Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

September 26, 2006

Art teacher lawsuit?

Filed under: art education, Frisco ISD, Sydney McGee, Teacher issues, Texas — texased @ 9:42 am

Looks like Ms. McGee hasn’t met expectations since her last hearing according to the school board:

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News:

District officials have repeatedly pointed to other performance issues and said the trip didn’t spark the reprimands.Ms. McGee became the subject of frequent media reports over the last month after the board rejected her August request to transfer to another Frisco school.

District officials said they didn’t want to give Ms. McGee an escape hatch to move elsewhere without addressing other issues, including lesson-plan preparation.

But Ms. McGee said she received a negative review and several directives from Fisher principal Nancy Lawson only after a parent reportedly complained about the trip.

The school board stopped short of terminating Ms. McGee’s contract Monday night. But after a closed-door session, Dr. Reedy said he would recommend that her contract not be renewed.

“If they had good reason to fire her, they would have, but they don’t,” Mr. Dunn said. “It’s mind-boggling.”

Buddy Minett, school board president, declined to talk about the case.

“This is something where it’s really better if we don’t comment,” he said.

I’m sure that the administration has of course, documented her inability to improve her lesson plans. After all, this was the rational some board members gave at the previous hearing.

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Collin County News:

Some board members said it appeared that Ms. Lawson was trying to improve the art teacher’s performance and should be allowed to do so.

Now if she was such a horrible teacher, shouldn’t the board be looking at the administration of the school who was willing to accept her transfer? Doesn’t this show poor judgement on that prinicipal’s part by offering her the transfer? Oh that’s right, the board doesn’t want to stand in the way of principals running their schools no matter how arbitrary her actions may be. Remember, there was no written record of previous reprimands, whether she deserved them or not.

I see this as a case where the board realizes it screwed up by reacting to one over-zealous parent and is now trying to bury its mess as quickly as possible. I can’t say what kind of teacher McGee was before all of this and whether or not she deserved to be reprimanded. I do sincerely hope that she was smart enough to dot every i and cross every t these past six weeks and be able to sue the heck out of the district.

No, that’s not fair to all of the teachers and employees who are doing a great job for Frisco. But it would be doing them a service as well by letting the board know that they have to hold principals accountable for completing their duties as required. The principal tried to use a parent complaint as the basis to take action against a teacher. They refused to substantiate the complaint in any way that would allow the teacher to address the issue. And when it became clear that most people didn’t consider the complaint by itself worthy of discipline, all of a sudden the board hears about previous “verbal” reprimands and goes along with it.

I have said all along, this is not about whether or not McGee had work issues. It has to do with a principal and a board being able to discredit a teacher without adequate proof. The rules that the administration and board ignored are designed to protect all teachers. For those who say that by following the rules, the school may be keeping an ineffective teacher in the classroom and the students are the only ones who suffer, I would point out that the reason that the teacher is still there is because the administration didn’t do its job in the first place!

And if you think this is exactly the sort of thing that encourages law suit abuse, who’s fault is it? But it doesn’t really matter, does it? The board of Frisco ISD has decided to go ahead and pay the potential lawsuit costs (I know, I’m guessing here) to make the problem go away. In six months, no one is going to care about how much Frisco ISD paid to settle except the insurance company. If anyone really does care, they would do something about it at the next school board election.

74 Comments »

  1. I have to agree … if Frisco ISD has been having a problem with this teacher it should have been put down in-writing on previous performance reviews. Where are they?

    This thing about “team evaluaitons”? You don’t do “team” evaluations. One-on-one with your direct supervisor and things are put down in writing and agreed upon by both parties – to be placed in your personnel file.

    This teacher has 28+ years of experience in her field … I’d bet that’s more experience than either Lawson or Gonzalez. You just don’t just throw that kind of experience away.

    I’m sorry, but I smell an administrative cover-up. And – if the principal was concerned about the trip, why would she and all the children’s parent’s sign-off on the consent forms?

    Tell ya what … the complaining parent must have a pretty decent bank balance. It’s not everybody who’s got money enough to buy off an entire school district.

    Comment by R. Blake — September 26, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

  2. I don’t think the complainer necessarily has the big checkbook but is probably representative of the type of people who do write campaign checks and vote on election day. This is why people should be worried because it may be a minority population but they appear to be a population with influence. I hope everyone who finds this whole situation deplorable and lives in the Frisco ISD takes the time to look at their candidates and vote in the next school board election.

    Comment by texased — September 26, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  3. This is ridiculous and Frisco should be ashamed of what their school board did. Ms. McGee took these kids to an art museum not a porn shop! The parent who complained should look long and hard at what they’ve done. If you didn’t want your kids to go on the field trip, then make them take study hall instead. You signed the consent form you idiots! It’s art. Are you ashamed of your bodies? You must be to get this teacher fired and the school board need to have better back bones to back up their teachers! How do you people sleep at night?

    Comment by Tia — September 26, 2006 @ 1:27 pm

  4. I can’t believe the school board did not stand up to the parent. The parent signed the permission slip, not the teacher. Apparently this parent is not educated or involved in the child’s life. Know what you are signing before you sign it. It’s just like sexual education, no permission, no movie!! Get involved in your child’s life! The teacher’s NOT YOUR BABYSITTER!!!! You were responsible for what your child saw, not the museum or the teacher!!!! The school board has no right to fire the teacher. The school board should’ve known what was at the museum. Afterall, the teacher cannot take children on a field trip without approval and approval was granted. Not once, twice, but three times-school board, principal, and PARENT!! Frisco’s tax payers are going to be paying a pretty penny for a school board member’s lack of responsiblity!

    Comment by Monica — September 26, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  5. Does anyone know how I can contact Sydney McGee’s attorney? I have an e-mail that he may want if or when this goes to trial. This school board is really no different from others across our nation. They fill the spots with people who are UNDERQUALIFIED, OVER-RATED and knows NOTHING about the teaching profession. They do not have the child’s best interest at heart, they only are concerned about the bank accounts of the parents and how simple minded some principals
    are that they can be manipulated so eaily. If another school was more than willing to accept McGee’s transfer WHY WOULD FRISCO BLOCK IT?????? Something is rotten in Denmark. I think it is the school board.Parents, beware!!! Sending you child to school in Frisco could be education limiting.

    Comment by Sue Grant — September 27, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

  6. What I think is so disturbing about this whole issue, is that people, lots of people, have let themselves be completely brainwashed by the media, Ms. McGee, and her over jealous lawyer into believing that Ms. McGee’s “administrative leave with pay” has anything to do with a trip to a museum. If Ms. McGee wants to prove her record is “crystal clear” prior to this field trip, why doesn’t she produce those forms. Every teacher gets a copy of their evaluations. She can’t do this because they are not as great as she says they are.

    Here is what the FISD has to say on the issue:
    As you know you can’t always believe what you read and hear. A school district is at an extreme disadvantage in the area of personnel matters due to issues of employee privacy and ethical considerations.

    However, since an employee of the district has chosen to express her concerns publicly in a hearing and in the media since that time, it seems fair that a school district can at least point to facts that were stated in that public hearing. Much has been misrepresented.

    First, this is not about a field trip to an art museum. The timing of circumstances has allowed the teacher to wave that banner and it has played well in the media. FISD is a strong supporter of the arts and the Dallas Museum of Arts – our art program is rich and award-winning.

