Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Frisco teacher imbroglio

I don't often comment on stories concerning our home town, lovely and crime-free Frisco TX, because the number of people who care is pretty darn small (but growing all the time). However, this story has gone national, and it's steaming my shorts a bit.

Perhaps you've heard of Frisco Independent School District's non-renewal of elementary school art teacher Sydney McGee's contract. This ending of employment has become national news because the national media has reported that a parent complained about his/her child seeing a piece of nude art during a field trip to an art museum during Ms. McGee's class. The connection has been made in the national media (assisted significantly by Ms. McGee and her attorney, Rogge Dunn) between the complaint and Ms. McGee's dismissal.

Since the beginning of the brouhaha, FISD has taken the high road. They've hinted there are additional facts in the case, Ms. McGee has other performance issues, and the dismissal is about those other issues and not the parent complaint. But, in accordance with the law and basic decency, they have not given any specifics and have, as a result, become the butt of jokes and scathing commentary from all over the place.

The time has finally come for FISD to defend itself, and thus they have requested Ms. McGee's permission to publicly open her personnel file. There's about zero chance Ms. McGee gives the go-ahead to do so, but this at least lets the public know FISD does have some additional ammo in their argument.

The lesson here for FISD (probably) is better communication with their teachers, especially those who are not performing adequately. There's no way of knowing if FISD really does (and did here) a good job of communicating in these situations and Ms. McGee is really a nut. Regardless, when a story blows up like this one has, you've got to take away some lessons.

For my part, I've been VERY pleased with FISD in my dealings with them. Both of my kids attend school in FISD, both enjoy school a great deal (a lot more than I did back in the day), both are excelling, and the teachers and administrators have been tremendously helpful and professional. I have no complaints.

I would ask parents who have personal knowledge of the facts of the McGee case to start posting them, writing letters to the editors of the DMN and other publications, and generally start spreading the news. FISD is not going to be able to defend itself adequately and needs our help.


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