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Crowd wants WMRSD Supt. Fensom to renominate P.E. teacher Richardson


April 16, 2014
LANCASTER — Feelings ran high among the 60 or so members of the public who turned out at WMRSD board meeting on Monday evening seeking a way that would allow fourth-year non-tenured P. E. teacher Doug Richardson to come back for his fifth year of teaching at the Lancaster School.

An even bigger crowd had come to last Monday's board meeting to support renewing Richardson's teaching contract. Word had circulated around town that his contract would not be renewed and that his name would not be on the list of 118 teachers that SAU #36 Interim Superintendent Dr. Harry Fensom gave the board for re-nomination before April 15 — the date by which those not re-nominated must be notified.

School board chairman Greg Odell told those on hand — students, parents and retirees — that there was no action the board could take that could give a non-renominated teacher a contract.

"The Superintendent nominates teachers, and the school board elects them," Odell explained. "The school board does not have the authority either to order the Superintendent to nominate or to elect a teacher the Superintendent has declined to nominate."

He read aloud a statement from school attorney Barbara Loughman: "A continuing contract teacher … who has taught for 5 consecutive years in the District … is entitled to statement of reasons and a hearing with the school board after receiving notice of non-renewal (non-renomination) from the superintendent.

"A teacher (such as Richardson) who has not achieved continuing contract status is not entitled to either a statement of reasons or a hearing with a school board after receiving notice of non-renewal from the superintendent."

Several people said Richardson is an excellent teacher who goes "above and beyond" what's expected and reaches every student.

Some adults attacked Fensom, suggesting that his not renewing Richardson was a form of political retaliation because his father, former school board member Rep. Herb Richardson, wrote a Letter to the Editor criticizing him.

One person called him a bully.

Richardson has filed a grievance, explained teachers union spokesman Jay Tolman.

He outlined this process that could lead ultimately to final and binding arbitration as well as his concern that the board and Fensom had made some missteps, including holding an executive session in which "an overview" of Richardson was discussed.

Doug Richardson said that the public could look at his personnel file, including evaluations. "I've nothing to hide," he said. But Tolman noted that it would be wise for anyone interested to get Richardson's written permission that's notarized.

In other action, the board decided to reply to an inquiry by CTE specialist Lisa Danley at DOE's Career Development Bureau that it would expects to be ready to propose a $12 million modified or revised CTE project at WMRHS in the first year of the 2017-2018 biennium, with a District vote the next year, March 2018.

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