Gadsden Teachers Union President Says Principal Axed Contracts Without Following Evaluation Process

May 15, 2018

This document was given to Judith Mandela, a 12-year veteran teacher in Gadsden County Schools and its Teacher of the Year, as notice that her contract isn't being renewed.
Credit Courtesy Ronte Harris

The president of Gadsden County’s teachers union is taking issue with one district school’s practice of booting new and veteran teachers. He says even the county’s Teacher of the Year did not have her contract renewed.

Ronte Harris leads the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers Association. He says the principal of James A. Shanks Middle School didn’t renew teacher contracts for the coming school year, despite not following an evaluation process approved by the school board. Harris says one teacher he’s spoken with alleges she had as few as one principal’s visit during the year.

"We recognize the fact that Gadsden hires individuals who may or may not come from colleges of education. We recognize that we do have to seek out individuals and bring them into the classroom," Harris said. "So we recognize there is a dire need for a strong support system for new teachers."

Harris is doubly concerned, given the district’s history of difficulty in recruiting and retaining educators. Gadsden schools pay the second lowest rate of salary in the state.

Harris says Gadsden’s most recent Teacher of the Year, Judith Mandela, was not reappointed at the middle school. Mandela is vice president for Gadsden’s teachers union. Gadsden Superintendent Roger Milton did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

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