MEEKER I Dr. Robert Dorsett, a longtime Meeker High School teacher, spoke up during the call to the public at the June 2 Meeker Board of Education (BOE) meeting, asking about the Meeker School District English as a Second Language (ESL) para-professional having been told, the last full day of school, that her position was terminated and that she would no longer be needed.
Dorsett was acting as a concerned citizen since he himself has been told by Superintendent Mark Meyer that his services as a teacher will no longer be needed either in the high school or through Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC).
Dorsett cited board support staff policy indicating that only the BOE can establish support staff positions and only the board can abolish such positions.
The ESL teacher had been told by Meyer that her position had been terminated. Support staff employees, under the BOE policy Dorsett cited, clearly serve as “at will” employees at the pleasure of the BOE, but that the decision to terminate a position is up to the board alone, not the superintendent.
One of the policies cited by Dorsett also states that the BOE delegates to the superintendent the authority to dismiss classified (support) personnel and that all such dismissals shall be reported to the BOE at their next regular meeting. No such report was made.
Dorsett noted that the BOE’s policy requires the district to have a job description setting forth the necessary qualifications, a detailed list of performance responsibilities and any required physical capability requirements for any support staff.
That policy, by implication, he said, would require that an employee be given specific reasons for any dismissal in reference to the performance responsibilities.
Dorsett suggested that it’s also standard practice, “except perhaps in this district, to notify the employee if they are not performing their responsibilities and to assist the employee with remediation to help them fulfill their job duties.
“Time and again, this administration has sidestepped policy, ignored basic principles of management, and treated decent and honest people with callous disregard,” he said.
Dorsett further told the BOE that this ESL staffer, in his experience, has provided an enormous service to our students and (has been) a critical contact between the schools and a large (Spanish-speaking) segment of our community.”
He requested that this dismissal, or the termination of her position, be reviewed.
As a result of Dorsett’s concern, BOE President Bill deVergie committed to working with Meyer, reviewing the situation and policy, and adding an executive session for this purpose to the next BOE meeting.
Dorsett, in his public comment, also asked about a grant amount Bob Amick, Stacy Hudelson and Laurie Zellers, as members of the High School (Building) Accountability Committee, cited in their May 17, 2014, nine page document entitled “Retaining Outstanding Educators and Administrators” for the district. The document stated that its focus was the need to better appreciate and understand the “vast accomplishments and contributions of Principal [Dr. Kim] Ibach since she was appointed as principal of Meeker High School during the summer of 2013.”
The document stated, “Ibach obtained more than $130,000 in grants for various educational and academic improvement programs in the 2013-2014 academic year.”
Dorsett said he had asked, on at least two occasions last winter, for the BOE to account for these grant funds. District Finance Director Janelle Urista has told the Herald Times that she has no record of those funds in the district’s accounting.
Dorsett indicated that he would appreciate the BOE looking at this. Board member Tom Allen agreed, saying he, too, would like to know. Meyer committed to looking into this question and reporting to the BOE, putting the issue on the agenda for June 16.
According to high school teachers, Principal Ibach has been suggesting that the school add new classes to the curriculum, namely drama and leadership. The drama request appears to have come from the active efforts of Bob Amick and Gary Zellers in developing and restoring drama and performing arts for students. The leadership topic stems from Ibach’s idea that student government participation would be enhanced if the council had a dedicated daily class for members to meet and pursue improvement in leadership.
Ibach asked MHS counselor Amy Chinn to write a letter to the BOE requesting these add-on classes for 2015-2016. The brief letter was delivered to the board on June 2 under their agenda item “New MHS Class Offerings.”
Meyer indicated the proper process had been followed to allow the addition of these classes.
Board member Mindy Burke led off the ensuing discussion, however, saying she had met with (various) teachers who do not believe there is truly a working process in place to recommend class add-ons. She said teachers have been told “someone” within the current staff would teach the new classes.
Burke, joined by Allen, said reinstating a district curriculum plan with teacher input was an imperative priority.
Allen said he did not feel current staff had time to sufficiently prepare for and teach these classes, especially in the face of having cut more-important classes already. Until these more important classes could be offered again, he couldn’t support new classes.
Meyer ended up not recommending the new class offerings and the BOE agreed.
On a related matter, Meyer reported on his meetings with CNCC Meeker Coordinator Iris Franklin, Chinn and Ibach, noting that the high school will be able to offer the same concurrent enrollment courses in conjunction with CNCC that have been offered in the past, including those that will be taught by the new science and math teachers, Michelle Selle and Larissa Merrell.
Meyer also indicated that the district is advertising for two elementary school teachers and an athletic director. The athletic director applications were due June 2, and eight individuals applied. Interviews are taking place this week.
Meyer said he has asked incoming MHS Principal Kelly Boren and incoming Superintendent Chris Selle to be involved in the athletic director’s hire.
Policy re-writes/updates regarding professional staff schedules, first-aid training, banking sick leave, staff assignments and transfers, and evaluation of licensed personnel were passed by the BOE on second reading. They will go to third reading at the June 16 meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m.