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Teacher resigns following homework controversy

A copy of two questions from a homework assignment at Beaver Ridge Elementary School. Principal Jose DeJesus said a worksheet created by one of the school's teachers was sent home with four classes earlier this month.

A copy of two questions from a homework assignment at Beaver Ridge Elementary School. Principal Jose DeJesus said a worksheet created by one of the school's teachers was sent home with four classes earlier this month.

NORCROSS — A teacher at Beaver Ridge Elementary School has resigned in the wake of a controversy over math homework questions about slavery.

According to officials with the district, the Gwinnett County Public School System accepted the resignation of one teacher at the school during an investigation into four teachers there.

The NAACP earlier this month called for the firing of any teachers involved in creating and distributing the homework, which contained word problems about slavery.

“The principal will move forward immediately to fill the vacancy created by this resignation,” said Sloan Roach, director of communication and media relations with GCPS. “As this is a personnel matter, the district will not elaborate further.”

The name of the teacher who resigned has not yet been released by the district, nor have the names of others involved in the investigation.

A spokesperson with the Georgia State Conference NAACP said Wednesday the organization was aware of the teacher’s resignation but could not comment further.

Beaver Ridge Principal Jose DeJesus posted a letter to the school’s website on Jan. 10 to inform parents “of some community and media activity that occurred in front of our school.” He said the NAACP had held an event in front of the school “to express their concerns about a homework assignment that went home.”

The state NAACP president said in a previous statement that he refused “to believe the teacher or teachers responsible for allowing it to go forward did not understand fully what they were doing.”

“We need to understand how deep this is,” said state NAACP president Ed DuBose.

One of the homework questions read: “Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

Another question was: “If Frederick got two beatings each day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

DeJesus said he understood parents concerns about the questions.

”While I encourage our teachers to create cross curricular lessons, my expectation is that those lessons be appropriate and provide true connection between the subject areas,” DeJesus said. “That did not occur in this case and we are working to ensure that this does not happen again and that this situation is handled appropriately.”

Comments

MissDaisyCook 2 years, 3 months ago

I certain hope that teacher moves on to a better place with enlightened parents and community. She deserves better for her efforts than the ignorant rantings of the "hyper-sensitive," "I'm offended by everything" crowd. Would there be this foolishness if the slave beatings were discussed in history class? Or are we trying to erase our history there too?

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ssilover1 2 years, 3 months ago

That is too bad. So, I would wonder: if an honest person makes an honest mistake, is there no room for being contrite in GC? Is there no room for an err in judgement? Is the next perfect person going to get his job? Seems to me that a young person coming to GA from a college or university might think twice about applying here. So,GCPS thought it was an employer of choice... And as for the NAASP, did you check to see if the teacher was a member? He might have been. Then what would your position have been? Just asking...

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Mack711 2 years, 3 months ago

This is sad news. The GCPS has 'caved in' to an outside organization. Was this a mistake,probably so. Some want to change history and others try to teach it. This teacher should have been called in and told that this was unacceptable to the system, issue and apology maybe be given a day off with out pay and that is it. We all make mistakes at one time or another. But to have a group come in and demand some one to lose their job over a history lesson should not be tolerated. Was anyone protesting have children in this school? Probably not.

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dlbailley 2 years, 3 months ago

Making a math question say "If Fredrick got 2 beatings a day for 7 days how many beatings did he get" - especially when the lesson was about Fredrick Douglas is NOT teaching about the horrific history of slavery. Give me a break, it was inappropriate and the teacher should have known better. If you are going to teach about slavery you need to teach about the horrible events that these people went through, not make it out like it was a simple math problem. Slavery was extremely serious and should be taught as such. When I learned about slavery I was shocked, horrified and ashamed of my ancestors for what they did to PEOPLE. A teacher who cared about the issues would have taught them with the "respect" they deserve.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

Where's our little racist, Bruce, to weigh in and gloat over this teacher's departure since he and all of his little squealing school room sissy friends made such a spectacle over this? Gotta love Government School and all that comes with it including the product of it (i.e. Bruce). As for this clown above? LOL, you go on ahead and be ashamed of your ancestors since yours participated in it. As for me, I didn't have anything to do with it, nor my ancestors, not that I would give a crap since I'm in no way responsible for what my ancestors did last week, let alone 150 years ago. Stupidity comes in all forms. You and Bruce cut from the same mold?