    At issue here are performance concerns and the ability to supervise an employee. As early as May 2005 the principal verbally brought to the attention of the teacher that there were some performance concerns. She suggested at that time that a field trip experience might be a way to strengthen the art program. It was not mandated and no particular venue was recommended.
    During the late spring of the next school year, 2005-2006, when the teacher began planning the field trip, the principal suggested that the field trip be delayed until the next school year because she was concerned that the planning process was not sufficient.
    Then when the teacher received her evaluation conference, which was in mid May and after the field trip, some issues of concern were discussed and the teacher stated that she didn’t think it was fair to evaluate her on expectations that had not been clearly communicated to her in writing. Principals try to work through informal methods first to address performance concerns (verbal instructions, etc.) before documenting expectations. The principal did then document the performance areas that needed to be addressed – at the teacher’s request – but the documentation was not brought on by the field trip; the field trip was not a catalyst for anything or the final straw to get her in “hot water.”
    After the memo was provided as requested, she did file a grievance and also asked to be transferred if there was an opening in the district. The transfer was denied because the central administration felt that if you allow a teacher to transfer after a supervisor has given them guidelines for improvement then you have weakened a supervisor’s ability to address performance issues by essentially giving the teacher an “escape hatch” to avoid meeting the expectations of the supervisor.
    What is getting lost here is that this is not about a field trip, censorship, or a parent complaint. It is not about age, tenure or salary level as has also been suggested in the media. This is about a school administrator working to help an employee improve her job performance and to improve the educational experience of students. Even someone who has taught for a long time can still have opportunity for professional development.

    As far as being an award-winning teacher or Star Award Teacher of the Year 2004, this is a recognition that took place periodically in the local paper because a local business wanted to sponsor the monthly ad to show support for teachers in the community – someone from each campus was usually represented. There was no set way employees were chosen at each campus for this ad. Some campuses went by tenure for inclusion, others were selected based on something that had occurred that month. Teachers were recognized, as were volunteers, custodians, receptionists, and others.

    At this time, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay. The Administration and the Board felt that this was the best action for the teacher, the students and the school. A recommendation for the non-renewal of her contract will be forthcoming from the superintendent.
    This is the rest of the story or as much as would be prudent and appropriate to convey.

    Comment by Texas Teacher — September 27, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  7. I have to admit that education reporting by local newspapers often leaves a lot to be desired. However, no matter what the performance issues were, I think that there is a serious problem with the administration if it doesn’t bother to document continuing problems and only at the teacher’s request.

    Furthermore, for the district, or any public organization for that matter, to begin disciplinary proceedings based on one written evaluation isn’t following basic rules for personnel that are designed to protect both the employee and the administration. It’s all fine and well that the principal tried to resolve problems informally (see, she’s such a nice person after all) but how could she think it was appropriate to give a negative performance review based on verbal warnings? Let’s face it, if there was an adequate document trial from the administration, none of this would be an issue.

    Then there is the whole issue of another school being willing to accept her as a transfer. Surely that administration had the opportunity (they may not have taken it) to review her work history at Fisher? Did McGee tell them “oh my big bad principal doesn’t like me and they’re just upset because of a parent complaint?” Did this other principal not care to find out more information or just ignored it? If that’s the case, there is another principal not doing his or her job correctly. I know previous employers are limited in what they can say about people applying for other jobs but this is within the same district.

    As for McGee not producing her evaluations, the district itself has admitted that it had not provided documentation on its performance concerns. Are employees in the district regularly disciplined, reprimanded, or terminated based on such limited documentation? If so, I’m surprised the district hasn’t been sued sooner.

    Nothing in the district’s statement suggests that the handling of McGee followed adequate personnel guidelines. If this is the statement that the district has been trying to get out to the media, I can see why the media has refused to print it.

    Comment by texased — September 27, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

  8. “This is about a school administrator working to help an employee improve her job performance and to improve the educational experience of students. Even someone who has taught for a long time can still have opportunity for professional development.”

    That’s a bunch of bull crap.

    A teacher that has been teaching for over 25 years, and has received a Star Teacher Award for her dedication, who has happy, successful students and supportive parents doesn’t need anyone forcing a “performance improvement plan” down her throat because they want to assert their control in an unfair manner! I seriously doubt she was in need of any “improvement plan” being insultingly shoved down her throat by an administrator that doesn’t know anything about teaching her subject! It seems to me that Ms Lawson has a personality conflict with this teacher, for whatever unfounded reason, and has used her authority to unfairly and inappropriately make things difficult for Ms. McGee…and that is discrimination and abuse of administrative power and it’s illegal.

    If the fieldtrip is really the reason, then it is an invalid reason to fire someone or let them go with non-renewal of a contract. I think the Dallas Museum of Art puts a hell of a lot of effort into their educational programs and hundreds of kids visit the museum each week without “censorship” or nudity ever being an issue. The very suggestion of that as a reason for reprimanding a teacher is absurd. The district needs to go on record and make it absolutely clear to parents, and citizens of DFW that this is not the issue and apologize to the Museum and the arts community for any misunderstanding of inappropriate censorship against this public institution.

    If the real reason is weak job performance then the district should might not want to give the teacher an award honoring her performance and then turn around and get rid of her on the basis that her performance is weak. It comes across as hypocritical and makes your school district look stupid.

    If you think the teacher needs to improve on something then help her develop her teaching by giving her the proper tools, time, expenses, assistants and support to make the improvements. If you simply let her go then you send the message, we don’t know how to work with people, we just have a revolving door, and we don’t want to be bothered, we don’t value seasoned instructors, it’s their fault. That’s bad policy and it’s awful for the children and it makes for low moral among the district’s employees.

    So every way I look at this the Principle is at fault. Ms. Lawson needs to be fired. Period. She has created an environment that has caused the teachers to pick sides and make inappropriate judgments against their fellow educator. Any school board member that would try to cover-up the problem by supporting Ms Lawson over the teacher needs to be replaced in the next election.

    The “performance” of a teacher is always the scapegoat for bad administration and policies. Teachers should be sick and tired of having to fear for their jobs because they can’t jump through every circus hoop that the ISD throws at them to make the school look good or to get financial backing. They work their asses off, they get shit for pay and no help or respect by administrators…only lip service. They sacrifice their personal time and energy and they constantly live with the fear of loosing their jobs because of administrative politics. It’s sad and it needs to stop. Frisco parents should be mad as hell because this effects their kids and what kind of environment they receive their education…they are the ones who suffer because of this crap.

    Comment by D. Pope — September 27, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

  9. Contact them and let them know how you feel…

    Rick Reedy – Superintendent of Schools
    reedyr@friscoisd.org

    Frisco ISD
    6942 Maple Street
    Frisco, Texas 75034
    (469) 633-6000

    Nancy Lawson – Principal
    phone: 469.633.2600
    Fax: 469.633.2650

    Wilma Fisher Elementary
    2500 Old Orchard Dr.
    Frisco, TX 75034

    Comment by For UR Info — September 28, 2006 @ 10:15 am

  10. As a parent who is seeing the terrible impact this is having on my child’s school, I’d like to plead with everyone NOT to get into some shouting match with the school. I’m not saying there is not an important issue here—but I see the staff and teachers trying to deal with literally thousands of incredibly rude people calling, attacking them, their values and their capabilities. Please take a moment to breathe before you proceed. I’m not trying to defend any actions taken by the board or the administration, but I do think that it is important that we all realize that we have only really heard one side of the story. The administration is now starting to make attempts to tell as much of their side as they can without violating Ms. McGee’s rights–but it appears that they are being met with a refusal by the local media to cover the school’s side. (I can tell you from personal experience that I tried to contact the local media to suggest that there was a different perspective they should report on–they refused to contact me back. I’m not speculating what their motives are, but rather just saying that they have NOT told both sides yet.)

    Again, PLEASE respect the many many hardworking people at the school, in the district, and in this community. Those of you who have called the school and shouted profanity at the staff aren’t helping matters at all, and honestly should be ashamed of those tactics…. I’m NOT saying don’t contact the school, but perhaps sending an email or a letter (to the school board?) would be a better approach right now.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 28, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

  11. This is a letter I sent to Rick Reedy, the Head of Communications for FISD, the Dallas Morning News, the Observer, and the Star Telegram. I have gotten the rote response from the FISD about the museum visit not being the issue of why she was dismissed. Still, a 28 year record, an award, and the sequence of events seeming all too convenient, I am willing to believe Sydney McGee more than the spin of the event by FISD:

    Principal Nancy Lawson
    Wilma Fisher Elementary School
    2500 Old Orchard Dr.
    Frisco, TX 75034

    Dear Principal Lawson:

    I’ve recently come upon the news that the Frisco County School Board has voted to not renew Sydney McGee’s teaching contract with the school, after twenty-eight years of exemplary teaching service to the community. This news has appalled me, and has caused me great disappointment in the Frisco community, the school district, Fisher Elementary, and you as the appointed leader of that school. It has also caused me great sadness for both Sydney McGee, whose work has apparently gone unnoticed and will now be tarnished with this dismissal, and her students, whose art education will now suffer from your and the school board’s ignorant censorship.

