State tribunal upholds firing of former JCPS teacher Jodi Anderson
A former JCPS teacher fired in September 2016 following a district investigation into adult misconduct involving student injuries will not be getting her job back, a state tribunal ruled on Monday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former Jefferson County Public Schools teacher fired following a district investigation into adult misconduct involving student injuries will not be getting her job back, a state tribunal ruled on Monday.
Jodi Anderson, a teacher at Fairdale Elementary School, was terminated by the district on Sept. 23.
The three-person tribunal -- none of whom live in Jefferson County -- heard Anderson's appeal of JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens' decision to fire her the week of Jan. 9, according to Frank Mellon, an attorney who represents the school district.
According to Anderson's termination letter, she was fired for "conduct unbecoming of a teacher, inefficiency, incompetency and neglect of duty."
The tribunal upheld the district's termination, effective Sept. 23, stating the "evidence is clear that Jodi Anderson has violated the provisions of (law)."
"Based on the totality of the evidence and as noted above, Anderson was insubordinate and exhibited conduct unbecoming of a teacher," it reads. "In addition, she was inefficient, ineffective and neglectful in the performance of her duties. Termination is warranted due to a longstanding pattern of misconduct that apparently began when she was employed as a teacher and was certified in SCM (safe crisis management)."
However, despite its findings, the tribunal also found it "deeply disturbing that through her long tenure at the school, her supervisors did not substantially review her documentation or assess the manner in which she was attempting to motivate her students."
"To this tribunal, it is clear she had created an atmosphere of despair in her classroom, not one of hope," it states. "In this respect, her use of force in making a student comply with a directive to write sentences is very disturbing and very ineffective as a teaching method."
Anderson has been the subject of several previous district investigations involving improper restraint. According to records obtained through an open records request, Anderson had previously worked at Layne Elementary School. She was reassigned to Fairdale Elementary last summer.
Each of those incidents are outlined in her five-page termination letter, which states that earlier this month, "an investigator interviewed two former employees who confirmed a pattern of your misconduct beginning on or about the 2006-2007 school year and continued through the school year 2014-2015."
Her letter states:
- "On or about the 2006-2007 through the 2014-2015 school years, you consistently used physical restraint as a means of student discipline and/or classroom management."
"On or about the 2006-2007 through the 2009-2010 school years, you failed to allow students to eat lunch in the school cafeteria. Instead, you had students eat lunch in the classroom. On multiple occasions, you withheld food from students until they completed certain tasks."
"On or about the 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and/or 2009-2010 school years, you agitated a student, until he cursed and/or spit and then physically restrained him."
"On or about the 2006-2007 through the 2014-2015 school years, on multiple occasions with multiple students, you placed a pencil between the student's index and middle fingers and applied pressure until the student was in tears or tried to get away at which time you used a physical restraint."
"On or about the 2010-2011 school year to the 2014-2015, you stated to a student who had pulled his penis out of his pants on the bus that his actions could lead to his penis being cut off."
The tribunal heard from a total of 12 witnesses from JCPS and four witnesses from Anderson's defense, including Anderson.
"To this tribunal, it is clear she had created an atmosphere of despair in her classroom, not one of hope," the order reads. "In this respect, her use of force in making a student comply with a directive to write sentences is very disturbing and very ineffective as a teaching method."
The tribunal order notes that "one of the tribunal members, while in agreement with the findings of fact and conclusions of law, does not believe termination is appropriate."
That tribunal member, who was not named, believes that "this result could have been avoided if Anderson had been properly observed and trained by her administrators and supervisors earlier in her career."
"Because she had been given (erroneously) the opinion that she was effective in her teaching techniques, it is fundamentally unfair to terminate her," the order reads, adding that the one tribunal member suggested she be reassigned to a regular classroom and "closely supervised."
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