Teacher's Union Responds to Edison Grade Change Investigation

November 19, 2008 8:30:06 PM PST
The FTA calls the district's findings outrageous and says Superintendent Michael Hanson is attempting to taint teacher Jeff Powell's reputation. The union believes Hanson owes Powell an apology and owes the community an explanation."Mr. Powell had no reason to lie." Fresno Teachers Association president Greg Gadams is refuting much of what superintendent Michael Hanson said Tuesday-- regarding the districts investigation into grade changing at Edison high school.

"They can find what they want to find--- they hired these people," says Gadams. "And they can release a lot of this data to you but they haven't."

According to the district-- teacher Jeff Powell was the only person who could have changed the student in question's grade from an F to an A-- even though it was Powell who reported the unauthorized change to school administrators.

"Absolutely no evidence exists to suggest that anybody other than the teacher changed this grade," said Superintendent Michael Hanson on Tuesday.

Gadams says administrators have access to all teacher passwords and asserts Powell's laptop went missing from his classroom on more than one occasion. "He did catch the principal and vice-principal in his room one day when the laptop was there-- and they had no reason to be there, they were not there to meet with him-- he walked in on them."

Gadams says 12 teachers at Edison have reported similar unauthorized grade changes in the past-- but the incidents have not been investigated by the administration. He says 55 of Powell's colleagues have signed a petition asking that Powell-- who was placed on paid administrative leave-- be reinstated, but those teachers are afraid to speak publicly for fear of retaliation. "They wanted to do an informational display-- like a picket in support of Powell but they were afraid to go out even before school for 10 minutes for fear of them coming after them."

The FTA is now asking for a grand jury investigation into the matter ... And they also want the student in question's grade to be changed back to an "F", making him ineligible to play football.

Superintendent Michael Hanson declined to comment on the issue today.

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