Frisco Enterprise > News
Teacher placed on leave
BY KEVIN BOWEN
A Fisher Elementary school art teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay, and the Frisco school district superintendent has stated that he will recommend that the district not renew her contract, in the latest salvo that might or might not have to do with students viewing nude artwork.
The announcement by superintendent Rick Reedy, made at a Frisco ISD school board meeting Monday, is the latest event in a public dispute with the teacher, Sydney McGee. The teacher says the actions of the district arise from parent complaints about a fifth-grade field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art in April, at which students allegedly viewed nude artwork. District officials say that their actions result from other performance issues.
McGee's attorney, Rogge Dunn of Dallas, said he was disappointed with the statement regarding the non-renewal.
"I think it's very sad that a teacher who is so committed to teaching would be let go or non-renewed over this issue," Dunn said.
He called for parents to voice support for his client. "It's up to the parents in Frisco to let their voices be heard to try to rectify the situation," Dunn said.
Anne McCausland, Fisher Elementary PTA president, said she only knows about the situation through press reports, but that she supports the actions of the school board. She estimated that support is common at the school.
"A majority of our parents in the school support the decision," McCausland said
She said she is not authorized to speak on behalf of the PTA, but that she spoke as a parent.
The dispute came to light last month, when the board turned down McGee's request for a transfer to another school in the district.
McGee has stated that she received her first negative performance review right after the field trip, and that the school attempted to place her on a "growth plan," which she believed would lead to her eventual dismissal.
The school district has stated that the actions it has taken involving McGee have been in response to concerns about her performance, and their denial of a transfer is meant to keep teachers from having an "escape hatch."
Fisher principal Nancy Lawson had discussed areas of improvement with McGee in May 2005, according to a statement released by the district. The trip to the museum was approved as a way to strengthen the arts program, but Lawson expressed concern about the planning of the trip before it took place.
The district statement said the negative performance evaluation dealt with issues unrelated to the field trip.
"No teacher's job status would be jeopardized based on students' incidental viewing of nude art," the statement read.
When asked about the planning for the trip, Dunn said the trip was attended by 89 children, and that it arrived back at school on time.
"She said [planning is] something that they made up afterward," Dunn said.
The district release indicates that McGee might have been recognized with an award in a 2004 advertising campaign in this newspaper. The district's release says there was "no set way" that campuses made their selection. The release did not specify how Fisher made its selection.
Dunn said that if the board takes action, he would work through the appeals process and consider legal options. He said the goal is to clear his client's name and avoid a non-renewal.
"That's a black mark on your career," he said.