A public hearing meant to address a local school district’s decision to not renew a teaching contract was cancelled after the teacher submitted her resignation instead.
The Sioux County School Board unanimously accepted Elizabeth de’Medici’s resignation last week during a special meeting. She started as the district’s seventh and eighth grade teacher last fall, but was removed from the classroom March 1 and informed of the district’s intent to not renew her contract prior to the statutory deadline of April 15.
Sioux County Schools require all probationary teachers to be evaluated once each semester, with deficiencies in their teaching methods noted. They must also be given time to improve, said Superintendent Dr. Brett Gies.
“If the improvements aren’t met, then we take appropriate action,” he said.
Once a notice of non-renewal is issued, teachers can either submit a letter of resignation or request a public hearing. de’Medici requested the hearing before the full school board, but one day before it was scheduled to take place agreed to submit her letter of resignation in exchange for 15 minutes to address the board.
She told the board she was impressed by the students at Sioux County Public Schools, and had hoped to continue teaching in the district.
“But I was found not to be a good fit,” she said. de’Medici said she believed there were issues that should have been addressed differently by the district’s administration, citing concerns over a lack of “curriculum guides.”
“Without a curriculum guide a teacher is pretty much left to do with what they think is right,” she said.
Smaller districts like Sioux County, however, often don’t have curriculum guides as they exist in larger districts, Dr. Gies said after the meeting. Instead, the board adopts the Nebraska State Standards, and each teacher receives updates on the most critical standards within that list. Teachers then develop their lesson plans based on comparisons between the standards and the approved textbooks for their classrooms, Dr. Gies said.
de’Medici also alleged that she was treated differently than other teachers when she entered grades late, and upon leaving work after falling ill one day. She explained that she left work after getting sick during a brief break from a math curriculum review committee meeting. Upon seeing that the meeting, which included a video conference call with a vendor, was already in progress, she elected to leave the building without informing anyone rather than interrupt the meeting.
While district administration had the option to speak at last week’s board meeting, no one from the administration team did so. The district’s seventh and eighth grade classroom currently has a substitute teacher.