The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

September 3, 2013

UPDATED: Fears fired at Otwell Elementary

(Continued)

PETERSBURG —

The document said teachers at Otwell "were concerned" about the evaluations. Starting last year, teacher statewide were evaluated with the RISE Program and evaluations and pay are tied to teacher performance.

In 2010, the findings of fact document says, Fears allegedly requested a secretary to alter and falsify attendance records of 15 students, changing them from absent to present. The secretary, who was not named, refused, and the document said Fears altered the records himself.

Fears also allegedly, the document said, asked the secretary to mark specific students as "withdrawn," in attendance records and later classify the student as "newly enrolled" when the student returned. The change in the records would look better for the school, the document said.

Also included in the findings of fact document was the release of the state's IRead 3 test results before they were allowed to be released. It also said Fears publicized test results with student names.

Phillips said Tuesday they are prepared to go to court to defend Fears' work while at Otwell. 

"I think there will be an opportunity for people to see there was a dual standard in this corporation and certain administrators are treated differently from others," Phillips said. "Obviously when we file suit, there will be references to what was said and done that were just flat-out untrue."

Teachers, many wearing blue to represent Otwell Elementary, were in attendance Tuesday. Fears spoke to many of them after the meeting, but the teachers and staff members did not want to comment publicly. One male in attendance told board members after the meeting "you guys ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

Last month, the board named Jim Isaacs as interim principal at the school. Otwell Elementary was one of the best elementary schools in the state while Fears was principal, earning state Four-Star School status in three of the past four years. The school was also named a Blue-Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011.

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