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byronomo 2 years, 3 months ago

Basically this teacher exercised poor judgement. We all have to live with our decisions, right or wrong. Had the teacher shown the requisite thought and consideration in designing her quiz, she should've been able to easily rationalize to taxpayers why this non-standard way of teaching math was more beneficial to our children.
My problem with this instructor's approach is not because it touches a racially-sensitive topic. The history of our country is important (good points and bad) and is very important for our kids to lear. That being said, I think it would've been equally poor judgement (in a math quiz) to use examples about native-american slaughters, napalm, internment camps and other distasteful aspects of history that are important for children to learn---in the right context.
Think of it this way---on one hand, if the teacher thought that it was extremely important for children to learn about slavery and she truly understood the horrific nature of this practice, it was poor judgement to mention it with this intention in such a nonchalant manner. On the other hand if she believed that slavery was such a minimally important topic such that she could easily "sprinkle" into math problems--then she should've been fired for ignorance.

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GwinnettEducationAdvocate 2 years, 3 months ago

The Beaver Ridge Elementary School incident is indicative of other incidents that are happening in GCPS. The others do not get the press. This incident represents systemic racism that African American children and parents are experiencing. Parents have been speaking out to Principals and the school board, but no one has been listening. Chairman Wilbanks has again turned a deaf ear to the African American Community. If he thinks that this lesson plan for cross-curriculum teaching was just a mistake, then his credentials need to be reviewed and evaluated. We as citizens would then need to evaluate if he and his staff are qualified to manage one of the most diverse educational systems in the country.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

Remember this at election time. We elect our school board. Mary Kay Murphy,Where are you?

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MissDaisyCook 2 years, 3 months ago

I call B/S. You are badly dillusional if you think that there is pervasive racism in these schools. We have an Associate Superintendent that uses as her first criteria in selecting school principals that, "they have to reflect the race of the school they are assigned to." Right there she is saying that being the most qualified is not enough. Possibly you mean reverse-racism? I salute Superintendant Wilbanks for his courage in standing up to the whiny, agenda-driven, naysayers. He may be the last chance to keep GCPS from sliding into the same cess pool as DeKalb and City of Atlanta schools.

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latoniamorgan 2 years, 3 months ago

You are clearly dellusional and uneducated. Why should we as Black Americans accept that type of disrespectful behavior. Everyone doesn't want or need their kids exposed to the atrocities that occured to us as a race after being kidnapped, and brought to America. If we are being hyper-sensitive then make up some questions referring to the Holocoust. It's no big deal right?! How ignorant you are. People like you are the reason that the "the West" is soo hated by other countries!

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

No one disagrees these questions were inappropriate. Your kids hear and see more horrific and violence from the media via video games, rap music, and reality tv than they will ever see from the classroom. The melodrama and the decisions to go to the media probably harmed the students more than if you would have followed the proper channels.

Oh, and when you get fired from your job for doing something wrong, please don't complain or go to the NAACP.

You want respect? The fix your own problems and "disrespectful behavior" within your community! Stop running to the thugs at the NAACP. You and the NAACP should be more concerned about the cheating at ATL Public Schools and the harm that did to Black Americans.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

Rest easy, the admins are apparently safe...

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hpytravlr 2 years, 3 months ago

So true. Only teachers get fired. Admins get promoted to the Central Office and given a raise if they make a mistake.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, at least the teacher wasn't accused of cheating, like the teachers in the Atlanta system...Teacher resigned over pressure from parents and others. The job is just not worth the pay, and we wonder why no one wants to teach our children.

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RamProud 2 years, 3 months ago

Dear Gwinnetteducationadvocate,

Please give specifics if you want to be taken seriously. Giving a phrase such as "systemic racism that African American childen and parents are experiencing" in the GCPS is a very bold statement. If you can give facts that can be verified, then many more will jump on your bandwagon. If you can't, then you will leave us to believe that you just race baiting.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

Gwinnetteducationadvocate, Ditto what ^^^^^ said! Another extraordinarily baseless claim. I too would like to see verifiable examples.

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Matthew 2 years, 3 months ago

Considering that this is Gwinnett County, I suppose that we should all be grateful that the questions were written in English.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

Interesting bright side for sure, you take them where you can find them...

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

The question on the test was "How many CRACKERS comes in a box?"

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

Are the boxes Democratic or Republican?

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GwinnettEducationAdvocate 2 years, 3 months ago

More incidents about racism in GCPS….

Starting with our GCPS Chairman Wilbanks: It seems there was a presentation about the disproportionate discipline of minority students in Gwinnett, at which James Taylor, a school district administrator, reported that according to a study, discipline of minority students is a problem for school districts nationwide except in Idaho. Superintendent Wilbanks then quipped, “Do they have any blacks in Idaho? They don’t have many.”

