Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tribunal affirms JCPS firing of former Louisville Male High Principal David Mike

This from Toni Konz at WDRB:
David Mike with Attorney Will Walsh
David Mike will not be getting his job back with Jefferson County Public Schools.

Mike lost his job as principal of Louisville Male High School in October following allegations of cheating and improper ACT Compass testing at the school last fall.

The three-person tribunal -- none of whom live in Jefferson County -- heard Mike's appeal of JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens' decision to fire Mike all last week, and announced its decision to uphold his termination on Thursday. After the decision was announced, JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens released the following statement:
"JCPS students matter. Test Scores do not matter if we do not possess the highest standards of integrity. We take no pleasure in the career consequences faced by Mr. Mike. However, the reputation of JCPS was at risk because of actions taken in the administration of ACT Compass testing at Male High School under Mr. Mike's leadership. The tribunal affirmed our decision in this matter."
When making the decision, tribunal members said they got the sense that Mike was trying to gain praise by quickly raising test scores at Male. They recognized that Mike was trying to make "great changes" at the school, but ended up dividing the school and lowering its image.

During his testimony, Mike told the tribunal he did not help students cheat on the ACT Compass test. JCPS officials never accused him of helping students cheat, but stated that as principal of the school, he should have been aware of what was going on.

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 said.

Ultimately, the tribunal members agreed with JCPS, saying that  "descriptions of the loud, chaotic, active atmosphere in Room 108 should have meant that Mike was aware that something was amiss as soon as he opened the door."

"It was not a conducive atmosphere for standardized testing," the report reads. "Logic and common sense should dictate that the two tests should not have been given at the same time."

The tribunal's decision can be appealed to Jefferson Circuit Court. Mike's attorney told WDRB News Thursday morning that he will talk Mike before deciding their next steps.

Mike and two other former Male High staffers -- Debbie Greenberg and Rhonda Branch -- still face a proceeding before the Kentucky Educational Standards Board as a result of the Kentucky Department of Education's investigation into testing allegations.

The board, which controls teacher certifications, acts mostly in secret when handling disciplinary cases, so it's hard to determine where exactly the cases against the three educators stand.

Greenberg retired from the district in June, while a district investigation involving Branch released Dec. 10 found that she failed to ensure a proper testing environment and during the administration of the ACT Compass at Male.

As a result, Branch has been "directed to participate in a minimum of three hours of Administrative Code Training as recommended by KDE. She is also directed to participate in ethics training and adhere to all acceptable and appropriate assessment practices as outlined by the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education."

In addition, JCPS says Branch will be reassigned to another school counseling position as her "superiors feel that it is best for the learning and counseling environment at Louisville Male High School."

Meanwhile, the site-based decision making council at Male High interviewed three district assistant principals for the top job on Tuesday.

Two of the candidates -- Matt Kingsley and Darryl Farmer -- are assistant principals at duPont Manual High School. The third candidate, Jose Alfaro, is an assistant principal at Hawthorne Elementary School.

As of Thursday, the council was planning to conduct second interviews with two of the candidates. That day has not yet been determined.

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