The tribunal hearing the case of former Louisville Male High principal David Mike opened with testimony from a state education official who said she believed Mike knew about irregularities on college-entrance testing but was not 100 percent certain on his involvement.
Mike was hired at Male in 2013 after being principal at Western High since 2008. He was under scrutiny for about a year following allegations that he and others had helped students cheat on a standardized test and then tried to cover it up during an ACT investigation.
JCPS's own investigation found that Mike had failed to ensure the security and integrity of the ACT Compass Test, didn't provide appropriate training to all staff, and didn't correct and report violations.
JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens also said the investigation found that Mike had "inappropriate" interactions with people when investigators came looking into the allegations.
Mike, for his part, has said through his lawyer that the allegations were simply a campaign against him by disgruntled faculty.
Patsy Kenner with the Kentucky Department of Education testified Tuesday before the three-person tribunal hearing Mike's appeal of his firing. She said she was notified by the ACT investigators about the Male situation and conducted her own investigation that Male students were improperly taking practice tests over and over to get higher scores and that some were given assistance from teachers.
Mike's attorney, William Walsh, earlier in the hearing said Mike was "run out of his job" and "subjected to a sustained and unscrupulous attack by members of his staff."
Walsh said the most serious allegations against Mike were made after decisions to cut staffing at the school.
"We will agree that some things happened in lab room 108 last fall which were not appropriate," Walsh said but added that Mike was not actively involved.
"All these were innocent mistakes," Walsh said. "David did not do anything deliberately or intentionally wrong" in helping to administer the ACT tests.
The saga over the alleged test improprieties at Male that culminated in Mike being fired in October for "conduct unbecoming a teacher" will be aired with more than a dozen current and former JCPS employees and students expected to testify.
By state statute, educators who are fired by their school districts can appeal by filing a notice within 10 days. The commissioner of education appoints a three-person tribunal — made of up people outside the area — to conduct an administrative hearing in the county where the school district is located.
Both sides will be able to call witnesses and introduce evidence. After hearing both sides, the tribunal has up to five days to render a decision or defer action. The three-member panel has the power to amend, rescind or uphold the school district's decision to terminate him.
Mike's tribunal, being held in the board room of JCPS headquarters, 3332 Newburg Road, is open to the public at Mike's request. Additional time has been set aside Wednesday and Friday if needed; the lawyer representing JCPS said he anticipates at least one if not both of the extra days being used.
Betty Pace, an administrator from Winchester; Jill Kaiser, a teacher from Lexington; and Beverly Standifer, a layperson from Franfort, make up the tribunal. Susan Durant with the Kentucky attorney general's office will serve as the hearing officer in the case.C-J's Allison Ross @allisonsrossis following the hearing...along with
Both sides have drawn up lists of witnesses that include Hargens, top JCPS administrators, the JCPS investigator who looked into the testing allegations, staff at Male High, staff from the Kentucky Department of Education and former Male High students.
Since 2005, 18 JCPS employees have asked for a tribunal to contest discipline against them, including Mike, according to records from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Of those, 10 were settled, withdrawn or dismissed. Mike's and one other are listed as pending. Of the remaining six, four of the decisions were affirmed by the appeals panel. In one case, the charges were dismissed and the employee was reinstated, and in another case, the discipline was modified.
Even as the tribunal begins, JCPS is moving forward to find a principal to replace Mike at Male High.
Applications have closed for the position. A tentative timeline has interviews for the candidates scheduled Dec. 15, 16 and 17, although the timeline is subject to change, said Shawna Stenton, the school-based decision-making committee specialist with JCPS.
Mike had been making more than $140,000 a year in his job.
WDRB's Toni Konz @tkonz
PREVIOUSLY: Bullying claims against JCPS Principal Mike unsubstantiated
AND: Male principal David Mike reassigned in ACT inquiry
AND: JCPS to fire ex-Male principal
Disclosure: Jill Kaiser is a former teacher of mine at Cassidy.