|Hope Moffett, second from right|
Not. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' President Jerry Jordan filed a lawsuit to stop the school district, and won. See the lawsuit below.
How I wish Mr. Jordan would come to New York City and replace the current leadership of the United Federation of Teachers! He has it right about rights, and we need him here to save our teachers from the abuse of the NYC Department of Education and the neglect of the UFT/NYSUT.
Philadelphia Teacher Hope Moffet Wins Her First Amendment Lawsuit Against the Philadelphia School District
Parentadvocates.org, Betsy Combier, Editor
The PFT filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia asking for injunctive relief in the case of Hope Moffett, an Audenried High School English teacher who has been outspoken about the conversion of Audenried to a charter school. The school district tried to fire her for giving tokens to students so that they could travel to a protest rally. “The suit is being filed on behalf of all PFT members to protect their right to speak freely, without fear of retaliation or intimidation by the district,” PFT President Jerry Jordan said. The school district agreed on March 18 to re-instate Ms. Moffett to her position on March 21. Hooray to the PFT for doing the right thing and putting at least the New York Teacher Union, the UFT, to shame. That's my opinion, Betsy Combier
Hope Moffett heading back to Audenried classroom
By JOSH CORNFIELD, Philadelphia Daily News, email@example.com 215-854-2893
The Philadelphia School District's fight against Hope came to a surprisingly happy ending yesterday.
Hope Moffett, the Audenried High School English teacher who was exiled from her classroom for the last 19 school days and expected to be fired, will be back in front of her students on Monday.
Moffett, 25, will receive a five-day suspension after acknowledging that she didn't notify Audenried's principal on Feb. 14 that students planned to leave school to attend a rally on Feb. 15 "even though no parental permission had been submitted to the school," the district said in a statement.
"I stand by all of the things that I've done and I feel really happy that it worked out really well in the end," Moffett said after the arrangement was hammered out in front of a federal magistrate yesterday. "But I was prepared to go down all the way to termination. . . . I took a position I believed in, so I never really worried about what was going to happen."
The district had moved to fire her earlier this month after Moffett spoke out against plans to turn Audenried into a charter school, leading the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to file a federal civil-rights lawsuit seeking an injunction.
An administrator recommended that she be fired after the district charged her with endangering the welfare of children after she gave a student SEPTA tokens to attend the rally. She was also charged with publicly discussing her removal from the classroom.
From the beginning, it looked to many that the district was trying to silence a vocal critic of its controversial plan to hand Audenried over to Universal Companies, the development firm run by local music mogul Kenny Gamble.
"This settlement reinforces our belief that PFT members have the right to voice their concerns about workplace issues without threat of retribution or intimidation from their employer," PFT president Jerry Jordan said in a statement.
Despite being banished since Feb. 18 to "teacher jail" in the basement of a district administrative building - instead of helping prepare her juniors for the state assessment tests that they began to take this week - Moffett said she'll continue to speak her mind about the district's plans.
"All of their recent public statements have said this isn't a free-speech issue, so I take that to mean I can speak out to whatever extent [necessary]," Moffett said. "If they're so adamant that it's not a free-speech issue, then I'm going to use my freedom of speech."
Moffett said she'll do her best to get a job with the company if the plans to hand Audenried and Vaux Middle School to Universal go through. All of the school's teachers would then have to reapply for their jobs.
"I really want to see the students graduate," Moffett said. "I know for a fact there are other staff in the building who feel that way. We are so invested in [the students].
The district said in a news release: "Educating students is and will always be the No. 1 priority of the School District of Philadelphia. The parents of our students expect us to know the whereabouts of their children during school hours."
School District Agrees to a Settlement in Free-Speech Lawsuit Filed by the Teachers Union
Press Release Source: Philadelphia Federation of Teachers On Friday March 18, 2011, 8:23 pm EDT
PHILADELPHIA, March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and School District of Philadelphia agreed late Friday afternoon to settle a First-Amendment lawsuit that the union filed against the District in U.S. District Court a week ago.
During a conference with Magistrate L. Felipe Resttrepo, the School District agreed to return Hope Moffett to Audenried High School effective Monday and reduce Ms. Moffett’s termination to a five-day suspension.
The PFT will proceed directly to expedited arbitration on the suspension because it does not agree that Ms. Moffett should have been subjected to any discipline.