At Chesney Elementary School in Duluth, Georgia, people were shocked to learn that the third graders were being assigned work in which they were asked questions like, “What does the U.S. do with illegal aliens?” Students had to choose between four possible answers. A) The U.S. them to work in the army. B) The U.S. shoots them into outer space. C) The U.S. puts them to death. D) The U.S. sends them back where they came from…..

GCPS has disproportionate representation of African Americans who are “paneled” and expelled to Alternative schools…. This is just the start of this conversation. Dr. James Taylor compiles yearly discipline reports. Send an open records request to Jorge Gomez. He may give it to you depending on how he is feeling. Of course there is much more…

Unfortunately, what was exposed in Atlanta and DeKalb hurt the children. Wrong is wrong. However, Gwinnett has not been exposed. Why do you think the investigation at Beaver Ridge Elementary was closed?

Many more parents have stories. Some are afraid to come forward because of fear of retaliation by their school. This is the Gwinnett I live in.

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Jan 2 years, 3 months ago

Though I agree that racism does exist in the schools, I must take issue with your implication that it is a prevalent issue. First, it should be pointed out that we live in a area where many feel comfortable displaying their racism openly. Even politicians can be heard making racist implications to gain the support of such racist. The schools must address this problem when it comes into schools. Now lets look at the points you make. Your categorization of Superintendent Wilbanks' comment as "quipped" is a mischaracterization intended to emphasize your interpretation of an innocent comment intended to point out that lack of statistics could well be the reason that Idaho doesn't appear to have a problem. Next, your wording of the so called question has such grammatical errors that it can not be taken as an accurate portrayal of the teachers actual questions. In fact, the correct answer isn't even given in your choices which is "allows them to continue to work in jobs Americans don't want at or below minimum wage". So now we have only your third example which does appear to indicate racism and indicates a need of follow up studies to compare handling of incidences based on race, economic level, gender and other factors. So many things that appear to be racist on the surface is actually a prejudice against the poor since our racist past has resulted in disproportion of poor being non-white. Lets be quick to denounce racism but also wise enough to distinguish between true racism and a simple misuderstanding of how others will react to an innocent statement of fact.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

You are so full of crap. I know Margaret Ackerman personally, and have worked with her for years. Not only does she not condone this type of behavior, she condemns it. Wilbank's statement isn't a statement of race. It's a statement of fact. In as much as making comments about the overwhelming numbers of your hyphenated-Americans enjoying three hots and a cot in the prison system, say what you will, it is not a racist statement. It is a statement of fact. Jan and I don't agree on much, but she is right on target here. Making statements that are factually correct is not racist. They are an indictment of a culture that embraces lying, cheating, stealing, assaulting, and all other such related dysfunctional activities that come from fatherless children, addicted parents, and other issues related to an epic failure to recognize it as a problem, and make adjustments and take corrective action to change the course of destiny. Those that manage to have enough strength to make a better life for themselves and get out also change the lives of their families for generations to come. And then you say things like "you act too white" whatever that is supposed to mean. You can whine about it, or you can do something about it. You’ll listen to the idiots at the NAACP, but condemn the words of those, like Bill Cosby, who truly has your best interest at heart.

BTW, you must be Bruce. You really do act like Bruce.

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LogicalPoint 2 years, 3 months ago

Poor decision by the teacher? Yes Reason to resign? No

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davewfence 2 years, 3 months ago

What's the problem here? I mean why was the naacp bothered? The math question did not specify a race, and as we all know, or at least should know, there were slaves of all races. I do not hear any other group complaining. The naacp is nothing but a bunch of racists themselves. Afterall, how many times have they (the naacp) advocated the position of any other race, other than black. It's a shame that a story like this has even been mentioned. Isn't there enough real issue in the world to deal with without inventing one. NAACP, get a life.

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

To suggest that GCPS is racist is rather asinine and uninformed comment. GCPS encourages the entire World to attend it's schools thus encouraging the majority minority county which we now live in. This happened in a majority populated Hispanic school with a hispanic administration, and the suspect offending teacher is reported to be Hispanic. To outright offend and be racist (please look up the factual definition) means GCPS is trying to get rid of the very people that have made them so big.

How can GCPS embrace diversity to the highest degree with encouraging minorities to attend it's schools and hiring a popuation of teachers to reflect that, and yet be called out for racism?

