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Controversial teacher reassigned to Graham

Original post made on Jun 21, 2009

A former fourth-grade teacher at Huff Elementary School, who left the school last spring after some parents complained that she was "verbally abusive" to her students, will be returning to the district this fall to teach sixth graders.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Concerned adult
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Aren't there any rights for children to be free of harassment and intimidation? Is the preservation of the adult's job paramount? This is completely non-sensical. My advice to the involved parents at this point would be to file a police report should any further incidents arise. It is clear that the children are suffering under Ms. P's tenure and are being intimidated and are fearful. This is no environment for learning. Should this or any other teacher shout, dump out or throw a child's belongings on the floor or desk, call someone a name, raise her voice excessively, etc, a police report should be filed which alleges harassment, abuse, or whatever the appropriate charge is that fits the situation. This is obviously the only way to stop this process in its tracks. Otherwise she will teach forever unobstructed in the Mountain View Whisman District.

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Posted by Bar Room Lawyer
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 21, 2009 at 9:40 pm

The problem here and with other stories on the schools this week is that the people in charge of the schools aren't really doing their jobs. They're just putting up the front that they are. They claim to handle personnel matters correctly and document problems, but they never really do. They claim to conduct thorough and complete hiring processes, but they never really do. If you've ever worked in a position in a government agency, you would konw what I'm talking about. Even more so with this school district since the paper seems to take everything at face value, never assuming they just might be getting played. Sound all too familiar?

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Posted by Proof is in the pudding
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm


Hilarious. Check out this link folks and expand the photo.

Web Link

August 26th 2005 back issue of the Voice. Ms. P. on the front page photo wacking a kid on the head with a book. I remember the wave of horror that ran through Huff at the time when this issue hit the stands. We all thought, of all the teachers to get a picture of. I could swear that Mr. Goldman at the time who was principal ran for cover at the time. Nothing like bad press.

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Posted by Father of Three
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm

My problem with all this is that these things are linked only when school gets out, making it more difficult for us to organize into action. Wrong and deceptive management does inspire my confidence.

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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2009 at 11:16 pm

All this surprise people? Just wait until class size reduction is axed and 30 plus kids per classroom in the lower grades make this teacher look like a fairy princess. And let us not forget the stagnate salaries for teachers won't exactly be a clarion for quality.

As far as those resposible for not managing this mess, well the chickens have finally come home to roost.

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Posted by Tina Cortinas
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2009 at 11:24 pm

To: Proof is in the pudding
The photo with Patty Polifrone and my son Alex is not hilarious, it's cute.
I think your ultimate goal here was to put a face with the name.
I was there at Huff and as I recall there was no "wave of horror" at Huff after the publication of the photo.
Before you decide to bash a photo that the parents of the child have no problem with, speak only of what you know.
Patty Polifrone taught my son Alex 2 years prior to this photo being taken. She already knew my son and felt comfortable with him. If anyone should be concerned as to whether or not the photo is inappropriate are his parents. We thought the photo was cute and have saved it......seems like your bored and need a hobby.

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Posted by Proof is in the pudding
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Relax Tina, it's called irony and its both cute and humorous. I recall the reaction to the photo quite differently, also one of irony, which maybe is the wording I should have used. The photo is in a newspaper and open to public commment. Question the goal of the Voice if you want to vent some anger. None of this ever should have gone to press. Basing a story and the aftermath on hearsay. I'm with you on that point.

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Posted by renee
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 21, 2009 at 11:51 pm

this town needs another scandal to focus on

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Posted by Alex Cortinas
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm

In response to the pudding lady. I am the person in the photo with Mrs. P. and I honestly cannot believe how doltish and pointless your comment is. Do you really have absolutely nothing better to do with your boring life? I do recall that first day of school and the Scary Larry taking the photograph, and Mrs. P. was reading the book, "The Teacher From the Black Lagoon". I don't quite remember what the book was about, but Mrs. Polifrone's actions pretained to what was occurring in the scene and was not hitting me with it. Anyways, get your facts right before you accuse people of wrong doing. By the way, both years I had Mrs. P, I really enjoyed it. Unless, you were a student in her class, you can't veritably say what kind of teacher she is. Also, dont tell my mother to relax.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Let's focus on the issue at hand. The photo link is somewhat ironic. Just as a hatchet job was done on the reputation of what many have experienced to be a fine teacher, perhaps we need to focus on the people in charge. Where does the buck stop in the district and why aren't these the ones being held accountable?

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Ms. P was a great teacher for my son. This is all just a lot of puffery. I find it appalling that the administration is leaving her hanging out to dry. Cowards.

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Posted by CL
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 25, 2009 at 6:44 am

This does present itself as more a topic of lack of administration and less one of a controversial teacher. We are left with the impression that the administration is invisible and powerless. I doubt that is possible.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Nothing will change until the community stands up, gets involved and says enough is enough!

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Posted by wow!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Wow! It sure will stir the pot! Bigger pot!

Anyone from the district ever listen to the Voices in the VOICE?

How can a district to avoid children's helpless feeling about teacher’s abusive behavior?

