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Demoted principal plans to fight back

Demoted principal plans to fight back

Demoted principal plans to fight back
Photo Credit: Gene Wexler
At a press conference, Dr. Nikolai Vitti talks about the DCPS investigation into Sharon Sanders. January 14, 2013.

Demoted principal plans to fight back

The lawyer for a demoted Duval elementary school principal says he’s already planning to appeal the district’s actions against her.

WOKV has learned more details on why Sharon Sanders was transferred to Landmark Middle School where she will work as an assistant principal and make $30,000 less per year than she used as principal of Windy Hill Elementary School.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti held a conference after releasing the investigation report on Sharon Sanders, who’s accused of a number of violations during the FCAT Writing test in February 2012.

“We have to maintain the right testing environment considering there’s so much at stake regarding these tests, and we have to ensure the integrity of the testing environment,” Dr. Vitti said. “And that was clearly violated based on the investigation.”

Vitti said the state investigated regarding the results, and their conclusion was “there was no definitive evidence that there was cheating that took place.”

You can read the entire DCPS investigation by clicking the document on the left side of this story.  From going through that and talking with Dr. Vitti, we found some key conclusions from the district:

-There was not adequate spacing between the students, which is supposed to be at least three feet
-There were no partitions used as the students took the test, and students were facing each other at their tables
-Students took the tests in the same location they had writing camps.  This is not a direct violation of FCAT procedures; however the report says visual aids around the classroom were not removed or covered up
-There was no training for test administrators or proctors
-A school assessment coordinator was not able to monitor testing rooms because she was sent home early

"There were moments during testing where personnel at the school indicated that testing violations may be occurring and that she did not change the testing environment based on those recommendations," Vitti said.

Sanders’ attorney, Tad Delegal, went through four of the accusations which Dr. Vitti pointed out and said none of them were correct.

Delegal says there is no rule that requires partitions between students. 

“There is a rule that requires spacing of students,” Delegal said.  “She was never charged with anything regarding partitions and there was no evidence that students were not spaced correctly.”

He said there was “absolutely no evidence” in the investigative report that any visual materials were left on the boards in the class.

In regards to the assessment coordinator who went home, Delegal said the reality is that she was allowed to go home.

“She had a personal emergency, but it was after the tests were conducted, after she did all of her job.  There was no follow up to determine when she went home,” Delegal said.

Finally, Delegal refuted Dr. Vitti’s claim that Sanders did not report to the district about violations which may have been occurring.

“The reality is there is no suggestion whatsoever that any testing irregularity was brought to Ms. Sanders’ attention,” he said.

"There was no cheating, and not everything may have been completely perfect, there may have been errors, there are human factors, but this was not something that Ms. Sanders was responsible for," Delegal said. “And frankly, I'm disappointed that the school district didn't do a more thorough investigation and they would've revealed that."

The investigation also reveals that the investigation started when it was believed former teacher Chris Bacca had prior information about the writing prompt and prepped his students before the test.

Bacca, who was arrested by police on unrelated charges of sexual battery against a child, denies that accusation in a letter in which he calls himself “an amazing teacher.

“Unfortunately success and motivation come at a price,” Bacca wrote.  “I have always known that some teachers around me are jealous and I have worked hard to stay focused on my students and my classroom and to ignore their remarks and the rumors…If anything I said was misconstrued to imply that I had additional information about the prompt I apologize.  I am appalled and saddened to think that one of my colleagues would ever call into question my morals or my ethics.”

To read more about the investigation into Christopher Bacca, see the related content on the left side of the article.

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