Parents upset over nonrenewal of teacher

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

SNELLVILLE — Some parents at Norton Elementary School said the unfair treatment of a fifth-grade teacher has ruined the end of the year for their children.

Several parents said Dianne Ashmore was notified on April 21, the Thursday before her students took the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, that her contract would not be renewed for the following school year.

The parents said Ashmore was absent from school the week of the CRCT and for much of May. What has parents and their children upset is that the school principal told the class a couple of weeks ago that Ashmore would not be returning for the rest of the year.

Ashmore declined to be interviewed, but parents said they talked to the teacher and found she was told not to report to the school.

“This is their last year in elementary school,” said Snellville resident Sanona Williams, the parent of one of Ashmore’s students. “Instead of it ending on a high note, most of them don’t want to go to school. ... They’re already nervous and scared (about going to middle school) and the one person who’s been a rock isn’t there.”

Snellville resident Ana Drummond said she’s upset that school officials told the children Ashmore wouldn’t return before notifying the parents.

“I’m so mad at that school,” Drummond said. “My son is so traumatized from this.”

Since Ashmore has been gone, Drummond said her son’s attitude has been affected. In Ashmore’s class, Drummond said her son showed academic improvement for the first time since he started school. She said his writing has improved tremendously from the beginning of the year, and his reading comprehension went up as well.

“She’s gone above and beyond for those kids,” she said.

Drummond, Williams and other parents said they were impressed with Ashmore’s performance. They said all of Ashmore’s students passed the fifth-grade writing test, as well as the CRCT.

“It’s very unfair that her reward is to be let go,” Williams said.

School district officials have said teacher’s contracts are not renewed for performance reasons. Ashmore, who was in her second year of teaching, was not tenured and, therefore, not afforded the due process rights of veteran educators.

“The student’s success is representative of the teaching style that she had,” said Monica Fultz, a parent and Snellville resident.

Fultz said she feels that the school “abandoned” the children.

“This was not fair to them,” Fultz said. “What kind of memories are they going to have of fifth grade?”