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Nottahappycamper 2 years, 3 months ago

Bigotry and racism are two different things. However, bigotry is way too often mistaken for racism. Whatever.....Since no specific factually supported proof has been given of such racism, stop this spreading of poison. Prove there is racism if you can. This Beaver Ridge issue was simply a mistake in judgement. I can understand the teachers motive in combining current areas of study into their curriculum but the material used in the test should have been different. But I don't believe it was racism. It's over now. Decisions were made and consequences were dealt with. Be done with this already.

Who funds the NAACP? As with ANY group who congregate at large protests REGARDLESS of RACE/COLOR or ETHNICITY, how do these people make a living? Who pays these folks to be outside the school and protest during normal business hours? I can understand the parents of these children who were in this classroom at the time of the test protesting, but the NAACP?? And.....where was Jesse Jackson?

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Mack711 2 years, 3 months ago

Jessie is not coming, they do not have enough momey to pay his 'fee' for coming. You know what it will cost to get him here, thousands and thousands of dollars. Neal Boortz calls him and Al Sharprton race pimp that lives off others.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

One other last thougth.... "How come the NAACP didn't react to the Teacher's Cheating Scandal in Atlanta", like they did this? I would think Black-White teachers, cheating for students is more important than 2 questions on a math test. The NAACP just want's the headlines and have no interest in what's really important in Education. They need to let the educators,.. educate, and stay out of their business. Gwinnett County School system needs to rehire the teacher give her job back to her.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

give him his job back, i stand corrected. sorry.

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judie 2 years, 3 months ago

Is anyone forgetting this 3rd grade has black teachers too? It didn't seem to bother them

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

The teacher resigned, but apparently that is not good enough for the Victims. Lets call them what they want to be called - Victims. They wanted the teacher fired and for more of a public blood bath than what they got. Bottom line - it will never be enough.

The mistake the Victims made was going public, to the media. Just look at any Victim that you see complaining to the media about any so called Injustice. The general public does not treat it seriously and turns it into reality TV. They ridicule them for making mountains out of mole hills, and rightfully so.

The students will suffer more due to the decisions made by their parents going public and making a mockery out of this whole situation.

GCPS needs to realize when they inticed all these diverse populations to invade their schools they invited these problems as well. GCPS - too big to fail? They certainly are failing those of us who pay the most in taxes to this country.

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GwinnettEducationAdvocate 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes we do need action. It took not just a law but an amendment to the Constitution to end slavery. It took the United State Supreme Court to say that there was inequality in education, it took the Voting Rights Act of 1963 to get people their right to vote and that's less than 50 years! School systems are made up of people.

Civil Rights are not just a coined phrase but rights thousands have died for. Organizations must speak out when there is indifference and intolerance. In Gwinnett parents/community stakeholders have gone through the chain of command, to their teachers, their administrators, their school board representative, the board, the executive assistant, the Chairman. NO ONE WANTS TO LISTEN about their questions and concerns regarding their children! Now with others talking they must.

Bigotry and hatred are being spewed by writers in these columns (who knows some of you may be teachers).

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

First you called it racism, now it's just bigotry and hatred? You get more attention with the Racist label, so why not continue with that theme? Is it not working for you?

GCPS does more to kiss your rear end because of nothing more than fear. They are so scared of offending people like you because they know you'll run to the media every chance you get. I think GCPS needs to learn a lesson from this, that they should not pay attention to you labels and cave into thugs like the NAACP.

You are going to find that most people are so DONE with being labeled hate names by people like you and your friend Bruce. The more you scream, the more on deaf ears your words will fall.

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Linda 2 years, 3 months ago

I wonder what would have happeded if redneck would have been used instead of slave? Would the naacp (this organization was founded by mostly white people) care about bigotry? I doubt it. naacp likes to point fingers and cause problems only when something is percieved to be negative or against blacks. The word slave could refer to any race, ask someone who is of Irish descent. The teachers used poor judgement at best. A reprimand should have been given. Now that the teacher has resigned, will he or she be able to get another teaching position? Parents I hope you are happy, now we will have to pay taxes for another unemployed person.

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Mack711 2 years, 3 months ago

If they used a recneck as an example they would have laughed at them selves. Jeff Foxworthy has made millinons of that line. This story is all over the world. England http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/us-teacher-resigns-over-slavery-math-lesson-1.1216221 among a few other countries.

