District keeping Hope on the hook

Posted: March 03, 2011

Hope Moffett has displayed a surprisingly cheerful outlook throughout the seven days that she's been removed from her classroom at Audenried High School, but the teacher conceded that she felt a little nervous before the start of her disciplinary hearing yesterday.

"I was shaking a little in the beginning," Moffett, 25, said during a break outside the district's High School Academic Division offices inside Strawberry Mansion High School in North Philadelphia.

"It was a sense that finally the moment of anticipation of this meeting had come."

During yesterday's 50-minute meeting, Moffett and her union rep faced off with Linda Cliatt-Wayman, the assistant superintendent for high schools, and Andrew Rosen, the district's executive director of employee relations.

"They brought out the big guns for me," a smiling Moffett said.

But she wasn't punished yesterday. Instead, Moffett was told she will face a second meeting, which she said indicates the district plans to file a "204" disciplinary action against her. That could mean anything from an "unpaid suspension" to a "termination."

Even if she loses her job, Moffett said, "I feel like I'm doing the right thing.

"All I did was speak out in public, and that obviously raised the ire of the district."

Moffett was reassigned to the district's disciplinary office after publicly criticizing a plan to convert Audenried to a charter school managed by Universal Companies, the development firm run by Kenny Gamble.

Community leaders said the district never consulted them about the plan, which led to a student protest on Feb. 15 outside district headquarters.

Moffett said Wayman confirmed yesterday that the two complaints against her are that she gave SEPTA tokens to students to travel to the protest and that she disclosed information about her reassignment after the district ordered her not to.

Moffett was scheduled to report for her eighth day in "teacher jail" today as she awaits her final punishment.

She added that union officials have told her that the nothing in the disciplinary process against her appears "normal."

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said a routine "investigatory conference" is "conducted by the principal at the [school] level." "He or she documents the accusations against a teacher and them makes a recommendation to the regional superintendent," Jordan said yesterday afternoon. "But this conference was initiated by Linda Wayman."

He said it is also unusual for Rosen, the top official in employee relations, to be part of an investigatory conference. "There usually is a labor-relations assistant," Jordan said.

Shana Kemp, a district spokeswoman, said last night that the district doesn't discuss personnel matters. Asked about Rosen's involvement, Kemp said, "We can't get into that. We are following all the prescribed policies."

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