    How dare the board fire a woman for taking her students on a field trip to a museum, which is, inherently itself, a place of education and forum for celebration of human culture and history. Do you realize how ludicrous this is? How dare these people tell themselves and the community they supposedly serve that they know better than museum curators, scientists, artists, and others whose vocations hold a much higher standard and understanding of the human being as Pupil and Student. What they have done is an insult to the educational community of this country, which already has enough problems as it is.

    Our students are severely behind in their reading and mathematics skills when compared to the rest of the world’s children. Why would we in addition steal from them an equally important awareness of art and culture? It seems that if the board had its way we would soon be “educating” our students in sound proof black boxes, children solitarily confined from one another and all people, unable to see their hands in front of their faces because they’re kept in the dark, for fear of them seeing something that may challenge their minds, or better yet, their parents’. In practicing this kind of “education,” our children’s minds will indeed turn into these boxes. Empty. Silent. Void. Due to the actions of the parents, the board, and you, it seems that your minds have already become such places.

    You and other fear-mongering people wrongfully in power are advocating and breeding a new generation of Americans that will in effect go against the very ideals this country was founded on: liberty, happiness, the ability to express one’s self freely, and the freedom to learn. Knowledge is power, but you are using your power to squelch the young’s ability to gain it. For knowledge’s sake, and for the sake of the future of this country, I implore you and others to put aside this naïve reactionary fundamentalist prism through which everything seems to be filtered, dissected and ultimately destroyed. It is only hurting the children you claim to be protecting. This is the same type of prism that radical Islamist terrorists use to facilitate their equally distorted doctrines.

    Finally, shame on you, Nancy Lawson. Shame on you for allowing the dismissal of a teacher who is clearly an outstanding example of what a teacher should be. Shame on you for not coming to her defense, for her sake, and for the sake of the children at your elementary school. And if it is true that you initially suggested she take her students to the museum, than shame on you for being a façade of a person, and standing alongside those with the power in order to protect yourself. That would make you a textbook example of a coward.

    You have completely failed in your job as principal, educator, and leader. Shame on you.

    Comment by Christopher Cantwell — September 28, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  12. I’m curious as to what exactly the principal’s criticisms re: classroom performance were.

    Also, it would be great if the people sticking up for FISD could make the same gesture the people sticking up for Ms. McGee are, and sign their names to their comments.

    Comment by Michael Pullmann — September 28, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  13. I’m not sure if you are considering me as one of the people “sticking up for the FISD”; I personally don’t think that I AM doing that. Rather, I’m trying to make sure we consider all sides of the issue. (And I’m alarmed by the fact that the media isn’t talking to people telling the other side. I’m not saying that Ms. McGee is wrong–I’m just saying that as responsible citizens we have to make sure we make informed decisions, and that we don’t reach our conclusions missing some information….) As I’ve said earlier, if the whole story IS what Ms. McGee has said, then CLEARLY the administration and board is at fault. I just don’t know enough to know if that IS the whole story.

    In answer to your comment about signing names, I’ll give you my honest answer. Because this IS the school my daughter goes to, I can see very clearly what is happening there. I can see the literally thousands of phone calls, emails and letters, many of them quite rude, that the school is receiving. If I publish my name here, I’m sure that some people will perceive my desire to be balanced as me “taking the side of the FISD”, and will decide to direct anger at me. My home phone number is listed, and I don’t want to be personally attacked the way the staff and teachers at the school are being attacked…. Plain and simple, that’s why I don’t put my name….

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 28, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  14. I was actually one of the students to go on to field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art in the fifth grade. Nobody really laughed or made a big deal about the art work… if they saw it. It was just a beautiful piece of art. This is SO ridiculous that Ms. McGee is fired. she was a great, experienced teacher that everyone loved. How dare the principal fire such a great woman. Besides… the trip was approved of the principal. I don’t think this is the parent’s fault… it is Nancy Lawson’s. I am furious about this!!! I love you Ms.McGee and I’m always thinking of you.

    Comment by student on the field trip — September 28, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

  15. Suspicion…

    This is part of a larger issue where the School Board probably wants to faze out the art program.

    They started with a complaint and got rid of the teacher and now they will probably say, “oh the art classes cause problems, and supplies are expensive and we can’t budget it, and we can’t find a replacement for the teacher, so we are just going to scale back the art program FOR NOW”

    BOOM! Before you know it, no art for the kids and the school will hire another “coach” for some sport/PE class (probably a brother-in-law or relative of someone on the school board or board of trustees or related to Ms Lawson) with the excuse that the kids need more “activity” and exercise. The arts in your school will be forgotten and dropped completely. Gone.

    Wait and see. It will happen.
    Just like it has happened at THOUSANDS of other schools!

    Comment by Wake Up People! — September 29, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

  16. Before jumping to too many conclusions, keep in mind that the principal of this school is actually a musician, and is a former music teacher. I think it’s probably unfair to over-generalize and say that she is trying to eliminate the arts from the school. If that ever was an attempt to do that, I can assure you that none of the parents I know would stand for it. The Frisco school district has a budget that clearly CAN afford an arts program, and I have honestly not felt that the administration or the district is trying to say otherwise.

    We (parents) have been notified that there has been aggressive recruiting of a new art teacher, and that a new teacher has now been hired.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 29, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  17. Funny, I got word for word almost the exact same letter as “Texas Teacher”. It looks like they have a pat response for everyone who writes. LOTS of gaps in it. Starting from the bottom is the letter I sent, the response I received, and my rejoinder.

    Well then, out of fairness, I will post your response on the various boards I frequent which are discussing it. Before I do, I would be interested in hearing some clarification if you feel you would like to. Maybe it is my perspective, but it seems a little like you are dancing around the art museum incident. I have trouble believing she would be able to use it so effectively as ammunition against you if it was a complete nonevent. Was there a complaint filed against her because a student viewed a nude sculpture at the museum? Was she given a verbal or written reprimand for this? If the answer is yes, it still makes FISD look bad, the rest of the story is really immaterial. You say the museum trip was not the catalyst for the suspension and the recommendation for nonrenewal of her contract. It is difficult to believe that something as simple as a teacher evaluation with “some areas for improvement”, and then the teacher requesting documentation and later a transfer would culminate in a suspension and suggestion for nonrenewal in and of itself. There seems to be a serious gap there, and perhaps you cannot talk about that. If it is the case that the art museum incident was a non-event, then I feel for you, because you still have a long and probably expensive uphill battle ahead. However, if she thought to use the museum complaint, I imagine something must have been made of it by the principal, and in that case, regardless of any other issues she may have been having with administration, the principal was wrong. If a principal receives a complaint from a parent that is as completely baseless as this is, it is the principal’s job to shield the teacher from it, to stand up to the parent, and defend the actions of her employee, even to a strident, troublemaking mother, just as you are defending the actions of the district administration to me.

    ——————————————————————————–

    From: Shana McKay-Wortham [mailto:McKayS@friscoisd.org]
    Sent: Friday, September 29, 2006 11:04 AM
    To: Mark Myers
    Subject: Re: Contact Frisco ISD Leadership

    There is more to the story. A school district is at an extreme disadvantage in the area of personnel matters due to issues of employee privacy and ethical considerations.

    However, since an employee of the district has chosen to express her concerns publicly in a hearing and in the media since that time, it seems fair that a school district can at least point to facts that were stated in that public hearing. Much has been misrepresented.

    This is not about a field trip to an art museum. The timing of circumstances has allowed the teacher to wave that banner and it has played well in the media. FISD is a strong supporter of the arts and the Dallas Museum of Arts – our art program is rich and award-winning.

