The district has confirmed that Patty Polifrone will begin teaching language arts and social science at Graham Middle School when class resumes in August.
Parents told the Voice in March that they had been complaining for months to Mountain View Whisman district administrators about Polifrone's teaching style. At the time, during a school board meeting at Huff, some parents said they did not want Polifrone to return, and a few said their children were scared to go to her class. But other parents defended the teacher, saying their children had learned a lot from her and that she was a "strict teacher but fair."
Following the meeting, Polifrone left Huff. Administrators said only that she was on "personal leave," adding that legally they were not able to discuss the case. School Principal Sharon Burns sent out a letter to parents calling Polifrone's departure "a difficult decision for all involved."
There is a specific dismissal procedure for tenured teachers, according to Dina Martin, a spokesperson for the California Teachers Association. Before his or her hearing, the teacher hears the "statement of charges." Then a decision is made by a three-member panel composed of an administrative law judge, a school administrator and a teacher who teaches the same subject at a different school.
The accused teacher can then appeal the ruling at the Superior Court level, Martin said.
Superintendent Maurice Ghysels said that as part of district procedure, teachers are assigned to specific schools and classes after administrators make a list of all "personnel placements" and the board approves or rejects this list. The board does not necessarily examine the list on a case-by-case basis: During a June 4 board meeting, a trustee asked about Polifrone, and administrators confirmed that she will be returning to the district this fall.
At the most recent board meeting on Tuesday, a crying student told trustees that he had traumatic experiences in Polifrone's class at Huff. The student, who is entering Graham as a sixth grader in the fall, said he was scared he might again get Polifrone as a teacher.
Under district policies, a parent can request that a child not have a specific teacher, Ghysels said. The school's principal makes the final decision.