Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

October 21, 2006

If it’s all McGee’s fault, why are they settling?

So it looks like we’ll never know after all. I still think that the principal’s handling of this situation warrants a “growth plan”equal to that of McGee’s. Lawson had already collected her data/evaluation before the museum trip but they weren’t revealed to McGee until after the trip. That, in of itself, is no big deal.

Star Community Newspapers:

The April 18 appraisal included a “below expectations” mark on an item titled “policies, procedures and legal requirements.” In a related area of the form titled “Areas to Address,” it states “Appropriate Art substitute plans, specific lesson plans updated weekly. Appropriate monitoring during duty assignments.”While those marks and comments are dated April 18, another document indicates McGee appears to have become aware of her review only after the trip.

Or at least the paperwork part of it anyway.

Star Community Newspapers:

In a May 11 memorandum, McGee states that the “evaluation was conducted April 18.” However, McGee states in the memo that a copy of the report did not reach her until April 28. That was two days after the field trip, according to documents, and one day after McGee was called into principal Nancy Lawson’s office to address the nudity complaint. McGee contends that she was “verbally admonished” by the principal at the meeting.

Even if McGee received it sooner, at this point there is no reason for me to have ever heard of Sydney McGee.

Star Community Newspapers:

On May 4, McGee met with Gonzales and Lawson for the teacher’s yearly “summative appraisal conference,” in which the appraiser discusses the appraisal document with the teacher, according to documents. McGee was informed at this meeting that the administration wanted to place her on a “growth plan” to address areas of concern.McGee has said she viewed the growth plan as a preliminary step to eventual non-renewal of her contract.

Gosh, you think? Anyone who has worked with human resources knows that if you want to fire someone and you want to do it right, you have to some version of a growth plan to allow the person a chance to improve.

Star Community Newspapers:

In her May 11 memorandum, McGee challenged the “below expectations” mark, saying “no negative written documentation was given to me prior with ‘areas to address,’ ” which she said is required by the state administrative code. She also disagreed with the substance of the mark.McGee said she would have expected to see documentation throughout the year had she been doing anything wrong in the classroom.

In fact, it’s not just people who deal with human resources but anyone who understands how evaluations are supposed to work as apparently McGee did.

Star Community Newspapers:

The mark was upgraded to “proficient,” and the growth plan nixed, documents indicate. On May 17, McGee and Gonzales signed a revised appraisal document, with the “below expectations” mark upgraded to “proficient.”Also on May 17, Lawson and McGee met again to discuss her performance, documents indicate. Lawson produced a memorandum May 18 that summarized the discussion.

That memorandum included issues surrounding the museum field trip, including the nudity complaint, as one of five areas of concern about McGee’s performance. It also lays out a list of improvement measures that Lawson expected McGee to meet.

So here is the first sign that Lawson failed to administer her responsibilities properly. Obviously, she must have thought McGee had a point since she changed the evaluation and dumped the growth plan. Apparently, working “verbally” and “informally” to deal with issues as Frisco ISD has repeatedly said was the case, doesn’t meet state administrative code. Since she can’t have a growth plan because she has failed to documented the situation properly, what does Lawson do next? She creates a memo that lists areas for improvement and the infamous parent remark regarding nude statues. And I hear the name McGee and Frisco ISD.

In the meantime, McGee manages to convince the principal of another Frisco ISD school to hire her. The Frisco superintendent, Reedy blocks the transfer so as not to undermine a principal’s authority to discipline an employee. ( I thought this was just about helping a teacher improve her teaching?) We all know what happens next. McGee goes to the press with parent’s complaint.

Why doesn’t anyone think that Lawson and Reedy screwed up as well? If McGee’s job is to have complete lesson plans, isn’t it Lawson’s responsibility to have complete documentation that can stand up to the scrutiny of legal requirements? If it’s McGee’s job to project a professional appearance to maintain standards isn’t it Lawson’s job to appropriately select examples and issues that illustrate an employee’s weakness rather than a parent’s small mindedness? Come on! Everyone is telling me that the nude statue had nothing to do with the situation. Then why did Lawson bother to include it, especially if she had other legitimate concerns? It was a mistake for her to include it.

Then there’s superintendent Reedy. He’s all for supporting Lawson’s authority even though she has failed to administer it properly. I guess he didn’t think it was a big deal that Lawson had to retract her “below expectations” evaluation because, hey, McGee’s just an art teacher and everyone thinks she is a pain to work with anyway? (I would hate to be the social studies teacher that teaches flag burning is a first amendment right or an English teacher discussing race relations in Huckleberry Finn and not be on the good side of the principal.)

