A last-ditch attempt to push Atlanta educators accused of cheating off the payroll has so far failed to convince many to resign, partly because they have little incentive to go.
Melvin Goldstein speaks to the media after his clients had a hearing with APS officials regarding test cheating on Feb. 23, 2012.
That means taxpayers will be on the hook for what is shaping up to be a costly firing process. The district has spent $6.2 million paying the salaries of suspended educators, an expense that increases $600,000 a month. Legal fees have cost the district at least $700,000 and will likely climb as APS attorneys work to build cases against about 120 educators still on the payroll. Those fired may be entitled to employment hearings, which average $9,000 a person.
Last week, APS met with about 60 educators who face the most egregious allegations to put an offer on the table: Quit now and avoid receiving a “charge letter,” the first step in the firing process, and one that can stain an educator’s career. Five educators have taken the deal, according to APS.
Other employees are considering the offer, said a district spokesman. APS said expected it would take some employees time to make a decision. In the meantime, the district plans to issue charge letters on a case-by-case basis. Superintendent Erroll Davis said Friday the district will start with those who confessed, and other egregious cases.
“If in fact they have done these things, if in fact the conclusions are inevitable, I think the benefits of resigning would outweigh the benefits of staying on the payroll for a couple of months,” he said.
But it is unclear is why accused educators would quit rather than challenge APS to prove the charges against them.
Educators have job protection rights, meaning they can only be fired for eight reasons and it’s up to the school district to prove their guilt. They can request a hearing to challenge the firing and can appeal the decision up to the state Supreme Court. Members of teacher advocacy groups like the Georgia Association of Educators have access to legal aid, which covers attorney fees during this process.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution | Jaime Sarrio