Mar 11, 2011

Improperly Fired DCPS Teachers Speak Out!

By Candi Peterson

In 2008, approximately 75 probationary teachers were fired at the direction of then Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson. In 2008, Henderson sent an email to DC Public Schools principals indicating that if they wanted to get rid of probationary teachers they could simply click on a link listing the names of teachers from their schools. On March 10, 2011 - some of these wrongfully terminated teachers spoke out at the Washington Teachers' Union office about their stellar accomplishments and their horror at receiving letters in the mail during July and August 2008 indicating they were terminated without explanation. These teachers talked about only learning of the reasons for their terminations several weeks ago after an arbitrator's decision ordered them reinstated with back pay to DCPS. Their firing had nothing to do with their performance as teachers. Here is what they said:

"I always received positive evaluations, never been written up on warning," said Kadesha Bonds, who was a second-year teacher. (Kadesha Bonds pictured at top left with award)

"I was never written up. I never received bad evaluations. It was always about what I was wearing or my personal life," said Bianca Clemons, who was also in her second year.

"When I left in June of 2008, my report said I was fine. On July 17th, I got the same letter saying you’re had been fired. I said, ‘What?’" said photography teacher Leigh Mosley.

Kadesha Bonds, a former "2006 New Teacher of the Year" stated that she had a conversation with Vincent Gray when he was Council Chair and he agreed at that time that an injustice had been done to this group of wrongfully terminated teachers. Having been in office as DC's mayor for approximately 60 days- it saddens many of us that Mayor Gray has already forgotten the commitments he made to right the injustices of the Rhee and Henderson administration. Despite Mayor Gray's earlier statements which suggested that he would follow the arbitrator's ruling in this case, this group of wrongfully terminated teachers are still playing the waiting game to return to their first love- the joy of teaching in our schools while DCPS appeals this ruling. Listen as these teachers speak out and tell their side of the story on Fox 5 news and WJLA.


efavorite said...

What stood out to me the most in this clip was Rhee's smug look as she spoke into the camera.

I wonder if Kaya has developed that skill

Classic said...

It is so refreshing to see that this administration is not going to let DCPS win the battle in the media. I applaud you and Nathan for giving these teachers a platform and an audience to tell their story. Hopefully, this may help SOME people see how viscous DCPS was with firing teachers.It is good to see the union fight back.

Look, and Read again and again said...

We all need to pay attention. This is us and can be more of us. They are brave and courageous souls. Finally, the WTU is doing something to let the world know our side of this horrible story with Rhee/Henderson regime. One station noted that the letters notifying principals they could fire teachers (probationary) came from Kaya. While Gray may think she is fine why should we? We are finally going in the right direction.

Candi Peterson said...

I sat through the entire press conference. It tugged at my heart strings to hear these teachers stories. I know first hand one of the stories involving a 2008 teacher who was fired. If you recall, these teachers had already been rated so after the email came out from Kaya Henderson, principals had to craft a justification to fire teachers who they previously rated as meeting and/or exceeding expectations. A probationary teacher at the school where I previously worked was meets expectations. After the email Henderson sent, the principal changed the rating to a much lower evaluation. I talked to this young teacher a great deal of the summer about the possibility of losing her apartment, and of course not being able to finish her graduate program.

I couldn't do much back then but write this blog for her and teachers/school personnel like her. Nathan Saunders and I vow to continue to fight these injustices. I am disappointed in Gray's decision to not give us CHOICE in the selection of Kaya Henderson and to not follow the law as he promised. I am also disheartened that Gray is falling short on his campaign promises to teachers like Kadesha and others. If he continues in this vain, I imagine he will eventually fall on his own political sword. I plan to be there, front and center when it happens.

Keep the faith all- our fight has only just begin.

No justice, no peace.

Candi Peterson
WTU General Vice President

Anonymous said...

Gray is an Uncle Tom like the last. Promises you he'll stand but when his master looks his way he's back down on his knees. A man who won't stand and fight is no man at all.

Sheila H. Gill said...

Pursuit 4 Justices

The facts are clear. Credentials in education don’t matter in the Rhee/Henderson regime. It is strictly Arne Duncan’s business to bully Mayor Gray in keeping the Rhee/Henderson regime in DCPS. This is ridiculous. The Rheeform’s agenda is “Human Capital.” The DCPS students will continue to suffer with a high rate of turn over in the DCPS teaching profession.

I, too, am heartbroken and disappointed that Mayor Gray did not follow the appropriate procedures of recruiting a qualified educator with credentials to be the head of DCPS and settled for less.

