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Teachers association files grievances with school board over evaluations

Last week, the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers Association filed three formal grievances with the Gadsden County School Board regarding evaluations of teachers at James A. Shanks Middle School in Quincy.

Association President Ronte Harris said the association was planning to file an additional 10-15 grievances this week, concerning teachers at Shanks and other district schools. The grievances all have to do with either teachers who received letters asking them not to return to their schools or those who received ratings of “effective” instead of “highly effective.”

These ratings now provide Florida teachers with financial incentives. For the past two years the State Legislature has offered bonuses for teachers rated both highly effective ($1,200) and effective ($800).

“Our teachers are not afraid of being evaluated,” association president Harris said. “We want to be observed, then given feedback by qualified administrators following the proper procedures. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Gadsden County.”

“That’s why we plan on grieving these faulty evaluation processes,” Harris continued. “We are waiting to see all the score sheets for how these principals are coming up with their evaluations. We don’t believe the paperwork to back up these ratings will be there.”

At the May 22 School Board meeting, Gadsden County School Superintendent Roger Milton, when addressing teacher evaluations, said he appreciated the work all teachers are doing in the schools.

“By the survey the teachers’ association presented themselves at this meeting, it seems clear that only a small percentage of teachers are dissatisfied with their evaluations,” Milton said. “Still, we all have to work together to lower this number. We had workshops at the beginning of the school year with all the administrators to go over proper evaluations and will do that again on July 16.”

“We now have a strategic plan that states our mission is to work hand-in-hand to create success for all of our stakeholders, including the teachers’ association,” Milton continued.

Harris said he will push the the School Board to resolve these grievances quickly, but expects it could take up to three months to reach a resolution.

“If a principal doesn’t change their rating, then it will go to a district director of education for that age group; then to the Superintendent; until finally, if necessary, an arbitration hearing with the School Board if things are still unresolved,” Harris said.

By Randall Lieberman