This was a post on the SPEAK for DCSD Facebook page, we thought it would be an appropriate addition to our Teacher Voices section. Scroll further down for a response from Superintendent Fagen.
By Christine Capocelli (Parent and Former DCSD Teacher):
Please share this. I have sent this letter to Liz Fagan. Dear Ms. Fagan, I am writing this letter because I am completely disgusted with what is happening in the district and at my former school (that my child still attends), Copper Mesa. I was hired by Douglas County in 2002 and this was the place to be in Colorado. I was in awe of the professionalism that this district embodied. I enjoyed going to work every day, I felt valued, and I LOVED my job. I was honored to be a member of the core team that opened Copper Mesa. We were thoughtful and diligent in making sure that it was a school where learning took place but also one filled with laughter and a sense of community. When you walked in the halls, you automatically felt joy and saw both kids and teachers in love with learning. I loved every child in that school and organized many activities that incorporated the entire school. Two of them were even covered on the news and showcased the community spirit of Copper Mesa.
Once you were hired, everything I knew and felt about Douglas County changed. Getting up and going to work every day now became a chore. It was no longer about what was best for kids, but what was best for your agenda. I refused to jump on your band wagon and was very vocal about my views. For that, I was put on paid administrative leave with 10 days left of school. I could not say good-bye to my second graders who I loved dearly and had spent the last 8 months building relationships with. I was flabbergasted that it had come to that and honestly thought that you couldn’t sink any lower.
I was wrong.
Yesterday, the principal sent a letter to parents stating that she would finish out the year but because her views and the district’s views didn’t align, she would be leaving once the school year was over. Most of this happened due to the fact that she wouldn’t promote an innovative classroom because of lack of support from the community. I am now hearing rumors that the same thing that happened to me is happening to her and she is being asked to leave immediately. Whether those rumors are true or not, is very irrelevant to me. I kept my daughter at CME–even though every time I had to walk in the front door I was sick to my stomach– because of all the wonderful teachers that are still there doing everything in their power to stay positive and do what is best for kids. Everything that has happened in the last day will now force all of them to flee Copper Mesa and Douglas County.
Your agenda and the way that you deal with staff and students is a disgrace to everything that Copper Mesa was built on. I will be pulling my child out of CME because the toxic environment that you have created is NO PLACE for any child to be.
You may read this letter and you may not, but I will publish it EVERY place that I possibly can because you and your agenda need to be stopped. I am no longer in the field of education and that is because of you. So I have nothing to lose. I write this to get things off my chest, but more importantly, I write it for all my friends and colleagues who can’t get out and have NO VOICE!! They are amazing teachers and would move mountains for the kids of Douglas County. But you are running them out, silencing them, and causing them to leave not only a school I love so dearly but leave the field of education all together. That to me is beyond disgraceful.
I hope someday that Douglas County School District finds a way to rebound from the mess that you have created and I can once again feel good about sending my daughter to school. For now, I cross my fingers that she gets another teacher next year that can put everything aside and make sure she gets everything she needs, despite all the chaos that is happening around her.
– UPDATE –
“I received a reply from Liz Fagan and although many of her facts are inaccurate, I think it is very important to show her side of the story. I DO NOT want to be known as a scorned teacher who only wants you to see her side. That is not my intention at all. So you can read her reply and draw your own conclusions but please take these points into consideration. I will own the fact that I took sick days instead of attending CITE workshops and such. That part is true. I never believed in the evaluation system and was not shy about being vocal. The rest of it I will leave up to interpretation. Those of you that know me and my teaching ability will know what is true and what is not.”
I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns as a former employee and current parent. I am sorry to hear you feel this way.
I feel that I should let you know that I have a very different understanding of your service to, and departure from, the district– as a former employee.
First, until the fall of 2014 parent meeting at Copper Mesa, I had no idea that, to use your words, you were outspoken against the district. This was never brought to my attention. However, I was aware of a few other personnel items related to your performance and conduct.
For example, I understood that there were a number of parents who wanted their children removed from your classroom — parents who felt you were a bit abrasive to children at best, and mean at worst.
I myself witnessed some of this one random day when I was touring the building with Nancy Wortmann. She later told me that she took me to your classroom specifically to see if I too, without prompting, would see what she had been seeing regularly, and unfortunately I did.
I was very saddened by the tone you used toward young children and disappointed by your treatment of Nancy as well. More specifically, I found myself startled at one point by your sharp, inappropriate tone as you abruptly cut children off who were attempting to answer Nancy’s questions about why they had to learn what items were goods and what items were services and where they would take that next.
Nancy had simply asked because, as a group, the students were placing, pictures of goods on one side of a green poster board and services on the other. I recall that they didn’t seem to know why or where the lesson was going, and Nancy was encouraging them forward by asking timely, important questions — trying to raise the level of thinking beyond know/understand. Even so, it was clear to all of us, including the children, that you did not appreciate it.
It was actually after this observation that I was told about parents wanting their children out of your classroom due to its poor culture and climate.
I was also informed that you intentionally took days off during InspirED Innovation and CITE training and were perceived to be insubordinate when you told Nancy that you would, “…not be participating in your own evaluation that year.”
Finally, do you recall that when Nancy let you know that she would be changing your grade-level for the following year, as she felt a higher grade would be a better fit, that you abandoned your classroom full of young students and left the building without permission, or even notification to appropriate staff? I understand that this is why you were put on leave.
None of the above had anything to do with me but, you have repeatedly and inaccurately linked your departure from CME to me publicly. You have conveniently tied my one, random school visit to your leaving the school, and you have repeatedly left out all of the accurate and pertinent details mentioned above.
Despite your decision to spread misinformation, I have so far declined to respond with facts in public because in my view, this was a personnel matter, and I believed it should remain confidential.
I am happy to meet with you if you would like to discuss your concerns more.