    At issue here are performance concerns and the ability of a supervisor to address these concerns. As early as May 2005 the principal verbally brought to the attention of the teacher that there were some areas for improvement. She suggested at that time that a field trip experience might be a way to strengthen the art program and the Dallas Museum of Art was discussed as a viable option – it was not mandated as has been reported.

    During the spring of the next school year, 2005-2006, when the teacher began planning the field trip, the principal suggested that the field trip be delayed until the next school year because she was concerned that the planning process was not sufficient.

    When the teacher received her evaluation conference, which was in mid May and after the field trip, some issues of concern, unrelated to the field trip, were discussed and the teacher stated that she didn’t think it was fair to evaluate her on expectations that had not been clearly communicated to her in writing. The principal did then document the performance areas that needed to be addressed – at the teacher’s request – but the documentation was not brought on by the field trip; the field trip was not a catalyst for anything or the final straw to get her in “hot water.” She was never told there would not be a next year for her or that she was not “Frisco material” as has been reported. No teachers’ job status would be jeopardized based on students’ incidental viewing of nude art.

    After the memo was provided as requested, the teacher did file a grievance and also asked to be transferred if there was an opening in the district. The transfer was denied because the central administration felt that if you allow a teacher to transfer after a supervisor has given them guidelines for improvement then you have weakened a supervisor’s ability to address performance issues by essentially giving the teacher an “escape hatch” to avoid meeting the expectations of the supervisor.
    What is getting lost here is that this is not about a field trip, censorship, or a parent complaint. It is not about age, tenure or salary level as has also been suggested in the media. This is about a school administrator working to help an employee improve her job performance and to improve the educational experience of students. Even someone who has taught for a long time can still have opportunity for professional development. Teachers were never directed to “ostracize” her as has been reported and she was never directed to not discuss her “plight.”

    As an aside, the Star Award that is being mentioned in the context of the teacher being an award-winning teacher or Star Award Teacher of the Year 2004 is a recognition that took place periodically in the local paper because a local business wanted to sponsor the monthly ad to show support for teachers in the community – someone from each campus was usually represented. There was no set way employees were chosen at each campus for this ad. Some campuses went by tenure for inclusion, others selected based on something that had occurred that month. Teachers were recognized, as were volunteers, custodians, receptionists, others. FISD does not conduct the Teacher of the Year program.

    At this time, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay. The Administration and the Board felt that this was the best action for all concerned. A recommendation for the non-renewal of her contract will be forthcoming from the superintendent.

    >>> “Mark Myers” 09/29/06 10:57 AM >>>

    I recently read with disgust the case of Sydney McGee, the Fisher Elementary School art teacher who was reprimanded and placed on administrative leave because a student saw a nude sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art, and the student’s parents complained. You can’t get more mainstream than the Dallas Museum of Art. Anything found there could not be lewd or lack artistic merit. There is nothing inherently lewd about an artistic nude, such as Michaelangelo’s David, the Venus de Milo, Rodin’s Thinker.

    I hope you will take quick action to reverse an unfortunate mistake made by FISD, and reinstate Ms. McGee, with a public apology. Already, the story is getting out to the rest of the state of Texas, and will assuredly get out to the rest of the nation. The press so far is making FISD and the entire Frisco community look reactionary, backward and small-minded.

    One has to wonder, when a teacher is facing termination because a student saw a tasteful nude sculpture at a mainstream art museum, what is next? Kids happen to see a billboard for a Rick’s Cabaret on the way to school, and the bus driver gets fired? It seems awful to me that while Americans are fighting and dying over in Iraq and Afghanistan to preserve freedoms, one of the most important of which is an education free from censorship, something long denied the Afghans under the Taliban, that we have cases of a teacher’s rights being trampled right here in Texas.

    Decent teachers are hard to find these days. The pay is poor, the children are more and more disrespectful every year, and the work is much more demanding than most people realize. How much harder will it become to find good teachers if they start fearing termination because some strident mother who lets her child watch all sorts of violence on TV marches indignantly to the school over the child seeing a tasteful nude sculpture, and demands heads roll? If teachers don’t feel that administrators will stand up for them, not cower and roll over every time some uptight prig tries to bully them, why should they put up with everything else? Why should they not walk away in droves?

    There is also the matter of the inevitable wrongful termination suit that you will be facing soon. The school district will have to spend thousands to tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars out of already strapped district coffers to attempt to defend and indefensible action. This is misappropriation of public funds, pure and simple, and any group of taxpayers in Frisco would be justified and have an excellent case if they brought civil and criminal charges. I have taken courses towards being a Certified Fund Raising Professional, and have learned the law regarding liability of members of boards of nonprofit organizations. You all have wide exposure to joint and severable criminal and civil liability for misappropriation should anyone see fit to sue, and I believe such a lawsuit for one of these cases of school district wrongful termination suits. Do you want to be the test case?

    The only course for you to take to avoid all this is to take immediate action to reinstate Ms. McGee and make an unqualified public apology.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Myers

    This message contains information which may be confidential and privileged. Unless you are the addressee (or authorized to receive for the addressee) you may not use, copy or disclose to anyone the message or any information contained in the message. If you have received this message in error, please advise the sender by reply e-mail and delete the message. This email may contain the thoughts and opinions of the employee sending the message and may not represent the official policy of Frisco Independent Schools.

    Comment by Mark Myers — September 29, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

  18. Administrators across the country are being given more and more power. Unfortunately, administrators do use that power unethically at times. Many principals like to flex their power just to prove that they have it. A teacher that has invested so many years to students does not deserve the treatment that Ms. McGee has received. Unfortunately, this happens much too often. I’ve seen a nationally board certified teacher that was one year away from retirement forced out by a new young principal wanting to prove that she had power. That teacher had spent those years spending much of her salary to make a learning rich environment for her classroom. A personality conflict destroyed her career and retirement. This last year, I saw a principal have a teacher fired 3 weeks after letting that principal know that she was not coming back the next year as her minister husband was starting a new church in another state. She was a great teacher, but this principal didn’t like her. The teacher had spoken in a meeting expressing concern about the principal’s “Star” parade. In this parade, students that had not passed their state exams would sit in a circle and watch students that did pass get a prize and then hold that prize and march in front of them. She had a concern for the self esteem of those students that had special needs or learning disabilities. Teachers at this school have been told to listen and follow the directions given and that those directions are non negotiable and not open for discussion. Absolute power does corrupt absolutely.

    Comment by Mary — October 1, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  19. I smell an administrative cover-up too. Been there.

    Comment by L. Weidner — October 1, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

  20. I am very disappointed in the one-sided slant to the news stories regarding this Fisher Elementary Art Teacher who is being put on leave with pay with a recommended non-renewal of her contract next spring.

    I do not want to have a debate on the subject of nude art at the DMA as I know very well that the district would never put a teacher on a growth plan solely for this reason. I know that the administrators, school board members, principals, and teachers support the visual arts in a very positive way. Many districts have cut their art programs, but not FISD. FISD’s art programs have received several award winning recognitions in the visual arts. Our district was honored for the Outstanding Youth Art Month Observance Award from the Texas Art Education Association for involvement on a state level. One can go to the district’s website at www. friscoisd.org and find several news articles on art endeavors and art student recognitions. Each year the district puts on a district wide art show in honor of Youth Art Month which is celebrated in the spring. The district allows budget monies for the art program including not only supplies but fine art prints to share with students in the classroom. They support and allow field trips to such places as the Dallas Museum of Art, Hall Office Park’s outdoor sculptures, and the like. Student artworks are continually displayed in our community. The City of Frisco voted to pass a proposition regarding public art being an integral part of our city. Our city has the highly regarded Hall Office Park collection of outdoor sculptures open to the public for ground tours. One can drive around various locations in Frisco and discover public works of art everywhere.

    You cannot tell me that we are some cuturally-insensitive group of citizens and that our school administrators are as well. It is simply not true! I feel bad that the media attention (including forums like this, talk radio, newspapers, and television broadcasts) brought on our town has put us in such a negative light. This is pure smoke and mirrors brought on by this teacher in an attempt to take the heat off of the real issues at hand. She was never fired, only asked to improve. Instead of trying to improve, she went straight to the media bad-mouthing her principal and her employer which is FISD. I think they have every right not to renew her contract at this point.