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jenelaw 2 years, 3 months ago

Leave it to a bunch of adults to take something small (in the grand scheme of things) and explode it into something ridiculous to grab 15 minutes of fame. There is no doubt that the homework questions were inappropriate and better judgment should have been used on the part of the teacher, but I do not think the teacher's intention was to be racist or degrading. The teacher was trying to integrate social studies with math. This is something that is constantly pushed in education circles and teachers often get together with other content areas to try and create relevance by integrating content. If you have read the biography of Frederick Douglass then you know he mentions that he was beaten routinely.. even stating that he received as many as two beatings in a day. One can easily see what the teacher was trying to do. Poor judgment....absolutely, but intentionally racist...no way. Have we not all made poor judgments at times? These parents that want counseling for their children and are so worried that their kids can't handle this need to get a life. The only people permanently scarred by this are the teachers whose jobs are now on the line because people insist on blowing this out of proportion instead of seeing it for what it is...a bad mistake.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

No, they don't need to get a life. They need to seek counseling themselves.

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foodybu 2 years, 3 months ago

Hmm, why isn't anyone upset over the bullying, suicides, KILLINGS, teacher bullying toward students, pushing them, punching them, locking them in padded rooms everyday without telling parents, and on and on. Schools do determential hurt to students and nothing is done even if it IS reported, but if parents did anything like this the schools would turn them in. Also, WHY isn't anyone upset over the teacher in Texas that KILLED a student in front of the other students, and told the parent she was doing her JOB?? She is now teaching in Virginia. She did NOT have ANYthing happen to her. But then, everyone is in an UPROAR about this petty thing?? I hope there are school employees here that will comment on this.

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CD 2 years, 3 months ago

How about a set of alternate questions:

If the BOC stole $1 from each GC taxpayer and then divided it among themselves, how much cash could each BOC member stack in their freezer, assuming there was no constraint on freezer size?

or

If you sum the following: Nick and Charles' DUI test results and then divide your answer by two, what would the result be?

or

If Brett had an airport financed and guaranteed by the taxpayer who was sure to lose, and the airport had ten gates (including the Bannister/Kenerly VIP gate), and there were 100 takeoffs/landings per day, on average how many planes will be at each gate during a 24 hour period?

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BoBo 2 years, 3 months ago

The questions were inappropriate.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 3 months ago

Why has not Alvin Wilbanks and Mary Kay Murphy not responding to this issue? Stand up for your employees or resign.... What are they doing? counting their SPLOST money?

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ssilover1 2 years, 3 months ago

After reading all these comments, it is clear that an error in judgement has happened, no malice intended,and became totally out of hand because some wanted to make it bigger than it was. It served their personal agenda so... go for the blood. BUT the bigger picture is that this very type of overreaction to a situation and not allowing those directly involved to come to the table for a sit down healthy, productive discussion has produced a monster. The questions were wrong. I don't know anyone who thinks otherwise, but as long as people "demand" and are so intolerant of imperfection we will NEVER be a united citizenry. NEVER. This type diatribe is so distructive.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

According to this, the Grade chair didn't review it but used it in her own classroom? It would be interesting to find out the how and why... Training in the near future?

"According to the Gwinnett schools investigative file, Christina Bartolo was the grade level chair who did not review the homework before it was distributed to students. It was used in four classrooms: Rivera’s, Bartolo’s, and those of teachers Deserae Moore and Maricary Garcia-Carrero."

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motherinduluth 2 years, 2 months ago

Louise Radloff did offer an apology at the board meeting tonight regarding the incident. I did not hear any similar statements from JAWS or the other board members. I heard several "thank-yous" from the audience. But, then she immediately followed with saying she felt the board had handled the situation appropriately . . .

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Suwaneesince1991 2 years, 2 months ago

This is how the long arm of the law works. GCPS gets you in a room, does not allow representation, legal, for you and says that the Superintendent has lost faith in you. You can fight the charges in an open hearing, thereby damaging your ability to ever find a teaching job again, or you can resign and hope to find a job next year- which we all now won't happen because they blackball you all over the state.

GCPS, we somewhat care about our students but we care more about our PR.

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ssilover1 2 years, 2 months ago

It does not serve some people's agenda for this to be handled and apologies made. Nothing satisfies them except headlnes. Headlnes and TV. That is why they "go" there.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 2 months ago

Are the parents going to continue the open dialog with their children and tell them that they had a hand in their teacher losing his job? From start to finish, these parents have caused more damage than needed. How one handles themselves in any given situation shows a lot about their intelligence and character. Going to the media and inviting a hate group in your vendetta against a teacher and his ridiculous questions is about as low as you can go.

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