Rare JCPS contract provision transfers two teachers out of Minor - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rare JCPS contract provision transfers two teachers out of Minor Daniels Academy

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools has used a little-known contract provision twice in the past month to force two teachers out of Minor Daniels Academy into different positions within the district.

The provision -- allowed under Article 16, Section E of the contract between JCPS and the Jefferson County Teachers Association -- states that Superintendent Donna Hargens can for "good cause and in extenuating circumstances" transfer any teacher to a different position "as may be necessary for the efficient operation of the school district."

"The language has been in the contract for a long time, but we rarely use it," said Michael Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS. "Sometimes a placement is just not working out and this gives the superintendent the flexibility to make changes if he or she sees fit."

The two teachers who transferred out of MDA -- Kim D'Annunzio and Allan Lasky-Headrick -- did not request the transfers.

D’Annunzio was transferred on Oct. 23. According to her letter, signed by Hargens, the longtime teacher was transferred to Olmsted Academy South, effective Oct. 26.

"I was shocked, it totally caught me off guard," said D’Annunzio. "I had no idea that I could be involuntarily transferred out of a school in the middle of the year."

Raisor told WDRB News earlier this month that D’Annunzio was not under investigation, she did not have any outstanding discipline issues and she did not request the transfer.

"This teacher was moved because she is math teacher who did not have many students and she was moved to a school where she will be able to serve more students," Raisor said. "At the time, the principal at Minor Daniels Academy stated he no longer needed the position."

However, according to a teacher vacancy list provided to WDRB on Nov. 12, MDA had four vacancies, including a vacancy for a math teacher.

The second teacher transferred out of MDA was Allan Lasky-Headrick on Nov. 20. 

According to the letter given to Lasky-Headrick and signed by Hargens, he was transferred from Minor Daniels "to a location to be determined" and that on Nov. 23 he was to "report to Rick Caple, director of transportation, for temporary interim assignments."

Bonnie Hackbarth, a JCPS spokeswoman, said she could not state why Lasky-Headrick was not assigned to another school.

However, it is a district practice to transfer teachers to non-instructional duties if they are the subject of an investigation.

Hackbarth could neither confirm nor deny whether there is an open investigation involving Lasky-Headrick.

Brent McKim, JCTA president, told WDRB News that the particular provision in question has been in the contract since at least 1994.

"In all of that time, the district has used it very rarely, generally in situations where there were serious concerns with a school and staffing was a significant factor," McKim said. "It has been a pretty high standard, they can just use it to fill vacancies."

Minor Daniels Academy is a combined middle and high school on Bashford Manor Lane that JCPS is using in an effort to reshape "alternative" education in the district. 

The first few months of the 2015-16 year have not been pleasant at Minor Daniels Academy. One teacher has been locked in a closet, another teacher has had her car stolen. Several other teachers and staff members have been assaulted and nearby businesses have been ransacked.

In September, JCTA surveyed teachers at MDA about the working conditions at the school and results showed that 86 percent of the 22 teachers who responded to the survey do not feel safe in the building and that more than half would transfer right now if they could. Ninety percent plan to transfer at the end of the school year.

D’Annunzio tells WDRB that while she would had never requested a transfer to Olmsted South, the move has been a "blessing in disguise."

"The situation at Minor Daniels was not good and I would have ended up leaving the district or retiring," D’Annunzio said. "I was not familiar with Olmsted South, but being placed there is the best thing that has ever happened to me."

"I get to school early every day, I'm with students who want to learn and I'm the robotics coach at the school," she said. "I feel alive again. I have not felt alive in years."

D’Annunzio questions why Hargens doesn't use the contract provision to transfer teachers more often.

But McKim said it's not that simple.

"She can’t do it just to do it," he said. "They have to have a compelling situation in order to transfer them."

Related:

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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