Wrongfully Terminated DCPS employees, students and DC Voters must continue to stand united and fight the injustices that have plagued in the DC Government, especially in DCPS. Mayor Vincent Gray, Chairman Kwame Brown and the DC City Council members must be held accountable for their missteps in the DC Government.

I applaud Nathan and Candi for their commitments to expose the lies, injustices and ill practices in DCPS. Frankly, I’m very grateful to Nathan and Candi for demonstrating integrity, honesty and leadership qualities in serving all DCPS educators. It is imperative to “Pursuit 4 Justices” and fight for our human rights.

Teachers must speak “OUT!!”
Enough is Enough!!!

DC Principal said...

Yes principals were asked to release probationary teachers. I still have some of that info and will email it to you.

Dark Secret said...

Its not a Shock that Gray sold his soul for Money from the Millionaire Bully's that told him you must keep Kaya so she can continue what Rhee started. Rhee Broke the Law over and over again now look at Gray he's Broke the law in many ways the main one is by not doing a Nation Wide Search for someone with Experience of overseeing a School System and most of all Certifications in some area of Education. What else saddens me is that I have went to The new council chairman and he too has sold us out. All we have now is to hope Henderson doesn't get confirmed but again look at the Counsel ???

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the new leadership at the Washington Teachers' Union. This leadership team is NOT going to bend to the shenanigans, believe that!!

Anonymous said...

VInce Gray was told by Arne Duncan that If he wanted to keep getting funding from the Walton - Gates foundation and others he'd better listen up and do as we tell you or else. You will not survive in DC .The sell-out is going to be like Fenty and be a house monkey for Duncan & Rhee are just like George Parker was a NATURAL SELL OUT.

Anonymous said...

WAKE UP DC... Equal rights and justice do not seem to exist in DCPS. All what teachers are asking for is their equal rights and justice. I am totally disappointed in Mr. Gray. Look at the Rifed teachers, DC council voted to give their jobs back when Mr. Gray was the council chairperson but look and watch him try to dodge that too. SAD YEARS IN DCPS due to untrustworthy DCPS and DC Government administration. The bottom line is age, color, and geographical location discrimination.

Anonymous said...


Please continue to fight for the 2009 probationary teachers also. Like the 2008 group, we also never received evaluations and were never given reasons for our terminations.

Anonymous said...

Colbert I. King, keeping it real:

"Newly appointed D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson needs a strong mayor who's got her back, especially with signs of the Washington Teachers' Union returning to its obstructionist mode."

MVineyard said...

I don't know why people are so upset? Did you really believe that Gray was going to support teachers etc. ? I never believed it and it was all about winning and false promises. I also knew that once we received those raises, retro checks our professional lives were going to be crazy; furloughs, excess, etc. Look what's happening to the social workers. I am in the process of looking elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Colbert King keeping it real. A strong mayor?

Anonymous said...

I am still looking complete resume for Henderson.

Candi if you have one, please publish it. Anyone know the name of the middle school in the South Bronx mentioned in her bios.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

1. Is the Union upset that Mr. Gray, whom it supported w big bucks and lots of volunteers, is not doing what it wants? If so, why is this a surprise? Did he make promises? What were they?

2. Is the Union making a case regarding the rif'd teachers that discrimination was involved, or is it only "wrongful termination"--a different violation of law. (I have not seen the arbitation ruling. Are the docs. on the web?) What path are you taking?

3. How do you think DCPS parents feel about continued disruptions and controversies in and around the schools? Helpful for students, or not?

Holt said...

It is a very sad state of affairs for persons who want to teach...for the reward of teaching.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any metrics on the spread of the teacher evaluations for all of DCPS? If it turns out that everyone received positive evaluations because it's too difficult hand out anything but that then sadly, unjustified firings would continue. Why doesn't WTU propose an evaluation system that works and doesn't make it impossible to properly rate teachers

Freda said...

"I actually saw this when it aired. I wished the segment was a little longer! I am glad you all are using the media to show that these are real people with real families. This humanizes us and shows that most of us do our best on a daily basis to meet the needs of the children of the District."

Cheap Essays said...

Yes principals were asked to release probationary teachers. I still have some of that info and will email it to you.i totally agreed with you DC Principal

Schoolgal said...

Just had to share this with you:
(Also posted on the following FB pages)
Anthony Cody who has an excellent article on how Obama's Q&A did not match the Duncan policy--and how Duncan's people responded)
Petition to Oprah: Please Book Diane Ravitch.

If you can get some of your supporters to email Charlie Rose and ask him to book Diane Ravitch on his show, it would be appreciated.