teacher excellence

4 petitions

Update posted 4 weeks ago

Petition to Jim Balmer

Mr. Balmer, we need you!

                       The Winter Concert will never be the same! Jim Balmer has been teaching at Fairfield Country Day School more than 20 years. He has created our current music program and directed countless flawless musicals, incredible concerts, and stunning international tours to Europe. He, along with his wife Mary Nelson truly give the music program at FCDS that special spark. They exemplify core values of FCDS: “Integrity, Scholarship and Respect” and expect their students to do the same. This is all about to change. Mr. Balmer has announced that he will be leaving Fairfield Country Day School and I know we will all miss him. Students, parents, alumni, and colleagues of Mr. Balmer all know and have seen his everlasting dedication to his work. His passion for what he does and for pushing his students to their maximum potential brings out the best in everyone he affects. Let’s convince Mr. Balmer to stay at Country Day. With enough support on this petition we may be able to ask Mr. Balmer to reconsider, or at the very least honor him as he leaves. His work at FCDS will forever be unparalleled and the impact he has had on our community is immeasurable. Show your support of Mr. Balmer and Ms. Nelson by signing this petition and sharing a special moment with Mr. Balmer and Ms. Nelson or a way they changed you or your son’s life by leaving a comment. They have changed the lives of the many students they have taught, and we can help them to change the lives of many more. Sign and share this petition to help it gain traction. Let’s keep Mr. Balmer and Ms. Nelson. Together we can do it.  

231 supporters
Started 3 years ago

Petition to Martez Hill, Department of Education, D. Craig Horn, Jeffrey Elmore, Linda Johnson, Tricia Cotham, Edward Hanes, Jr., North Carolina Governor, Audrey Martin-McCoy, Rob Jansen

Keep teachers whose parental rights have been terminated by CPS out of the Classroom.

Currently, unlike over 30 states and the District of Columbia, North Carolina does not require, or even allow, review of Department of Social Services - Child Protective  Service records for K-12 teachers and other child care workers. Background checks that require confidential CPS records review may reveal that the teaching candidate has lost parental rights to a child for abuse, neglect or endangerment. The hindrance to further protecting our state's children from those deemed by the state unfit to parent is found under G.S. 7B-3100 et. al., Disclosure of Information about Juveniles. Currently, under the regulations, schools may only request DSS records in reference to a specific child enrolled in their school. This should be expanded to include a requirement of review of any such records for a state license of teachers and be a requirement for hiring teachers or child-facing employees of all of schools and child care centers in the state. A common practice of DSS offices across the state is to make a “deal” to not press criminal charges under Child Abuse as a Felony (G.S. 14-318.4) in exchange for a voluntary action to sever all parental rights to the victim-child. This means there may be no criminal arrest or conviction that will appear on a conventional background check! Like many parents, I had assumed that North Carolina was checking into all possible sources that would reveal a history of child abuse and endangerment, and even drug addiction, because so many states do. Our neighbor, Virginia, for example, makes all of its schools request and review all Department of Social Services records involving any applicant. In Pennsylvania, teachers must request a protective services check be sent to the Department of Education as part of their teaching certification and all subsequent renewals. Indeed, expanding the licensure requirements of North Carolina educators is not a new area of concern to our state legislature. Perhaps you recall the Task Force on Teacher Ethics and Licensure Report: Raising the Bar for North Carolina Teachers, published on February 25, 2010.  The intent of the DJJ statute in question is to keep state files involving minor children private, understandably, to protect the privacy of the children who suffer abuse and are the subject of Department of Social Services intervention. It does not, nor does any other law in North Carolina, require local school administration to request and review Department of Social Services case or other records involving a teaching candidate (or current teacher) to ensure the individual is morally fit, and physically safe to lead a classroom (or even be employed at school facilities). Background checks on teachers are handled at the local school district level in North Carolina (a practice that is uncommon among states that rank the highest in education). In a random poll I conducted under FOIA of 6 North Carolina school districts, all schools reported using at least a basic criminal background check service on all applicants, however, none of them reported having requested social services records, or even asking if one existed, that could uncover a history of child abuse, endangerment or neglect – because our state doesn’t yet provide for or require one. This is where I need your help! You can decide how our state should best address this gap and fix it!  North Carolina is behind the curve in providing statutes, regulations, and protocols for solid background checks that ensure the moral and physical safety standards in the classroom that parents expect, and that employers and investors demand if they are going to bring needed capital and jobs to our state. School districts, can, and are, hiring people to teach our children who are willing to give up their child in exchange for the opportunity to, essentially, morally defraud the school system and the communities they serve about their criminal behavior.  Surely our schools wouldn't hire someone convicted of the criminal offense, but our school administrators (and the children they serve) have no protection against those found guilty of the same actions as the felony crime by an agency other than the Department of Justice.  Take the following scenario for an example of the incongruous nature of our current regulatory rule in practice: The police are called to a residence. Once there they witness the heartless endangerment, neglect or abuse of a young child by its parent. The police charge the responsible parent with child endangerment and the case goes to trial. The parent is found guilty of Child Abuse as a Felony under G.S. 14-318.4, and parental rights are terminated. Under our current state rules, it is highly unlikely that this parent will be hired as a teacher.  However, take the exact same residence and facts of abuse except that Department of Social Services, not police, are called to the scene. Let's say they have been called to the same residence, about the same child and parent, multiple times. Imagine further that the systematic endangerment of the child is documented through an extensive social services investigation and intervention process. With all of the evidence in hand, the social worker, with the best long-term interest of the child in mind and heart, offers the parent a deal. If the unfit parent willingly gives up custody of the child, agreeing to the termination of all parental rights, and allows the child to be adopted, then no criminal charges will be filed. This parent can, and has been, hired in this state.   Please make one of your 2017 priorities keeping teachers whose parental rights have been terminated as a result of Child Protective Services intervention out of North Carolina classrooms and child care centers! 

Frances-Ann Criffield
42 supporters