Palo Alto High principal Phil Winston was being investigated for sexual harassing students and teachers when he stepped down nine months ago, parents learned last week. He’s now co-teaching special education students at a middle school.
According to a notice of “unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance,” Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Scott Bowers ordered Winston to refrain from “profanity, sexual comments and innuendo, and derogatory terms;” avoid physical contact with students and employees; and undergo sexual harassment prevention training. He was also encouraged to seek counseling to help him understand “appropriate behavior boundaries.”
It was too difficult to fire him, reports the Palo Alto Weekly. “In California, the law makes it so expensive and onerous to terminate a credentialed teacher that most districts decide not to even try.”
Ninety-eight percent of California teachers attain tenure, known as “permanence,” after two years, writes Larry Sand in Terrible Tenure in City Journal. Are 98 percent so good they should have jobs for life?
A group of nine students is challenging the state’s permanence, seniority, and dismissal statutes. They argue they’ve been denied equal access to good teachers. Superior Court judge Rolf Treu will issue a ruling in Vergara v. California by July 10.
“If the students prevail, several union-backed statutes will be eliminated from the education code and declared unconstitutional,” writes Sand. “It would then be up to each school district to come up with its own policies on tenure and seniority.”
Nationwide, low-income and minority students are less likely to be taught by highly effective teachers, concludes a Center for American Progress report.
In the last 10 years, 91 permanent teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) were fired in the state. Only 19 (.0007 percent) were dismissed for poor performance.
Only 2 percent of Indiana teachers “need improvement” and less than on-half of one percent are “ineffective,” according to a new teacher evaluation system that’s raising eyebrows.