Did he try to find out why Lawson’s evaluations differed from her predecessor’s? Did he think that McGee should be concerned about a parent complaining about nude art? (BTW, for all his protests to the contrary, his answer has been a very subtle, yet still very public “yes.”) And finally, he’s settling because he screwed up and recommended “not renewing McGee’s contract” before having the appropriate paperwork. Think about it. The memo wasn’t an actual growth plan. There was no growth plan since Lawson screwed up. To start non-renewal, he would have had to have the same paperwork Lawson was missing. Since it seems unlikely that they were able to come up with a legitimate workplan based on her summer performance, he plowed ahead anyway, contributing to the grounds for a lawsuit.

Will someone tell me who’s evaluating Lawson and Reedy? Where are their growth plans?

Someone has pointed out that taken to extremes that you could use the analogy of a murderer getting off because someone didn’t read him his rights. Yeah, okay. So the police officer not only didn’t read the rights, admits that she didn’t read the rights, presents as a witness someone who swears the person did it because everyone of his “racial epitaph of your choice” does it, and the chief of police says none of this matters because the guy is a murderer. All the officer had to do was to do her job correctly and read the suspect her rights. Because she didn’t do her job, the murderer gets off.

We are a society of rules and laws that apply to everyone, not just the ones we like. And if society’s basic institution for instilling these rights is unable to adequately apply them itself, then there is a problem and blaming it on the press or McGee isn’t going to make it go away.

And I know the answer to the question of the post’s title, for the children’s sake, right? I just wonder if the adults involved have learned anything from this.

8 Comments »

  1. Who are you texased and why do you keep going at it? Is it because you had no replies to your last entry? I just read in a local forum something very interesting. The reason McGee received rave reviews in her initial years at Fisher was because she was already friends with the principal that hired her. That principal no longer works in the district. That would explain her wonderful reviews before Lawson came along. To answer if the adults have learned anything from this as you have asked. For one to ask when interviewing and intitally hiring teachers, to be sure to ask if they have ever been asked to leave another district prior. And two, I guess for a principal to make sure they document anything and eveything in case a teacher becomes substandard or becomes disgruntled down the road and to just write down everything out of paranoia.

    Another intesting article for texased to read:

    http://www.courier-gazette.com/articles/2006/10/07/mckinney_courier-gazette/news/newsa2.txt

    http://www.courier-gazette.com/articles/2006/10/07/mckinney_courier-gazette/news/newsa2.txt

    Comment by Angel — October 21, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  2. After re-reading your post, I have to quote your “gosh, ya think” line. Well, gosh ya think that maybe if McGee had a growth plan and still sent an email to Lawson stating that she looked forward to next year that maybe the supposed growth plan and discussions between the two was not heading towards a firing at all. McGee paved her own path on the eventual demise of her employment at FISD. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, I’m sure Ms.Lawson wished she hadn’t included the measley one paragraph field trip incident included in the five PAGE document. McGee was never near firing and her only protest crying “nude art scandal” was due to her not being transfered to another school. Who wants to pass a problem around? If you really want to play the blame game then I blame McKinney ISD for passing the problem onto FISD.

    Comment by Angel — October 21, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

    • could there have been personal issue Ms.Lawson had that the teacher was aware of?

      Comment by mike mcgee — September 1, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  3. and Lawson is the principal… How many, like Lawson, are there NATIONWIDE???? pity

    Comment by mO — October 28, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  4. Well, there is one at Vines Highschool, and she just got promoted to area superintendent. There are tons around the world, and school districts are full of folks over educated and unable to make things work with teachers.

    Comment by Jackson — April 14, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  5. This is a typical example of management incompetence!!! Teachers, just like all other government employees, are protected under the 14th Amendment, Yes, the Bill of Rights. Management, particulalry in schools, tend to be nothing more than politicians with master’s degrees. They aften hold their fingers in the wind and do the bidding of the school boards, who generally have little education and are elected. Management typically gets a hard-on for a particular employee and they pull crap like this. NOw, had McGee truly been a discipline problem or an incompetent teacher, then management should have done progressive discipline reports which would have substantiated their claims. In this case, they tried to build the case after the incident. This costs taxpayers big money and the teachers always win becasue managemet didn’t follow the rules. So, I submit that it is THEY, who should be fired.

    Comment by DCT — April 30, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  6. what’s happened with mrs McGee
    is she working in art?
    is she still teaching? the settlement was it three months pay????
    all questions I’d love answered
    feel sorry for the teacher
    Students missed her big time??? I heard.

    Comment by mrs marr — October 4, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

    • retired and subbing

      Comment by mike mcgee — September 1, 2010 @ 5:29 pm


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