Parents furious over teacher evaluation policy

Parents furious over teacher evaluation policy
May 22 22:05 2017 Print This Article

The Charleston County School Board meeting had an overflow crowd Monday night. The crowd consisted of mainly parents and teachers concerned about the school district’s evaluation policy. Some of the 31 people speaking during the meeting called for the removal of Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait.

Prior to the public comment portion of the meeting, Postlewait introduced an outline for a strategic plan involving quarterly goals and feedback. She admitted that the school district needs to learn how to use the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) data that was used in April to evaluate teachers in the district. There was an outcry when former teachers of the year and mentors for first-year teachers were placed on improvement plans, which can lead to firing. Principals had no input into which teachers were placed on improvement plans.

Postlewait addressed the outcry by stating there had been honest miscommunication between staff with principals and principals with teachers. The superintended was shouted down by parents and teachers in the crowd who were not satisfied with that statement.  School board member Chris Staubes responded by stating, “Our teachers don’t feel feel like their voices are being heard.”  He filed a motion to obtain teacher feedback on the evaluation process, which has been referred to a committee.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, numerous speakers opposed the evaluation process and its lack of transparency. One teacher spoke of the Progressive Discipline Plan implemented by Postlewait at the beginning of the school year. She stated it has crippled schools with students who commit violent offenses, such as assault and having weapons at school and quickly returning them to the classroom. There were also suggestions made about how to improve standardized testing and having teachers meet regularly with the Superintendent to provide input on school governance.

Mount Pleasant Constituent District 2 Chair Sarah Johnson stated that  principal hires and transfers should have input from the local communities and be approved by a vote of the county school board.  She noted that the sudden decision to transfer James B. Edwards Elementary School Principal Jake Rambo without local or school board input threw the school into chaos.  She said that stability and continuity were essential to a school’s effectiveness.  Similar comments were made by West Ashley High School parent Carlette Geddis in support of Principal Lee Runyon.  She said, “We have great things happening at West Ashley High School and he (Runyon) is needed here!”