The fate of fired Male High School Principal David Mike is now up to a tribunal after three days of testimony.
The hearing wrapped up at around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Attorneys on each side left tribunal members with two different accounts of David Mike's involvement in the cheating scandal.
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For the first time, Mike got to tell his side of the story as he fought to get his job back.
“I would never ever, ever, ever lie to my superior or my boss ever. And I guarantee that it's documented that I've never done anything like that and would never,” Mike said in his testimony.
The former principal told members of the tribunal he's been honest throughout this investigation.
Mike was fired in October following allegations of cheating and improper ACT testing at the school last fall.
In closing arguments, Mike's attorney says he wasn't aware of what was going on.
“David Mike did not know that those two tests were being administered simultaneously,” attorney Will Walsh said. “No one complained to him about that. He did not know there was noise and confusion. I think that's another part of failure to ensure. He did not know. There's no evidence of that.”
JCPS attorney Byron Leet didn't just say Mike knew, he also claimed Mike tried to cover it up.
“It's not credible that Mr. Mike did not know,” Leet countered. “That he did not allow or encourage that corrupt testing environment to go on.”
After weighing all of the evidence and testimony, the tribunal will determine whether Mike's firing will be upheld.
“How many people do you need to disbelieve in order to believe Mr. Mike's version? You've got to disbelieve quite a few,” Leet added. “I think the evidence is overwhelming that there was witness coaching going on.”
Walsh countered, “He was given no opportunity to respond and they made a decision without ever talking to him and looking him in the eye, and determining whether he's a good guy or bad guy…and they fired him.”
Mike lost his job as principal of Male High School after JCPS launched an investigation into allegations of improprieties during ACT testing at Male in the fall of 2013.
JCPS rested its case Wednesday.
The defense called four witnesses, including two Male High teachers and a former JCPS Human Resources Director.
The first witness called by Mike's attorney, Will Walsh, was Stacey Schoen, a social studies teacher at Male. Schoen says she was hired by former Male principal Ted Boehm; she remained on staff after Mike was hired last year.
When Walsh asked Schoen to describe Mike she called him a "solid, authoritarian" type of person, who was always out in the hallways. Schoen testified that after Mike overstaffed teachers in the spring of 2014, the school became very divided. She says it's still divided.
Walsh addressed what he called social media attacks against Mike, and Schoen said there was an organized campaign against him.
During her testimony, Schoen said there were posters that students had placed around the school that were also being sold on CraigsList. She said one CraigsList post referenced Mike's ethnicity.
Schoen also said she attended a Site Based Decision Meeting in May where she "observed some very angry individuals." She said lots of students and parents attended the meeting, and people were shouting.
"I was disgusted by what I saw," she said. "It was very chaotic."
The next witness was Matt Waldrop, who teaches Social Studies at Male. Waldrop said the attacks against Mike began after the overstaffing at the school.
He also described the SBDM meeting as all-out chaos.
After Waldrop was excused, Bill Eckels, the former human resources director at JCPS, took the stand.
Eckels said Mike was suspended for one day in 2006 regarding a retaliation complaint when he worked for Kennedy Middle School. He also said he did not agree with the decision to suspend Mike.
Mike was called to testify after Eckels was excused.Previous:
Mike testified that his downfall as an administrator is his honesty. He admitted that practice software was used for the ACT testing in the fall of 2013. He says ACT gave him a list of things to do after their investigation, including collecting all materials used during the ACT test. He says he had already done most of what was asked before receiving the requests.
Mike said he complied with all requests by February 28, 2014. He says investigators told him no further action would be taken after he complied with their requests.
After Friday's proceedings, the tribunal will have five days to render a decision.
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This from the Courier-Journal:
Appealing his firing in the wake of high-profile testing violations, former Male High School Principal David Mike wrapped up his case on Friday before a state tribunal — arguing that he wasn't guilty of trying to cheat on ACT tests and did not try to cover it up during investigations.
Instead, he argued, his mistaken belief that ACT Compass test software could be used as a practice test became magnified amid a torrent of complaints fueled by a bitter school campaign to oust him, which itself stemmed from his "overstaffing" — or letting go of a number of teachers and counselors — in 2014.
"I think it's unfair," said Mike, who took the stand on the third day of the administrative hearing at Jefferson County Public School headquarters, where he argued that state, district and ACT investigators didn't do enough to get his side of the story and that his termination was unwarranted.
Former Male High School Principal David Mike
But Byron Leet, an attorney for JCPS, who sat next to Superintendent Donna Hargens during long hours of testimony, defended Mike's termination for "conduct unbecoming a teacher," pointing out that allegations of testing violations surfaced months before the overstaffing controversy.
"Overstaffing is not what this case is about," Leet said, calling it a "smokescreen."
"It's just not credible that Mr. Mike didn't know what was going on in that lab," he said, calling the violations intentional. "This is not some oversight."
Mike, hired at top-performing Male High in 2013, was fired in October after a JCPS investigation found he 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 testing violations.
Hargens has said the investigation found that Mike had "inappropriate" interactions with people during investigations into the incidents, which Mike denied Friday...
Ex-Male principal David Mike faces witnesses in tribunal hearing appeal on his firing