Hundreds of DISD Teachers Join Principals on Firing Line

School board approves plan to terminate hundreds of teachers, two principals

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Friday, May 24, 2013  |  Updated 7:02 PM CDT
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The teacher firings received little attention at Thursday night's school board meeting, where a crowd of supporters spoke for and against Superintendent Mike Miles' plan to fire two high school principals.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

The teacher firings received little attention at Thursday night's school board meeting, where a crowd of supporters spoke for and against Superintendent Mike Miles' plan to fire two high school principals.

Hundreds of Dallas Independent School District teachers will be fired along with the two principals.

The teacher firings received little attention at Thursday night's school board meeting, where a crowd of supporters spoke for and against Superintendent Mike Miles' plan to fire two high school principals.

Madison High School Principal Marian Willard and Roosevelt High Principal Leicha Shaver were the only two on a principal "nonrenewal" list. Other principals may have accepted retirement or transfers to avoid termination.

Miles has said about 50 of the district's 223 campuses will have new principals next school year.

"Principals' heads are on chopping block, so what happens?" said Angela Davis, leader of the National Education Association's Dallas chapter. "It trickles down to classroom teachers."

Davis said Miles has pressured principals to put 10 percent of the staff on "professional growth" plans, even if the workers had received good reviews in the past.

"It looks like they're getting rid of the veteran teachers," she said. "If you've been teaching over a certain amount of time, those are the ones that are being targeted."

Davis on May 8 received a list of 444 teachers to be fired, but district officials said the number is smaller now because many have transferred or found other jobs.

All of the teachers at Pearl C. Anderson Middle Learning Center must find new jobs. The school off Second Avenue near Hatcher is closing at the end of the school year.

Anderson teacher Nethrial Jordan spoke to the school board Thursday night.

"We are not a low-performing school," she said. "We are an academically gifted set of teachers."

Jordan said she has been teaching for 39 years but was asked to sign a nonrenewal form at Anderson to end her career.

"I have higher degrees," she said. "I could work anywhere, but I chose to stay in South Dallas to support those students."

Davis said the NEA is following an appeal process for every one of its members that were terminated.

She said the changes are not improving education.

"You're putting more pressure on the teachers. You're putting more pressure on the principals, and it's showing," she said. "The morale in the district is at an all-time low."

DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said the school board voted to close Anderson in January. Since then, there have been several efforts to help the teachers find new positions, he said.

Dahlander said Anderson teachers were provided with red wrist bands at an April job fair to give them an hour early admission for preferential treatment before other applicants.

A June job fair is also scheduled at which teachers can apply for other positions.

Miles was hired last year to make changes and improve student achievement.

The school board voted 7-2 Thursday night to accept his termination recommendations for principals and teachers.

"[There is] no question that we need to do everything that we can do to graduate college and career-ready students," Miles said.

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