Local News

Teacher Who Alerted State About EOG Test Score Changes Fired

Posted February 8, 2005

— The investigation into test tampering at Sallie B. Howard For The Arts & Education in Wilson has taken another turn. On Saturday, the teacher who reported possible wrongdoing was served a letter of termination.

Dr. JoAnne Woodard, the school's director, was in Raleigh Monday to meet with state officials about strengthening testing security at the school.

Woodard told WRAL that the teacher was not fired for filing a complaint. The letter of termination said he was fired for being in "violation of both state and school rules of conduct and ethics."

Woodard said the teacher falsely accused two other teachers of changing answers on last year's end-of-grade tests. The fired teacher, who does not want his name made public, feels he was fired for being a whistleblower.

Private investigators did find evidence that test answers were changed to boost scores. On Friday, the test coordinator, Dr. Laura Edwards, resigned.

The State Board of Education's attorney is waiting for the investigator's report. He said he cannot say what consequences the school or the test coordinator will face. He also would not comment yet on the firing of the teacher who alerted the state in the first place.

A state statute protects whistleblowers from retaliation, but a labor law expert who spoke with WRAL said it all comes down to facts. If a teacher intentionally pointed at teachers who did not do anything wrong, that person can be fired. If the teacher was fired in retaliation, that person has a strong legal case against the school.

In a side note, the Wilson County public school system has banned transfers from the school during the school year. The policy went into effect on Jan. 15, 2005.

Bob Kendall, a spokesman for Wilson County schools, said the majority of transfers have discipline or academic problems. Kendall said the charter school is not fulfilling its obligation to those students.

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