[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #1

I’ve been paying little attention to the LCSD so far in 2009 – I’ve been pretty busy with work – but this last week or two has really grabbed my attention again.  This is the first post of a few on things that are happening related to the LCSD.

I have heard a rumor this week regarding grading incidents.  I perceive the rumor as the reason Rick Alexander wrote to the rest of the board and the Superintendent, goes something like this (and bear in mind THIS IS AN UNCONFIRMED RUMOR):

There is a pending complaint against the HS administration alleging that the administration changed three grades in a single class for three students over the objection of the teacher.  I have also heard that the way the teacher assigned the grades was legal but possibly not very fair, and possibly done in bad faith – i.e. partially because the administration asked the teacher not to.

I believe that the pending complaint in question is probably actually a grievance filed by the LEA on the grounds that an administrator changing a grade is a violation of the CBA (PDF).  Furthermore, as I understand the following language, it seems like the grievance has merit:

Teachers will have the freedom to determine student grades. Grades will not be changed without the consent of the teacher unless criteria for the grade is not consistent with building policy or is not consistent with Oregon Administrative Rules, state and/or federal law, including I.D.E.A. or Section 504.

That is from the current CBA for licensed staff.  The only caveat I have here is the one that LT raises (also here) – under the current language, is it possible for a teacher to behave extremely poorly when it comes to grading and be protected?  If that is indeed the case (as may or may not have happened here), then it might be worth looking at how the language should be changed.  However, I have a strong bias towards the right of an instructor (at any level) to be the final arbiter of grades, so I think any proposed change should be looked at with an eye towards keeping that authority in place.  Hypothetically, I would support a review process for grade complaints that involved <b>other teachers</b> reviewing the grading decision.  I don’t know if I would support a process that allowed administrators to change grades against the will of teachers.  Yes, I realize that this leaves a very small door open for teacher abuse of grades (or collective abuse, even), but I think I’m OK with that because in the case that it happens, there are almost certainly other problems that would lead to such unprofessional behavior.

So that’s my take on this complaint and incident.  I will address Rick Alexander’s letters to the board – which are presumably on the same topic – in another post.

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