    Thank you for hearing my opinion which is factually driven and personally driven for me to want to communicate in this public forum.

    Comment by Angel — October 1, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  21. From what I’ve heard, her 28 years were NOT all in the FISD. On a talk radio show a few weeks ago someone called in mentioning some sort of issues she was involved in with McKinney ISD, yet know one seems to want to investigate that. I’d like to see reporters do more in depth interviews and investigating before reporting one side to a story that obviously has two sides.

    Comment by Chris — October 1, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

  22. What is happening in Texas? I heard about this story yesterday on NPR. Is the school board nuts? Does one parent really have that much power? I suspect that the Dallas Museum of Art is a highly supported endeavor in the City of Dallas and probably supported by some of the members of the school board and other highly respected individuals and companies in the Dallas. Can the members of the school board REALLY be influenced by a narrow-mined parent? What if a French teacher in the same school system took the French Club to France; would the kids not be allowed in the Louvre? Get a grip!

    Cathy Storch

    Comment by Cathy Storch — October 2, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  23. I heard this on the news in Florida and have read the comments on this forum. I, too, was agast tht a parent would have so much power having a teacher fired for exposing their child to art at the Dallas Museum.

    However, after reading all the comments and the confliçting reasons for the dismissal, I think legal recourse is the only fair thing to do. It is time for school administration to put their cards on the table as to why the teachers job performance was substandard; character witnesses for both the principal, administrator, and teacher including prior employment, file contents of administrative progress reports, the name and testimony of the angry parent,and any other pertinent information needed to settle this dispute. It will only cost taxpayers 1M or a little less, not including the damages, if awarded.

    Good grief, people at Frisco. Act like grownups. Give her a trnsfer. If not, McGee….sue.

    Comment by Margaret Bryan — October 2, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

  24. LawsonN@friscoisd.org– Principles email
    MinettB@friscoisd.org– President of the Boards email

    Comment by X — October 3, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  25. Congratulations, Frisco, you just made it to the big time. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/30/education/30teacher.html?ref=education

    I know none of us readers know both sides of the story, but what we are hearing so far does not bode well for FISD. Being from Dallas myself (and now living in DC), I would ask you think about how others around the country will view your actions. Think about the Texas stereotypes you are allowing to propogate by disciplining a teacher that was trying to expose her students to classical art.

    Comment by RS — October 3, 2006 @ 3:40 pm

  26. It is not about the art. It is about performance reviews in the 2005-2006 school year. She has been asked to allow FISD to make public her personnel file so that the truth can come out. She has refused, unless all everyone’s files can be opened. No one else’s jobs are in question. If she is so confident that the reason she was SUSPENDED is for the art trip, then she should allow FISD to release the files to prove her case. If you want to complain to someone, complain to Sydney McGee. She is the one making the district look bad.

    Comment by ME — October 4, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

  27. Oh please, how disrespectful to a 28 year veteran…..they should have let the other school take her..how conniving and cruel to put her mortgage in jeopardy………………..we will be happy to have her in Los Angeles and we have better pay and benefits too! She can sell her house at a premium price in Texas and come here now that the housing market has cooled…………….

    Comment by ellen — October 4, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  28. I have children at Fisher Elementary School and Ms. Lawson is a exemplary administrator. I have seen posted several messages from teachers at Fisher and all of them support Ms. Lawson. Just today the Dallas Morning News printed a story stating that Ms. McGee’s former school district, McKinney ISD, paid the teacher to leave the district after receiving a number of complaints, she left McKinney ISD and came to Frisco ISD, where she has been for six years. Frisco ISD does not have any awards it gives to teachers. Her award was given as stated above by a local newspaper as part of a recognition by a local company. Some of the other teachers who were also on that field trip also complained because when they got to the museum there was some type of mixup and Ms.McGee had to spend over an hour inside of the museum while 89 fifth graders waited outside (not a easy thing to do) because she was not prepared and had to then take the students on a different tour than what she had originally planned to take them on, I would assume this maybe part of what Ms. Lawson spoke to Ms. McGee about. Seems to me so many people have just heard one side of the story and cannot reason that maybe there was and is more to the story than children seeing a nude statue…..Frisco has and will support the arts.

    Comment by Nancy — October 4, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

  29. The attempts that the FISD is making now in bringing up previous “questionable” performance records of Ms. McGee is revealing to the public the lack of backbones and how pitiful your reactionary actions are toward resolving this issue.

    Plain and simple, the principal, Ms. Lawson, having made one grave mistake after another in this matter, and now that this has escalated to the national level, needs to just simply offer a public apology to Ms. MGee and the rest of the people for your ignorance, cowardness, and incompetence. I need not explain further here as it is already said enough in this blog about how sorry you are. It’s not too late!

    Comment by Tad Tran — October 5, 2006 @ 10:58 am

  30. I have to laugh at the feeding fenzy created by McGee and her lawyer, with their media blitz. They’ve contacted every national media outlet who would be interested in a really sexy “Teacher gets fired for taking kids to a museum” headline. Be patient, and get your facts understood, before throwing out put downs of the administrators and the people of Frisco. Here’s some to chew on, more will be coming in the near term:

    Dallas Morning News (10/5)
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/100506dnccofriscoteacher.28d02d0.html

    Frisco ISD (
    http://www.friscoisd.org/news/mcgee_06oct4.htm

    Comment by Get the facts first — October 5, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

  31. I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management and as such understand that the principal and district can’t play the media like a virtuoso as Ms. Gee has. The ignorance of the ill-informed shocks me. This is not about a nude sculpture. This is not about potentially one parent complaint. I too felt the trip was chaotic, the DMA staff was rude and museum was over-booked. I primarily blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability does belong to the organizer. She should have accepted the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings and opportunity to improve. Interestingly enough, I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their lack of interest or apathy may be a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids normally rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. When asked, they can’t recall anything of significance that they have done there. I have asked myself why my kids don’t know the basics of art. Why did my 5th grader not have any understanding of the purpose of the field trip? Why was it not part of unit of study? For example, if they learn about the ocean and then they visit the aquarium – the knowledge is applicable to the trip. I wonder why the children did not truly have a clue about the intent. I don’t presume to know all of the facts that led to this point as no on truly ever does in an employee/manager situation due to privacy laws. However, I do know that this is a phenomenal school that has tons of school spirit, parental support, wonderful teachers and administrators, and intelligent, considerate kids. The mission is to educate our kids and to encourage their love of learning. Under Mrs. Lawson, the staff has set its goal to drive excellence similar to that espoused in Jim Collin’s “From Good to Great”. Perhaps this is really about the fact that Ms. McGee may not have been willing to get on the bus to get us there. If that is the case, then move on and please leave our children and school in peace. The negativity needs to stop. Pursue your actions with dignity through the proper channels. The media and court of public opinion is not the place for a fair assessment of her paid administrative leave.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 6, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

  32. It would be nice if the people that have absolutely NO CONNECTION to Frisco, Fisher Elementary, or real knowledge of the Principal, Nancy Lawson, would FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO

    Comment by Concerned Teacher — October 6, 2006 @ 10:38 pm

  33. A comment to “Get the facts first”, “Parent Chaperone”, “Concerned Teacher”, “Sad Teacher” and others….

    I agree 100% with what you are saying. I find it extremely disheartening that people across the country are so blinded by the stereotypes they have of the “ignorant Texan” that they refuse to acknowledge anything else to the story. I have been saddened by the refusal (until the last few days) of the media to report both sides of this story. Alas, even today we made CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/10/08/art.teacher.fired.ap/index.html) with a story that isn’t entirely balanced.

    To those of you who have read my posts on this site (several different threads) over the past couple of weeks, you will have seen the evolution of my thoughts. I’ve tried to provide a more balanced look at what’s going on than many people here have. I’ve pointed out my firsthand knowledge of the school, its teachers and its administration. I’ve pointed out the fact that my daughter had Ms. McGee as a teacher, and loved her. I’ve pointed out the fact that the media, from the beginning, was very one-sided in their reporting. I’ve pointed out the dedication that the parents and the community here in Frisco have shown toward the arts. I’ve commented on my views on what the district could do better in regard to their communications about this issue. In other words, I’ve tried to make the people here who are reading these comments understand that this is not a one-sided story.

