Hearing delayed for two teachers

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2004

MONTICELLO — A due process hearing for two Lawrence Countyteachers accused of leaking answers to a portion of the StateCurriculum Test has been postponed, a Lawrence County SchoolDistrict official said.

The postponement came at the request of the teachers’ attorney,said Sharon Dungan, the district’s testing coordinator. Attorneyson both sides are working to reschedule the hearing, but a new datehas not been set.

The teachers’ attorney requested the postponement because of adeath in the family of one his clients, which would prevent himfrom meeting with the client in time to prepare for the hearing,she said.

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Another factor in the postponement, Dungan said, is that eachteacher may have their own hearing. She could not say if the splithearings were for strategic reasons or because of the death in thefamily.

“That was the preliminary information that we received when wewere asked to postpone the hearing,” she said.

The teachers were suspended with pay in May when the allegationsof state testing irregularities surfaced. They were not included inthe faculty list for next year, Dungan said.

“That is partly what the hearings are for,” she said. “If theallegations are not true, we will have to rehire them.”

Superintendent Russell Caudill, who was unavailable for commentWednesday, has previously declined to explain the nature of theirregularities, but said they allegedly occurred while the schoolwas administering the MCT during the first week of May.

According to one school official, who preferred to stayanonymous, the teachers are accused of presenting the students withpractice problems to work the day before the tests wereadministered, and the students were allowed to take them home tocontinue practicing. Those problems were later determined to be thesame as the ones presented on the MCT.

The MCT is directly connected with the accreditation level of aschool through the State Accountability Model for the No Child LeftBehind Act. It is administered to all students in grades 2-8 inreading, language and math, Dungan said.

There is no direct benefit to teachers for their students topass the test because Mississippi does not have a merit pay system.However, administrators do get the results of the test broken downinto several categories, such as by class, and the scores can bepart of an evaluation of a teacher’s performance.