ACLU wants to hear about retaliation for speaking out

Posted: March 01, 2011

While Hope Moffett prepares for Day 6 in the Philadelphia School District's "teacher jail," the ACLU said yesterday that it's looking into allegations that other teachers have faced punishment for speaking out.

Harold Jordan, a community organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the organization had received a number of complaints from teachers about alleged retaliation against them for speaking out on the restructuring of city schools long before Moffett's story became public.

He declined to say how many complaints the ACLU had received, adding that it was confidential.

Jordan confirmed that he had placed a notice on the Philadelphia Public School Notebook's website asking teachers and students to notify the ACLU if they believe there had been any retaliation against them for criticizing the district's Renaissance Schools initiative for turning around poorly performing schools.

Moffett, 25, said she had openly questioned the methodology used by the district to determine that students at her school, Audenried High, in Grays Ferry, were performing poorly.

The school was reopened as a new school only 2 1/2 years ago, and no junior class has yet taken a state assessment test, the results of which are needed to determine a poorly performing school.

Yesterday, Moffett learned that her "investigatory conference" is set for 11:30 a.m. tomorrow with district administrators. She will be accompanied by a union rep from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Yesterday was the fifth day that Moffett was required to spend in the district's "rubber room" in the basement of Strawberry Mansion High School for teachers facing discipline.

The letter that Jordan posted on Public School Notebook asks anyone with information "about something that has happened to you or that you have witnessed" to send an e-mail to info@aclupa.org or call 215-592-1513, extension 1.

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