“This has been an extremely difficult experience for Hope Moffett, for her students and for all PFT members, who feared retaliation for speaking out on behalf of students and schools during a tumultuous period of change,” PFT President Jerry T. Jordan said.
“This settlement reinforces our belief that PFT members have the right to voice their concerns about workplace issues without threat of retribution or intimidation from their employer.
“PFT members are professionals, who care deeply about their students and the future of public education. With many fiscal, legislative and ideological challenges facing public education, it is imperative that educators have the ability to participate openly in any community dialogue on how to improve student outcomes for all Philadelphia children.”
PFT files for injunction in Moffett termination case
District agrees to halt temporarily disciplinary proceedings against teacher who spoke out against converting Audenried HS to a charter school.
PFT President Jerry T. Jordan went to federal court in Philadelphia today to file for injunctive relief in the case of Hope Moffett, an Audenried High School English teacher who has been outspoken about the conversion of Audenried to a charter school.
The district agreed to take no further action with respect to any future disciplinary proceedings in Hope Moffett's case until a preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled and completed.
The injunction is being sought in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. No hearing date is set.
“The suit is being filed on behalf of all PFT members to protect their right to speak freely, without fear of retaliation or intimidation by the district,” Jordan said. "I urge all PFT members to come out to the PFT's Stand Up for Public Schools Rally on Monday, March 14, at 4 p.m., at 440 N. Broad St. to speak with one voice."
Read the Lawsuit.
Read the PFT Brief in Support of the Lawsuit.
Proceedings against Moffett delayed after PFT goes to federal court
Mar 10 2011
Update: Proceedings that could lead to Hope Moffett's dismissal are delayed until a hearing on the PFT's request for a permanent injunction.
The District issued a statement saying:
"Today the School District of Philadelphia was served with injunction papers by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and at the request of the judge both parties agreed to participate in a hearing on this matter next week. The judge has asked the parties to maintain status quo until the hearing."
PFT President Jerry T. Jordan is in federal court now in Philadelphia seeking to halt dismissal proceedings against Audenried High School English teacher Hope Moffett.
“The suit is being filed on behalf of all PFT members to protect their right to speak freely, without fear of retaliation or intimidation by the district,” Jordan said in a statement sent to reporters.
The School District is moving to fire Moffett, saying that she endangered students by giving them tokens that they used to travel to a protest during school hours against the planned conversion of their school to a charter. School officials have denied that the swift action against her has anything to do with her outspoken opposition to the charter plan, and said they have more evidence against her than they have shared.
The PFT is seeking a temporary restraining order from a judge. In cases like this, sometimes a a judge will hear the case right away and make a ruling immediately, but that is not guaranteed.
At a hearing earlier this week, school officials indicated that the School Reform Commission would vote on the dismissal as early as Wednesday.
The injunction is being sought in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, at 601 Market Street.
The union is also planning a mass protest.
"I urge all PFT members to come out to the PFT's Stand Up for Public Schools Rally on Monday, March 14, at 4 p.m., at 440 N. Broad St. to speak with one voice," Jordan's statement concludes.
We will continue to update this breaking story.
Source URL: http://www.thenotebook.org/blog/113433/pft-goes-federal-court-behalf-hope
We will not be intimidated
I learned last night that two teachers from Audenreid High School received letters from the School District ordering them to report to the High School Academic Division office this morning (Friday, Feb. 18). At another school, a principal said he was told by the Administration to warn teachers that they will be disciplined if they encourage students to engage in peaceful civil discourse about the future of their schools and, by extension, by their communities.
I will not allow our teachers to be abused and intimidated in this way and will use every legal means at our disposal to protect them.
How dare the district send hard-working, dedicated teachers to the equivalent of a “rubber room.” How dare the district target the very teachers who have demonstrated their commitment to working with students in the toughest neighborhoods and schools. This is an insult to our teachers, and an insult to the students.
These high school students – young adults – care about their school and their community. And when they could not obtain adequate information from the School District about why their school is being turned over to an outside company or on what basis this decision was made – students turned to their parents and teachers to help them understand what is happening around them.
We do not know yet why these passionate educators have been removed from their classrooms, but if it is because they spoke to students about how, in a democratic society, we make our voices heard, the PFT will defend its members with every tool available.