Why the school district treats the teacher abusing and parent abusing differently? School teaches students to call 911 for home abusing, not only physical but also verbal abusing, Should parents teach their children the same? Should we have our children stand up at front line to fight for this case? Is there a police report on this case? Is there a prove, written document that Mrs. P would control her verbal style at Graham, or we are putting our children on the surgery table for the experimenting. There’s a long history about Mrs. P’s behavior from Slater to Huff, no one would think she will change over night.

This time the voices will not be only from K to Grade4, but to Grade5, and 6th, 7th and 8th graders. They all will face Mrs. P sooner or later. May not be in her class, but will be at school.

She knows who the trouble children to her, so will she do or say anything back to them at school? I mean anything.

Every school principal will be on teacher’s side to support teachers without asking much about what happening when any teacher reports to office about a student’s behavior. Why? Because principal hire the teacher, if teacher got blamed, it means principal got the same blame. To hire Mrs. P to Graham is not only the principal's decision, it may be the pressure from school district. School district hired the principal. See the train now?

We can not predict what would happen in the comming year. Why school district would put our children on such a risk? Will this force us to transfer our children to other schools in such a short notice? Only one month before school starts.

This will put school back in a battle field again. Maybe parents should write letters to White House, and report the case to Obama and force to remove the 2yrs of the teacher’s protection. This protection is WRONG, whoever created this teacher protection would think how can a teacher be wrong.

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Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

From the original letter, I am trying to understand the procedures of hiring a teacher according to Superintendent Maurice Ghysels; the procedures of dismissal procedure for tenured teachers, according to a spokesperson for the California Teachers Association. Dina Martin; how the board review Mrs. P. Are they doing their jobs?

The decision was made before June 4th. Was there an anouncement delivered to the community before school ends?

I am also trying to understand the power of the tenured teachers. Any web documents? I can't believe that abusive teacher is protected under the tenured teacher law.

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Posted by Just Another Opinion
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 17, 2009 at 8:17 am

Tenured teachers are protected as long as the administration stands mutely by and does not make efforts proactively to observe the behavior of the teacher. document parent complaints, follow through formally and informally with all parties concerned. The end result is pressure applied to the situation which forces the teacher to adjust their behavior and attitude. The power of the administrators is grossly underestimated in cases such as this. In this case they appear almost completely absent. The whole situation is the result of poor management from weak administrators--the same administrators from which tenure protects the good teachers.

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Posted by another comment
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm

I couldn’t believe that tenure teachers can wrong-doing to the children and hide behind this law.

Let’s do some homework for our school district and board.

There’s on-line document about Teacher Tenure Exceptions. Are these 11 exceptions in this document passed the law or not.

Mrs. P was verbally abusing not only one but many children in both Slater and Huff with racial discriminating words. Many other unprofessional issues were mentioned on other VOICE(s) articles.

With these 11 exceptions, how school district/school board made the decision to replace Mrs. P to Graham Middle School.

Could school district/State Board say that Mrs. P only treated "few"
of the students unprofessionally, and concluded that she's professionally conduct?

Proposition 74 - Teacher Tenure Ballot Measure

Web Link

Under The Initiative, a link to -- Put the Kids First Act

Web Link

Go to Page 2 and 3

SECTION 5: Education Code section 44932 is amended to read:
Section 44932. Grounds for dismissal of permanent employee; Suspension of permanent Probationary employee for unprofessional conduct.
(a)No permanent employee shall be dismissed except for one or
more of the following causes:
(1) Immoral or unprofessional conduct.
(2) Commission, aiding, or advocating the commission of
acts of criminal syndicalism, as prohibited by
Chapter 188 or the Statutes of 1919, or in any
amendment thereof.
(3) Dishonesty.
(4) Unsatisfactory performance.
(5) Evident unfitness for service.
(6) Physical or mental condition unfitting him or her
to instruct or associate with children.
(7) Persistent violation of or refusal to obey the school
laws of the state or reasonable regulations prescribed
for the government of the public schools by the
State Board of Education or by the government board of
the school district employing him or her.
(8) Conviction of a felony or of any crime involving
moral turpitude.
(9) Violation of section 51530 or conduct specified in
Section 1028 of the Government Code, added by Chapter
1418 of the Statutes of 1947.
(10) Knowing membership by the employee in the Communist Party.
(11) Alcoholism or other drug abuse which makes the
employee unfit to instruct or associate with children

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Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm

In March 26 Voice, one parent commented --if Mrs. P lands at Bubb School in Fall, she will organize the picket line.

Now, Mrs. P will land at Graham Middle School. Will there be a picket line at Graham Middle School on 1st day of school? Shell we send our students to school on 1st day of school, 8/25?

Why school district is deciding to have Mrs. P back teaching Middle School when she couldn't professionally teaching in elementary schools? Maybe Alta Vista High School is a better fit for her.

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Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Some one else said it some where else, but it demands repeating here. It's not just the teachers that benefit from tenure. Even the administrators and principals are protected by it--it's their last refuge. The whole system is backward.

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Posted by Steph
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

The teacher should not be put back in the classroom, but given an office job. Any other option is insane.

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Posted by Get Ready
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:27 pm

...for the sparks to fly over the next few weeks when this sleeper story takes off again with the start of the new school year.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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