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New London fires teacher for poor job performance

New London - The Board of Education terminated the contract of a tenured middle school language arts teacher on Thursday.

After meeting in a second executive session on the matter, the board approved the termination of Claudia Kenyon's teaching contract with a 6-0 vote. Board member Barbara Major was absent.

"This is a direct result of the first year of the new teacher evaluation system, which was a complete changeover from what was in place," New London Education Association President Rich Baez said Thursday.

He said Kenyon was switched from teaching language arts to social studies in the 2010-11 school year. Her teacher certification allowed her to teach social studies, but it was the first time she had taught the subject, Baez said. He claimed the district did not allow her enough time to adjust to the new curriculum.

Her evaluations before 2010 were stellar, he said.

Baez said arbitration on her termination began approximately three years ago and that Kenyon is not currently teaching in the New London Public Schools.

The district's revised evaluation plan, which was adopted by the board in August 2010, was a Structured Assistance Plan, which consists of three levels of intensive assistance provided to the teacher. Each level of the structured assistance plan carries additional responsibilities and requirements for a teacher to become eligible to come off the plan. For teachers who have been identified as struggling, there are options for extra support.

Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer said Thursday that Kenyon was terminated because she did not meet the standards for effective teacher performance.

"She received extremely intensive assistance and observation and admitted in several instances that there were areas she needed assistance in," Fischer said. "Despite the assistance we offered, she did not meet the expectations for effective teacher performance."

Connecticut Education Association lawyers Christopher Hankins and Melanie Kolek represented Kenyon.

Hankins said Kenyon is out of the country attending to a family matter.

"Throughout this whole thing, she handled herself with dignity. She is a very honorable woman and is one of the quality teachers in New London," Baez said. "They put her in a position where she was set up to fail. The district really lost out. We need someone with her experience."

According to state statutes for termination of tenured teachers, school boards must show reasons of inefficiency or incompetence; insubordination against reasonable rules of the board; and other due and sufficient cause.

Hankins said Kenyon was terminated for other due and sufficient cause.


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