Teacher: Not above reprimand, but calls letter unfair

By Kay Hoffer

  In a one-page letter to the Terry Tribune, fifth grade teacher Susan Tyler sheds light on events that took place prior to a letter of reprimand being placed in her teaching file. 

Due to personnel privacy rights issues, school officials could disclose few specifics surrounding the disciplinary action that has led to the school’s recent decision to move forward with arbitration.
In her letter to the editor, published in this week’s Tribune, Tyler describes how an oversight on her part led to an envelope of cash and personal checks to not be submitted to the school office in a timely manner. Tyler describes discovering the envelope in May, 2013, five months after the money had been raised through the sales of sports buttons, which benefit the school’s Accelerated Readers Program. She then describes turning in the envelope by leaving it in a mailbox at the high school office.
After being notified in August that the envelope of checks and cash had just been discovered in the high school office, Tyler recalls being informed that too much time had elapsed so the checks would not be used. Rather than notifying each check writer, requesting a new check, Tyler said she tore up the checks and threw them away. She then wrote a personal check of her own and reimbursed the program for those funds that would have been raised through the discarded checks.
Although specifics within the letter of reprimand were not disclosed, Tyler did question the reasoning behind the reprimand of “destroying (school) district property” by her action of tearing up the checks, since the checks were no longer of use to the school.
Tyler, who has been with Terry Schools since 1991, said she is embarrassed by the entire situation. Tyler said she has maintained her silence since the letter of reprimand was first issued in October of last year, but said recent events led her to give her side of the story.
“I just want people to know what happened,” she said.
The Terry School Board’s solidarity behind Superintendent Casey Klasna’s decision to reprimand Tyler was demonstrated in two recent unanimous decisions made by the board — one in December denying a request to have the letter removed from Tyler’s teaching file and again at a January 8 special meeting when the board voted to move forward with arbitration, after the Terry Teachers Association filed for an appeal requesting the letter be removed from Tyler’s file. Rich Batterman has been hired to represent the school in the matter.
School officials declined to comment on Tyler’s response, noting the matter is going before arbitration.
Tyler disputes claims that she sees herself above reprimand but describes the letter given to her as unfair.
“I was surprised that it was going in my teaching file, because it had nothing to do with my teaching,” Tyler said. She believes she has taken full responsibility for her mistake by writing a personal check that covered the funds raised through the torn-up checks, noting the school program lost no money.
Tyler said she wants the letter of reprimand to either be removed from her teaching file or rewritten, but concluded mostly, “I want it to be over with.”

Published January 22, 2014

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