    This afternoon, I’m sad to say that I’ve just about reached the conclusion that I’m talking into a vacuum. I continue to read so many hate-filled remarks, and so many comments from people who clearly have seen the inflamatory headlines and thus feel they know everything there is to know, and need to tell this to the world. I have not given up my passion for our school and our community–not at all. I AM having serious doubts about the willingness of most of America to think deeply, to evaluate what is real and what isn’t…. It is a very frustrating feeling for me.

    To those of you who know what I’m talking about, who are feeling something like this—I’m with you. Hopefully this will be an event that will serve as a catalyst to make our community (both in and out of the school) stronger. But while it’s going on—it sure sucks! 🙂

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 9, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  34. To Fisher Parent:
    I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the balanced, thoughtful approach that I think is missing from both sides. About a year ago, a study was published that showed only around 15% of the population is willing to change their mind when they are shown facts to the contrary. It was an amazing study that explained a lot and unfortunately, I can’t find my reference to it anymore. In any case, I think you fall into the 15% category. Thanks for taking the time to post here.

    Comment by texased — October 9, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

  35. I too would love to maintain more balance, but it is so hard when I feel like the media has been unbalanced. It makes me want to tell the school’s side. I am usually one who sees the big picture, but I am having a hard time doing that. I admire you, Fisher Parent, for hanging in there and seeing different view points. My mind can’t wrap around the fact that Ms. McGee has ALLOWED the media to have an all out blitz. She should know better. As a matter of fact, She knows better about other things too, like she knows better that it wasn’t all about the nude art. That is the really sad part of the whole thing. I’m done.

    Comment by Angel — October 9, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  36. To Angel, Fisher Parent, texased, Sad Teacher and the others,
    Stay the course. Only through factual communication does the truth win out. I am saddened by Ms. McGee’s choice of venue for this discourse. Initially I felt that letting her transfer would have been a good choice. Now, I stand firm that not having her be part of the district is the best choice. Had she pursued legal action to transfer, I would have supported that position. My change of heart comes from the fact that she has chosen to besmirch us all through this martydom. The truth is inconsequential to her. If she truly cared about our children, she would not portray our school in this negative light. Her issue should have been about the policy regarding her transfer request and not this red herring she is using to deflect from her refusal to accept constructive criticism.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 9, 2006 @ 9:28 pm

  37. If there are people here who aren’t reading all of the different threads regarding Ms. McGee, I’m curious to hear anyone’s response to the hypothetical I posted in a different thread: Post #16 in the “Creating a Perfect Storm” thread…. I absolutely acknowledge that my hypothetical is just that, but I strongly believe that it carries a valid point about this whole issue. (Of course I’m biased–I wrote it! *smile*)

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 10, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

  38. Angel and Parent Chaperone—I agree with what you say. The big turning point for me was seeing Ms. McGee’s staged picture in the New York Times—a picture where she posed for a NY Times reporter in the Dallas Museum of Art, looking sad and serious. I respect her believing in her skills, I respect her fighting for a cause she believes in, but to me that was so clearly a case of her trying to feed the media a sensationalist story–and that doesn’t serve her cause or our schools…. That was the point when it became painfully clear that this wasn’t about fighting for what’s “right”, but about fighting for publicity….

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 10, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  39. So true Frisco Parent. It is disheartening. The turning point for me was when she said it was ALL ONLY because kids saw some nude art and a parent complained and that was why she was let go. I knew right then and there that it was a bunch of bull. No one has ever been fired because of one parent complaint whether it was about nude art or whatever. If this were the case, we’d have no teachers left!

    Comment by Angel — October 10, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  40. I would like to mention that the only info I have seen about her poor evaluation is that she wore flip flops and lack of lesson planning. Is this a reason to fire or deny a transfer? And the people who said her field trip was poorly planned? Have any of you organized a field trip for 89 before? She could not control the DMA and any of its employees. As a current Frisco parent, I have seen first hand the high handed attitude of other Frisco parents. (For examples check Frisco-online.com, it is ridiculous what they complain about) Teaching is a VERY hard, underpaid profession. I don’t think she needs to relesase her evaluation. An evaluation is always going to show areas in need of improvement. Unless they are going to release other evaluations of other teachers to compare hers to, they cannot just have hers released to nitpick.

    Comment by Soon to be Former Frisco Resident — October 11, 2006 @ 8:55 am

  41. After reading the thoughts on this issue I remind myself two things.
    The media is all about sensationalism and people such as Mrs. McGee and her
    attorney know this. Whether she is in the wrong or not, this could not be good for her credibility down the road. What a better way to get her story out than to create an uproar. The other sad fact is that our society has far too many
    other stories of substance that this same energy could be used in a positive way to help others. Think about it, can anyone commenting on this topic give any evidence to support their reaction? I cannot. My child went on this field trip and I am so tired of everyone making it out to be about “the field trip”. This is all very sad to me! Honestly, what kind of example are you setting for your kids by sitting around pointing fingers when none of us could possible know the real inside story except the administrators. At the end of the day, it is alot of people blowing hot air about something they know nothing about. Therefore, taking a side in this is not my place. Instead of listening to the news, I suggest praying for all involved. I am sure this will have a much better outcome for everyone.

    Comment by Fisher parent — October 11, 2006 @ 4:37 pm

  42. 🙂 Fisher parent (with a lower case p…): I agree with your comment about outsiders (and even those of us whose children go to Fisher) not knowing everything about what happened….

    Just to avoid confusion for others here on this board, I wanted to point out that “Fisher parent” (with a lower case p) is not the same person as me (“Fisher Parent” with a capital p).

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 11, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  43. Oops. Ignore my last post! I guess I forgot who I am. (I confused Fisher parent with me, Frisco Parent…) Now I feel silly. *laugh*

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 11, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

  44. Some informative information to read here:

    http://www.friscoisd.org/news/mcgee_response_06oct.htm

    All in all, she was never fired because of the field trip. Matter of fact, she was never fired, only put on paid administrative leave because she was disturbing the learning environment.

    Interesting.

    Really you can see how the media would take her twisted-around-to-fit-her-needs information and sensationalize it to the public while the district’s hands were tied and could not respond fully for fear of privacy rights.

    Comment by Angel — October 11, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  45. Does Texas rank 47th or 50th in Education? What kind of mother would complain about her son/daughter going to an art museum after he/she signed the permission slip? Is the parent not aware that there are Nude statues in an art museum? What does that show you about some Frisco parents? I am so glad I did not move there.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  46. The comment from Paula shows exactly how judgemental people are being. You assume our school is ranked poorly. This school is exemplary rated. Do your homework before you post. To be honest, I am so glad you didn’t move here if you look down on those of us that did. We are neither ignorant nor ill-informed.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 12, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

  47. Did a parent complain about his/ her student going to an art museum after signing a permission slip? Answer the question. Did the parent know there are nuded statues or is he/ she culturally challenged? Take a look at the Board’s individual profile. Compare it Highland Park where this would NEVER happen. This tells the public much.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

  48. An exemplary ranking is a state ranking not a national ranking. You do your homework.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  49. Paula,

    I’m not sure what you are basing your statement on. I just spent a few minutes researching national statistics on education. There are a significant number of organizations that rank the states in terms of the quality of their education. They consider such factors as per-student spending, teacher salaries, test scores, acceptance of students into colleges, and surveys of teachers and parents in each of the states. I’m not going to take the time to give the exact numbers for each of these surveys (spend a few minutes on Google and you’ll find lots of data…), however what I find across the board is that Texas comes in right about in the middle nationally–NOT in 47th or 50th place as you suggest. For example, one of the rankings that seems to be referenced frequently by major educational data sites is an annual study done by Moran Quitno Press. In these results (http://www.morganquitno.com/edrank.htm) you’ll see that Texas ranks 24th nationally, and also browsing their historical records shows that the trend in Texas is a positive one–the ranking of Texas on this site and on several others I looked at has been moving toward the top of the list. Thus, I believe that the overwhelming evidence disproves your initial claim.

