Veteran DC Teacher Claims Transfer is Retribution For Whistle Blowing

9:00 AM, Sep 8, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A veteran DC public school teacher has been involuntarily transferred after 25 years at Wilson High School after he complained about problems there, leading him to believe the transfer is retribution for whistle blowing.

"I think the real reason is that I have been very active as the union building representative, trying to intercede for teachers and to prevent inappropriate orders from being given to teachers and, most recently, because I reported to the chancellor the fact that students went on this senior class trip (where) out of 88 students, eight had over 200 unexcused absences. They were failing classes, and another 10 had over 100 unexcused absences.

"They were unsupervised when they were there in the Bahamas, four school days. And we're being told that we're supposed to be preparing students for achievement and all that and this is allowed to happen and I get transferred for that.

"And I also reported athletic violations that put students and the school system at jeopardy for athletic competitions," said teacher Erich Martel.

In the past, Martel has reported to district officials that students were being allowed to graduate when they had not met requirements.

The school district says he was transferred because of educational philosophy differences with Wilson administrators, citing disagreements over efforts to stop cheating, and admission to advance placement courses.

"I decline to rescind your transfer, which was based on valid reasons and was completely unrelated to the allegations of impropriety you made..." wrote Chancellor Michelle Rhee in answer to Martel's request for help.

The school district declined 9News Now requests for an interview about Martel's transfer, saying it could not discuss personnel issues.

"They're getting rid of me, I can't read their minds, but I believe they don't want anybody who will speak up against any of the practices, educational practices as well as management practices, that are harmful to students and teachers," Martel told 9NewsNow.

An inspector for the city's Office of Inspector General has agreed to meet with Martel to explore his claim the transfer is punitive and therefore illegal.

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