Just two weeks remain before the 2012-13 school year begins. The Greenfield School District’s new teacher orientation is Wednesday and all teachers report back Thursday.
Yet Kerri Jo Patten, formerly a first-grade teacher at , still doesn’t have the curriculum for her new assignment: teaching five subjects at the Middle School level where she has never taught.
What’s more is Patten, the union's president, still isn’t all that thrilled with her new assignment, and after at a School Board meeting in June, she has tried twice to reclaim her previous job, or one similar to it, but has been ignored, she said.
On Monday, the School Board voted 4-2 to approve 11 new hires, including at least one elementary position Patten would have been qualified for. Director of Elementary Education Todd Bugnacki said all the district’s positions have now been filled, except for a part-time opening.
Before the board took action, Patten pleaded with board members and asked them to consider her to fill one of the district’s elementary school vacancies.
“I could easily be switched into one of these elementary positions instead of you approving the hire of someone off the street this evening,” Patten said during the portion of the meeting that allows for citizen’s oral remarks. “Please consider the bigger picture when you are asked to approve the contracts for new employees and how your decision will have a direct impact on current employees as well as the students and the taxpayers.”
Patten said she applied twice, using the statewide WECAN system, for posted elementary positions in the district, including the position she was removed from in June. Some of those positions were filled in the last week, she said. She told the board she never heard back from the district regarding one of her inquiries, and was told by Bugnacki on Sunday the other posting was inadvertently left open.
Ted Kraig, executive director for UniServe, a consortium for the Wisconsin Education Association Council 10, said there are general concerns with the way Greenfield teachers have been , and that Patten’s treatment is “extremely concerning and the most significant situation.”
“I’ve spoken with between 10 and 20 parents who tell me that incoming (Greenfield Education Association) president Kerri Jo Patten is one of the finest teachers in the district,” Kraig said during citizen’s oral remarks Monday. “If you have all-stars, she appears to be one of them.
“It makes no sense to us, and we don’t understand why it would make any sense to the district that is trying to achieve the best possible education and higher standards. … We’re not understanding why it’s in the district’s interest to behave this way.”
Kraig said Patten’s new assignment is one of the most difficult middle school assignments in the district, and that no other middle school teacher is expected to teach five different subjects.
“She’s about to be put in an environment where it’s almost impossible to succeed,” he said. “Maybe she does because she’s amazing, but there’s a very good chance this is not going to be in the interest of the kids that she’s teaching.”
Board members Russ Spahn and Rick Moze voted against the hires.
“I have nothing against any of these individuals. I don’t know them,” Spahn said. “But based on the many phone calls I have taken and some of the information provided in the citizen remarks, I’m going to vote against these as a whole because I have a concern with some of the statements that have been made tonight.”
No administrators responded to the comments made by Kraig or Patten, nor did they address Spahn and Moze’s vote against the new contracts.