How the district tried to suspend me or maybe you should be part of the union too. (rough draft)

First let me say I have been critical of the union when I
felt they deserved it. I have long said I think DTU has done as good as job as
anybody with pay and benefits but I thought we have missed the boat with being accommodating
to the district and it hasn’t done enough to protect rank and file teachers
from poor working conditions and bullies masquerading as administrators. All
that being said they really came through for me.
Sometime in late February I was called into the office of professional
practices to discuss an investigation. Initially they wouldn’t even tell me if
I was the subject of the investigation or not so I refused saying, no thanks. I
was then told it was the expectation that I cooperate. I contacted the union
and they agreed to send one of their lawyers with me.
Up until a day or two before the meeting I was convinced it
had something to do with school board member Scott Shine calling me a liar in a
state wide publication. http://floridapolitics.com/archives/201991-duval-school-board-tensions-simmer-charter-fight-escalates
I guess him doing so is okay. It turns out however it was
about a supposed Facebook exchange that somebody reported.
I wracked my brain and remembered commenting on a news site
and somebody coming back calling me an idiot or something to that effect and
whether I was particularly outraged or maybe just bored we had an exchange that
could only make 12 year old boys proud. At one point he said, Ha I am going to
cut and paste this and send it to the district to get you in trouble to which I
replied go for it, thinking who does stuff like that and if they did nothing I
said warranted any kind of punishment and would be summarily dismissed. Boy was
I wrong.
Mind you I had no idea what the exchange was about, what was
said, who it was with or when it happened. Basically I remembered a spirited exchange, them saying, I am going to get you in trouble and me saying, go for it.
So when I was called in I was shown a cut and pasted Facebook
exchange. I repeated what I wrote above to the investigator, told them I didn’t
think I said anything like what was sitting in front of me and asked them to
show it to me on-line so I could see what they were talking about. They said
they couldn’t. Friends I have to say I immediately lost interest right there
and thought the matter was over as did the lawyer. So you can’t show it to me I
asked? No the investigator responded. Did any of my parents, colleagues or students
complain? No again said the investigator. What a complete waste of time I
thought.
That was until late March when the superintendent recommended
a five day suspension for me, saying I had two ethics violation. The lawyer and
I were both stunned. So I said lets fight it, this has nothing to do with
evidence or facts, this is the super and admin taking an opportunity to punish
a teacher that they don’t care for.
The lawyer agreed and was quite confident that it would be
overturned by an appeals judge but the nature of the process is such that you
take the suspension and later when it is overturned you are reimbursed.
It was at this point I learned who had leveled the charges against
me and please forgive me while I put on my Mel Gibson Conspiracy Theory hat.
The person’s name is Rick Hoefield and his Facebook page would make your cray
cray uncle Jimmy blush. https://www.facebook.com/rick.hoening.7?fref=ts
It is full of borderline misogynistic, homophobic, and
racist memes. Furthermore he hadn’t posted anything for years on his page until
a day or two before our interaction and hasn’t posted anything since my
suspension was handed down. Those are some big coincidences and to be honest I
wouldn’t be surprised if he was Scott Shine’s squash partner.  Where I have no evidence of that I have seen
other comments he made where he attacks and calls people names. This was the districts
star witness and a cut and paste face book exchange was the evidence and together
were what the district was going to use to suspend me.  
When I discussed what was going on with friends I would use
the word, surreal. Let me segue now.
Also some of you might be aware at this time a citizen spoke
at a school board meeting bout the superintendent having an affair and shipping
his mistress and a love child off.
This is a pretty persistent rumor that I have heard over and
over again from many different sources but never found it to have enough merit to comment on. Now however I wondered if the school board was going to punish the superintendent
for this accusation not that I think he should be punished but because the
level of proof was about the same level that was going to get me a five day
suspension. In short, because somebody said so.  
The district came dangerously close to French Revolution
standards of evidence for teachers where a mere accusation was enough for somebody to be
punished but again only for teachers.
Dangerously close until the union told the district, we’re going to fight this
one and the district will in all likelihood lose and a few days later the district came back and
said, okay we’ll rescind the suspension and just put a letter in my file.
I am not happy about the letter but I am happy that the
district didn’t lower the bar to the point where anything approaching proof
wasn’t need in order to punish teachers. I am also thankful that the union was there for me.
Finally when I started the blog some years back, I wanted it to be a
place where people, mostly teachers and parents could come together and discuss
problems and find solutions. Where I have had dozens and dozens of contributors
it hasn’t worked out quite that way and I have done the lion’s share of posting
but I never wanted the story to be about me.
The sad truth friends is I just don’t see things getting
better in fact I see them getting worse as super after super and board member
after board member has come and gone and the problems get worse and worse. I think because of that I have become jaded and a bit snarky which probably isn’t a good combination when you
write about people who I honestly believe some may be decent but who are either in
over their heads, thin skinned and are there to serve only their hubris.  I recognize that the blog has become a little
more biting than it needs to be and that’s on me and that’s something I will work on.

I hope at the same time the district realizes that they can’t
just push people around and there is a right and wrong way of doing things,
what they tried to do to me falls into the plain wrong camp. 
We me included can and should be doing better. 

10 Replies to “How the district tried to suspend me or maybe you should be part of the union too. (rough draft)”

  1. I'm happy for you, but I NEVER get support from the union. They bend over backwards to agree with administration.

  2. This is an intimidation tactic on the part of the district to silence you. Don't fall for it. Continue printing the truth. Don't let them push you around. They are afraid of you.

  3. Wright given 30-day suspension at tonight's SB mtg. What happened to progressive discipline? Oh, wait, that would be for DTU to ask.

  4. Maybe DTU came through for you because you're so visible and you would have had a lot to say about DTU if they didn't. They're not stupid, just lazy and uncaring.

  5. It's easy to criticize the union when you are sitting on the sidelines watching. You really need to be involved to find out how many people they save, good teachers who have disagreed with someone or who made a minor misstep. DTU is there for a reason, and they do a great job. Just compare them to every other teacher union in the State, including FEA.

  6. I think that the fact that everyone is signing their name Anonymous in response to your blog post talks volumes about their faith in our district, or their fear of it.

  7. Keep fighting the good fight, and hang in there! Glad the DTU was there for you, but honestly, that's there job. That is why you pay dues. It is these instances where they prove to members and non-members why they are more than a dues collecting machine. Keep the posts coming, keep the snark level high, report the truth, and the school board and admin will be kept in check. I think it is reprehensible that they took the side of a racist hit man on facebook.

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