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Teachers remarks 'shocked' Bartlett

June 06, 2000|By TARA REILLY

Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett said Tuesday he was "shocked" and "hurt" that teachers who attended a meeting with the Board of Education Monday said they were intimidated by him and feared reprimands if they voiced their concerns.

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Bartlett said he has never lashed out at any teacher for disagreeing with his educational beliefs or practices.

"I'm straight-forward and open, and if I don't believe something you say, I'll tell you," Bartlett said Tuesday. "But I don't do that to intimidate people. I don't think that's appropriate."

Teachers who met Monday with School Board members said some faculty members have been verbally reprimanded by Bartlett for publicly disagreeing with him.

They said Bartlett makes discouraging remarks about teacher quality and that they fear they could lose their jobs or be transferred for making their worries known.

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Bartlett said he was unaware teachers felt intimidated and encouraged them to sit down and talk with him about their concerns.

"I'm really astonished at what happened," he said. "I am shocked. I've been given a clear direction by the board, and I haven't tried to run over people to do it. You know how many teachers I've reprimanded? Zero."

Bartlett praised the quality of education in Washington County and said he's proud of student performance on the MSPAP and that SAT scores have improved.

"I feel really good about the progress we've made," he said.

Bartlett said he has been making it a point to visit all county schools to talk with faculty members about school progress and answer questions teachers might have.

Bartlett said he meets once a month with teachers on the Common Sense Committee and with Sharon Chirgott, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, and attends an open forum called Coffee and Conversation with teachers and parents.

No one has mentioned the intimidation concern during these meetings, he said.

"I really tried to be inclusive, so I guess I'm more hurt about this than anything else," Bartlett said.

He said the teachers who spoke out at Monday's meeting don't represent the majority of the 1,400 teachers in the county. About 30 teachers attended the meeting.

"I think we're working hard and doing a good job," he said. "The teacher turnout speaks for itself."

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