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Teachers await hearing outcome

MONTICELLO – The hearing for two Rod Paige Middle Schoolteachers accused of state testing irregularities concludedThursday, but a final decision is still several weeks away, aschool official said.

The hearing, which was requested by the teachers, is considereda personnel matter and was closed to the public.

Sharon Dungan, federal programs and testing coordinator for theLawrence County School District, said Thursday’s hearing lastedless than two hours and included only the final summations.

“We finished the hearing,” she said. “The next step is to getthe transcripts done and get them to the school board toreview.”

Although it is possible the district’s board of trustees couldrule on the matter at its regular Aug. 17 meeting, Dungan said itwas “highly unlikely.”

“It will take a little time to prepare the transcripts and forthem to review them,” she said.

The board could rule on the matter at its regular meeting Sept.21 or before then, she said.

“That would be their call,” Dungan said. “They could call aspecial meeting before then to announce their decision.”

There have been only a few days of testimony in the hearing,although it began in late June. There were several delays caused byscheduling conflicts with the attorneys after the hearing lastedlonger than the two days allotted.

The two teachers are accused of helping their students take theMississippi Curriculum Test during state testing in May.

They were not rehired for the 2004-2005 school year, but shouldthey prevail in the hearing the district must rehire them, saidSuperintendent Russell Caudill.

Caudill said he cannot comment on the proceedings or the natureof the irregularities until the hearing process is completed.

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.

James McCafferty, a Jackson attorney representing the teachers,said when the hearings began he would not discuss the matterbecause it was considered a personnel matter and the proceedingswere therefore confidential.

The MCT is directly connected with the accreditation level of aschool through the State Accountability Model for the No Child LeftBehind Act. They are 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, but administrators do get the results of the testbroken down into several categories, such as by class, and thescores can be part of an evaluation of a teacher’s performance.