    Now, I also wanted to address your claim a few minutes ago on a post on another thread on this site where you indicated that Fisher and the Frisco school district are clearly inferior to Highland Park (another suburb of Dallas, Texas) First let me make it clear that I do NOT believe that test scores are a full measure of the excellence of a school. I absolutely believe that there is more to learning that test scores. However, in trying to find data to compare schools online, a lot of what you will find are test scores–so I’ll use that as one measure of the schools.

    From the greatschools.net website, here is the data for Fisher Elementary in Frisco:

    Scale: % meeting or exceeding standards
    Source: TX Education Agency, 2005-2006

    Grade 3

    Reading
    100% (2006)
    100% (2005)
    99% (2004)
    The state average for Reading was 89% in 2006.

    Math
    98% (2006)
    94% (2005)
    100% (2004)
    100% (2003)
    The state average for Math was 82% in 2006.

    Grade 4

    Reading
    100% (2006)
    96% (2005)
    93% (2004)
    96% (2003)
    The state average for Reading was 82% in 2006.

    Writing
    100% (2006)
    88% (2005)
    93% (2004)
    97% (2003)
    The state average for Writing was 92% in 2006.

    Math
    99% (2006)
    93% (2005)
    98% (2004)
    100% (2003)
    The state average for Math was 83% in 2006.

    Grade 5

    Reading
    98% (2006)
    Data not available for this school (2005)
    99% (2004)
    100% (2003)
    The state average for Reading was 80% in 2006.

    Science
    99% (2006)
    The state average for Science was 75% in 2006.

    Math
    100% (2006)
    Data not available for this school (2005)
    100% (2004)
    95% (2003)
    The state average for Math was 81% in 2006.

    Now, the same measure of scores for Hyer Elementary School in Highland Park: (The Highland Park district puts 5th graders in intermediate school, not elementary school, so there is no data for 5th grade)

    Grade 3

    Reading
    100% (2006)
    100% (2005)
    99% (2004)
    Data not available for this school (2003)
    The state average for Reading was 89% in 2006.

    Math
    99% (2006)
    100% (2005)
    100% (2004)
    100% (2003)
    The state average for Math was 82% in 2006.

    Grade 4

    Reading
    98% (2006)
    100% (2005)
    99% (2004)
    99% (2003)
    The state average for Reading was 82% in 2006.

    Writing
    100% (2006)
    99% (2005)
    100% (2004)
    98% (2003)
    The state average for Writing was 92% in 2006.

    Math
    98% (2006)
    99% (2005)
    100% (2004)
    99% (2003)
    The state average for Math was 83% in 2006.

    If you examine these numbers you’ll see that the scores are nearly identical. The Frisco school is slightly better in some categories, and the Highland Park school is slightly better in some categories. BOTH schools are rated as Exemplary schools, and both schools have scores from 2006 of 98% or higher…. Thus, I believe that the data also disproves your statement that Highland Park is clearly superior. (I am NOT attacking Highland Park. I believe that the data demonstrates that both districts offer an excellent education.)

    The data also does indicate that the average family income and average house price in Highland Park is SUBSTANTIALLY higher than in Frisco. The data that I found at a quick glance is a couple of years old–prices have gone up since then, but a quick Google search shows that the median house price in Highland Park is above $550,000. The median house price in Frisco that same year was $159,000. Again, I know prices both places have gone up, but that illustrates the difference. Why do I mention that point? I believe that it demonstrates that the Frisco school district, working with a smaller tax base, is able to provide a quality of education equal to that in the much wealthier Highland Park area. Why is that important? To me it demonstrates a clear committment by the parents and teacher of Frisco–there is obviously a real effort being put into ensuring that the education is a quality one.

    Finally, Paula, as I think you already know if you’ve read all of the posts here, I agree with you that a parent who makes a complaint against a trip to an art museum is misguided. However, I defy you to prove that no parent in Highland Park would ever do the same thing.

    My point in all of this? Slinging mud does nothing to advance our level of understanding. I am dismayed at the sense of superiority that so many people, both within and outside of Texas, have–a sense of superiority that makes them feel that it is right to criticize, to attack, even to threaten, without even really know what the true story is.

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 12, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

  50. Paula,

    My point exactly–it is critical to do your homework. The data I just presented deals with both issues you raise–the quality of Texas education compared with other states, and the quality of the Frisco schools compared with other Texas schools. You are absolutely correct–the Exemplary rating does not compare Fisher with other schools nationally–only within the state. However, the other data that I cited (again, do a quick google search–doing my homework for about 5 minutes revealed 8 or 10 different rankings of schools on a state by state basis, ALL of which showed Texas in the middle of the pack nationally….) DOES make that national comparison.

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 12, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  51. I need to give this a rest. Those are State rankings where the schools are ranked in the state. Look at where Texas ranks in the nation, from state to state. Also, look at SAT and ACT scores. Rankings may not be the best way to determine accountability, but tell that to the colleges.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  52. Did those national rankings happen to be posted on Govenor Perry’s web site, because the rankings I have seen indicate otherwise. We are unfortunately down pretty low. Lets not play politics.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  53. Paula,

    Aside from your misinformed information. I will repeat my comments earlier.
    THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE ART MUSEUM. The teacher had other issues in which she would like for everyone to believe it is about the museum. Do yo know this woman personally? Please tell me how you could possibly begin to judge off of what you
    hear in the headlines when you do not even know this womans character? This is where conversations get twisted because of misinformed people who thrive off of stories like these just to fuel anger in some direction. Very sad! I will pray for you. The major issue in all of this is people directing their anger at a school that is a place where children are supposed to feel safe, (one that is also getting threats). How would you like it if these threats where aimed at your school where you children attend? That is not a community that anyone would want to live in. With that said, I am saddened by the unstable angry adults posting on this website and ask that they realize what they are fueling. Not only that, if they have children of their own I really feel for those kids.

    Comment by Fisher parent — October 12, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

  54. I too did the google search prior to responding. However, I take my hat off to you for so eloquently posting the response. I would agree on point with everything you wrote. To Paula, I did not choose to compare at a national level as there are too many variables to consider at this point and it is far too broad given your belief that we are somehow substandard. I could not locate those rankings you quote. Regardless, if that parent was offended-I can’t help that. I was there. I was not offended. It is not the issue if you will look deeper. I can’t help it if one parent felt that way. I have no issue with Highland Park, but be careful when speaking in absolutes. None of us can control what others say and do. It is extremely arrogant on your part to make that assumption. If you so choose to live elsewhere- Great! But please do us all a favor and cease commenting on our community. We are proud of our kids, our school, and our community. As Frisco parent so eloquently stated, given the differences, our similarities in results should be applauded not mocked!

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 12, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

  55. My kudos to both Frisco Parent and Fisher Parent. You both deserve it for the well written responses and for your approach. I think I need to take a break from this website as it seems that the public at large is set in their positions. Time passing and our shared prayer for peace to return to our community will hopefully get us through. The truth always comes out. Perhaps we should let time pass and hope that these angry people will have the decency to apologize for their hurtful actions. I know that I for one just pray that the anger directed to our school stops soon!

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 12, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

  56. Paula,

    Thanks for the pointer to look on Governor Perry’s website. (For those unfamiliar, Rick Perry is the current governor of Texas.) I did indeed find a lot of interesting information about the Texas school system on his site.

    First, for those who want more details, the site is: http://www.governor.state.tx.us/priorities/education/facts_figures

    According to that site:

    – In 2002 Texas had the very highest school expenditures of any of the 10 most populous states in the nation.
    – In 2003 Texas had the 3rd highest % of its budget allocated for public education out of any of the 50 states
    – Texas ranks 16th in the nation for teacher salaries

    There are a wide variety of other similar statistics on Governor Perry’s site. I have, unfortunately, been unable to find anything on the site, either by reading all the pages linked to from the main Education page on the site, or by using the “search” button there, to find the statistics you referenced that show Texas in “47th or 50th” place….

