tell her that.

She said that having no evaluation scores has caused the loss of professional respect and integrity in the field after 24 years of service to Cheatham County. She added that “members of this community have been given cause to wonder what I did wrong that could have caused me to be reassigned to the classroom”. Other effects of the non-evaluation were an immediate and significant reduction in her earning power, followed by a potential future reduction as well.

McCarthy seeks removal of any quantitative scores

(which account for 50% of the evaluation) from her record, since there is no provision for a partial evaluation. Also that a record be placed in her file stating the Webb never completed the evaluation process for her, “I am simply asking for a truthful statement to be placed in my personnel file”, McCarthy said. Her final request was to be reinstated as an assistant principal in Cheatham County Schools, and have a complete evaluation done by Director of Schools Stan Curtis, or his designee.

Jenny Simpkins was also unhappy to be airing her grievance in such a public setting, but added that it was “the right thing to do”. She stated that Webb never evaluated her during the 2011-2012 school year. She said in the spring, he scheduled the required Spring evaluation, but called the morning of and said, “do I really need to come out there? You’re doing an excellent job”. She added that Webb “consistently indicated I was doing an excellent job”, Simpkins said. Still, Webb decided, with no evaluation and nothing but glowing feedback to Simpkins, to remove her as Principal at Sycamore, and put her back in the classroom, which affected her pay by a negative $18,000 now, and will continue to affect her when she chooses to retire. Simpkins is in her 29th year with Cheatham County, she is Cheatham County Central graduate.

Simpkins said though, that she knows “the real reason I was reassigned to the classroom”, stating that Webb called her on May 30th, 2012 and asked her opinion of the 2 candidates for interim director of schools. She told him her opinion, turned to her husband and said, “I wonder why Dr. Webb would care what I think about Stan Curtis and Sharon Kinnard. I found out”, she said. Simpkins said that he repeated the question the next day on the phone, she thought it was odd and asked him why he kept asking her that. Simpkins said that Webb told her he was going to have to do some “bad things”, adding that if Kinnard was named to the Interim position, Simpkins would “need to look for another job or I could resign to save face”. This led to a few more, somewhat bizarre conversations between Simpkins and Webb, ending with the call from Webb reassigning her to the classroom. “My removal has nothing to do with my job performance, and had everything to do with Sharon Kinnard’s negative opinion of me”.

She made the same requests as McCarthy, that her name be removed from the quantitative data (test scores), that the BoE Chair compose a letter stating that Webb was derelict in his duty by not performing evaluations and that it be inserted in her file, and that she be reinstated as SHS Principal and to be properly evaluated this year.

Young said that it wasn’t enough for the board to say “Tim Webb messed up”, adding “His errors are your errors, and it is up to you to fix it”, she ended.

*Links to actual audio segments can be found at the end of this article

Board Attorney Larry Woods weighed in on the discussion. To hear McCarthy, Simpkins and Woods for yourself, click the links at the end of this article.

The board voted unanimously to table the discussion until their next meeting and after having an opportunity to meet with their attorney.

Also at the meeting, board policy 6.312 concerning Use of Personal Communication Devices in School was revised unanimously on 1st reading. The policy is available for review on the Board’s website.

Policy 6.405 concerning medicines was also revised and put in place immediately for emergency purposes.

Election of School Board Chair and Vice Chair was also carried out. For chair, Dianne Proffitt was nominated, but declined. Tim Williamson nominated Michele Collins, seconded by Dan Moore, the vote was unanimous approval. Dianne Proffitt was nominated for vice chair by Michele Collins and was approved unanimously.

Also, HHS Teacher Dana Bates was recognized for a grant she received from the Raytheon Company. See details on page 2 of this week’s S. C. Advocate Newspaper.

 LISTEN TO THE AUDIO!

AUDIO:

Angela McCarthy – Grievance Statement: http://youtu.be/G2pBzNzntF0

AUDIO:

Jenny Simpkins – Grievance Statement: http://youtu.be/RjDKTB1UB-E

AUDIO:

Larry Woods – Board Attorney: http://youtu.be/3f8gXd7HfIw

AUDIO:

Greg Horton – Prayer: http://youtu.be/3Xwx5WnvpWU

2 Responses to McCarthy, Simpkins Grievances Heard By School Board

  1. Tommy Jackson

    September 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    thanks for posting audio. Do you have any of what happened before Mrs. McCarthy spoke?

    • DaleGraham

      September 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Check your email and let me know if you were able to access the file.
      Thanks
      Dale

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