a teacher who LAUSD put on administrative leave for 2 years because of allegations of sexual harassment of a fellow teacher, is guilty or not, but clearly reporter Jason Song doesn't know either and really doesn't seem to care. Being in a similar situation to Mr. Shelden, I have had 7 hours a day for the last 3 months to not spend "the day napping, watching television, taking walks and lifting weights," but rather researching and writing a minimum of 5 articles a week mostly about the corruption and incompetence that Reporter Jason Song must also be all too aware of, but never seems to get around to reporting.
On Saturday, I went to the 14th LAUSD Parents Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center to pass out flyers about perdaily. I had an opportunity to talk with parents who found two facts very interest:
1. That LAUSD has over a 50% drop out rate before graduation;
2. Their children substantiated that their classes were being held hostage by students who were continually disruptive of the class with no discipline allowed by the teachers or support from the administration.
Many of the predominantly Latino parents shared their frustrations and fears with me about the future of their children. Like my grandparents, they had come to this country for a better life and were now panicked by an LAUSD education that was far worst than what their children could have gotten in Mexico and the other countries they came from. Because many spoke little or no English, they felt that they were not taken serious.
Jason Song's colleague Mitchell Landsberg, also covered the LAUSD education beat for the L.A. Times before being shifted to religion. He was very knowledgeable about what was going on at LAUSD, which he told me "more resembled a MASH triage unit" than it did a school district administration -- but somehow these stories are never reported in the L.A. Times. In addition to writing for www.perdaily.com, which keeps me so busy that I rarely have time to take a lunch break, I read education news posts from around the country where it is not too difficult to see the concerted campaign against teachers that papers like the L.A. Times have jumped on the bandwagon with. While teachers have little to say about how school districts are run, they have been condemned in mass by the media and school district in a disengenuous attempt to scapegoat teachers who are logically not the problem.
While I do not defend all teachers and have worked with many who are burnouts or worse, I think the vast majority of teachers are dedicated and would do even a greater job, if they were allowed to do so by administrators whose long standing marching orders from LAUSD are to allow unacceptable student behavior and require no rigor from students in a never ending quest to maintain Average Daily Attendance and the money it bring from the state at any cost. Ironically, the worst teachers are the ones that get along best with administration and receive no charges, reprimands, or suspensions, because they don't rock the leaky LAUSD boat.
In looking at the outrageous behavior of my own Principal Janet Seary, AP Rene Martinez, their superiors Janice Davis, LAUSD Staff Relations employees Ignacio Garcia and David Vidaurrazaga, and Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his Chief of Staff Jim Morris, I could never understand why they all felt that they could act in the most outrageous manner toward me and others in trumping up charges and ignoring all the evidence that I have produced to show that there was no substance to any of the charges.
Several days ago, my question was answered, I was contact by one of the other 160 other teachers on administrative leave who sent me the following citation from the California Government Çode 821.6:
"A public employee is not liable for injury caused by his instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of his employment, even if he acts maliciously and without probable cause."
While teacher Thomas Shelden's judgment leaves something to be desired in allowing his picture to be taken with him resting on his bed with a meal tray next to him, which has got to piss off people who have to work hard at their jobs, it does not in and of itself give justification for him to have been dismissed by a preponderance of the evidence. Giving full pay and benefits to 160 teachers for no work is not the teachers idea and while some of these teachers should be no where near students, I suspect that the purpose of administrative leave for teachers like myself is to punish not to protect students or other teachers. In my case, I will continue to work for real reform of LAUSD.
While I have never told a student to shut up or ridiculed a student in front of the class as Mr. Shelden is accused of doing, I wonder what any teacher is supposed to do with willful defiance and open refusal to work or allow anybody else in the class to work, when administrators' only answer is to tell the teacher to continually call parents, when it is obvious that many of the parents, themselves the product of failed LAUSD education, could care less what their children are doing in school to the teachers and the other students who have a right to a great education.
What makes me tend to think that there is a greater chance of Mr. Shelden being innocent than guilt is lack of specificity in the unsubstantiated libelous charges against him that are designed to inflame rather than specifically charge him with improper actions. In my case, many of the people who are cited by my administrators in support of their case against me have actually given me statements that these charges are false. Alas, with Government Code Section 821.6 it is easy to understand why LAUSD administrators continue to have no regard for the truth, but as for Jason Song and the L.A. Times there is no excuse. Song's ending the article with, "The time he spent away from the classroom will count toward his pension and retirement, benefits, according to district officials" is clearly designed to inflame the reader by completing the subtext of Song's covert thesis that the teacher is an incompetent, sponging off the honest taxpaying L.A. Times reader, who should be irate. What I can do is cancel my subscription to the Times and encourage the rest of you to do the same if you still believe in unbias reporting.