    In response to where those rankings were–I previously included the link I quoted, but you can find many other (including several on the website for the US Department of Education) through a Google search.

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 12, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

  57. Yes, I too, believe everything I read, especially on a web site of a Governor up for re-election. But, If a Frisco parent says everything on that site is is the honest truth, it must be true!
    There is no such thing as card stacking or conveniently using statistics to suit your own purpose.

    Comment by Paula — October 13, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

  58. Ranking Texas Support for Education: A Tale of Two PDFs
    Posted on Monday, July 18 @ 21:47:47 MDT by editor

    The Governor’s Office has a pdf file that claims Texas ranks way high up in total spending on schools. Well it ought to rank high up as the second most populous state. Question is, how does Texas rank in terms of spending per pupil? Here the Governor’s preferred source (the NEA) ranks Texas 34th or 35th.

    Here’s the Governor’s PDF

    Here’s the NEA (see page 57)

    And here are the latest census numbers (Released June 30, 2005)

    Also worth mentioning, since 2000 Texas is the second fastest growing state in terms of raw numbers (1.6 million), fourth in terms of percentage (7.9).

    I guess there are different ways to manipulate numbers.

    Comment by Paula — October 13, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

  59. […] Texas Ed: Art Teacher Lawsuit […]

    Pingback by Jazznrhythm´s corner » Auch Telepolis kann “bilden”… — October 14, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

  60. To those of you who have children at Fisher, teach at Fisher, or live in this community, I’d really love to have the chance to talk with you all away from the bitterness that seems to arise on this forum. I am NOT saying that I have no desire to continue this public discussion–I still have the optimistic hope that we can bring some balance into this whole discussion. However, I feel like there are certain things that each time we try to discuss simply lead the conversation into angry outcries at how ignorant we are, or how superior we must feel ourselves to be, or any of the other mud that has been slung at our school and our community.

    If any of you are interested in having a discussion outside of this forum (perhaps even meeting locally sometime, if that seemed to make sense), please email me at frisco_parent@hotmail.com.

    To those of you who remain convinced that my failure to take an absolute stand on this issue (either for or against Ms. McGee) is a sign of my moral and mental inferiority–I remain perfecly happy to continue our discussions, in a civil fashion, here on this board, but I reserve the right to not respond personally if you send emails to the hotmail address. No offense is intended–that just isn’t what I wanted to use that address for…. 🙂

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 14, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  61. Paula,

    I understand the numbers that you cite, and agree that there are a variety of sources that arrive at different conclusions by looking at numbers in different ways.

    You had mentioned earlier that your assertation that Texas was “47th or 50th” in the nation in terms of quality of education was based on information on Governor Perry’s website. I was unable to find anything on his website supporting that, and in your response to my confusion you pointed to data from the NEA saying Texas ranks “34th or 35th” in terms of per pupil spending. I’d respond to that remark in two ways. First of all, I’m not clear on how being “34th or 35th” in the nation for per pupil spending makes the quality of the education in Texas overall be “47th or 50th”, as you earlier asserted. Second, I think that you’ll find that even the NEA and Governor Perry interpret the NEA data in different ways. I see from a speech that Governor Perry gave regarding education, posted on his website, the following comment: “According to the National Education Association, Texas public schools receive $10,400 for every student they educate. That’s not a figure you hear often, but it is the only one that actually reflects how much our schools receive per child. And when you adjust the NEA data for cost of living, Texas is 12th in the nation in terms of the total dollars made available to our schools per student.” (The full text of this speech is at http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/speeches/speech_012904). This data suggests that even that “34th or 35th” place accusation might be questionable.

    Please understand that I’m not trying to say that there is an absolute measure of how schools rank. As I stated earlier, there ARE a lot of ways of measuring the quality of education, and if you look at different surveys and methodologies, you are going to see different results. What I AM trying to say is that I think that it is not accurate to make the assertion, as you did, that the educational system in Texas ranks “47th or 50th”. I believe that it absolutely is possible to obtain a quality education in Texas. Are there bad schools in Texas? Of course! Are there good schools in Texas? Absolutely! Is this true in every other state as well? Yes. All of the data sources I’m able to locate (sources that rely on actual quantifiable studies, rather than opinion pieces relying only on myth and stereotype) seem to indicate that Texas is definitely NOT ranked, by any measure, among the worse states for its public education system. Most surveys also seem to indicate that the quality of education in Texas is improving, not getting worse.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 14, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

  62. I am sorry, I heard that mentioned by one of the candidates in the recent debate for governor. I should have known better to believe it true. I guess you can’t trust anyone these days. My daughter was educated in Texas Public Schools, and earned an academic scholarship, so Texas has been good to us, and I am grateful.

    Comment by Paula — October 14, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

  63. This is so bizarre. This was (I believe) an educated attempt to address the issue in Frisco. I have to state that Paula does have a point. And from being in education at the research level, the statistics cited by the others is limited (to say the least). But I have to say that the position of this poor elementary school was not helped at all by the aggressive, hateful rhetoric that was posted. You can almost understand why this happened to the teacher…if the same mindset exists on the board.

    I do, however, feel sorry for all this focus on the school and principal. Especially, the media effect on the students. I also understand the need to fight back if this teacher was wrongfully accused. The district did sound a bit like a bully. I wish they had gone to court, so we could actually see what happened. I only hope that things have quieted down in Frisco.

    Comment by Educator — November 23, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  64. This is one super duper site

    Comment by mediaid — January 7, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  65. Greetings
    I am from Australia. I chanced upon your discussion re the McGhee/Lawson/Fisher fiasco. I have seen the same type of drama unfold in schools Down Under (in fact I think it is universal). Much hot air has been created and buckets of ill-will have been generated. I doubt whether the real reason for Ms McGhee’s misadventure will ever really be revealed. It would put too many people in a bad light.

    However, one thing I am certain of. If Nancy Lawson could turn the clock back, I am 10000% sure she would have handled matters differently. In a lucid moment, she would just have to say to herself. “Life is too short for all this nonsense. It isn’t worth it”. It would be sheer insanity for anyone to expose themselves (and the school community and the administrators and Ms McGee) to such an immense amount of stress over an issue that could have been handled in a muuuuuuuuuuuuch muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch smarter way. But then again, principals are not necessarily renowned for behaving with political nouse or thinking complex issues through carefully enough to avoid such a catastrophic outcome. And administrators are not such a cluey bunch either to allow this issue to became totally unmanageable.

    I am not surprised that a teacher with 28 years experience would lash out and coopt the media if they felt that they were in a no-win situation (ie potential loss of superannuation and livelihood) and facing dismissal. Why push someone to the brink, allowing no wiggle room, and then react with indignation when they put up one helluva fight? Not so smart, methinks.

    Had Nancy (or the board) been savvy or reflective enough to explore the ramifications and feel the matter out more carefully before initiating action, I am 20000% certain that this fiasco could have been prevented…(unless they were masochists or got a high on self-flagellation).

    In the end, there will be a lot of aggrieved and scarred combatants in this sorry drama. And for what lasting benefit?

    Comment by Larry — April 25, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  66. I think part of the problem with school administrators is that too often they treat their staff like their students and expect no challenge to their authority. I certainly don’t think this is the case everytime, but I could see a principal believing that she was the ulitimate authority no matter what the rules might be and generally students don’t go to the press.

    Comment by texased — April 25, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  67. I’ve read all of this with great interest because I have a “situation” that involves the abuse of authority or what I feel is educational bullying. I am an 18 yr veteran teacher, never got a written evaluation in two years from my principal and since leaving that school (due to a move) cannot find a job because he has “nothing good to say” about me or my work. I have never in the 16 years prior to this had a negative or bad evaluation. All of my decisions have not been pleasing to all people, but neither have those of my principal. Several people erred in this whole McGee/Fisher situation. This should have never gotten this out of hand in the media. The district,out of respect for her years of dedicated service, should make an effort to place this teacher elsewhere and get on with the business of educating children.
    Kathie

    Comment by Kathie — June 26, 2008 @ 1:25 am

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