Teacher: Whittell principal falsified records | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Teacher: Whittell principal falsified records

William Ferchland

In the latest display of tensions between Whittell High School Principal Janie Gray and staff, math teacher Michael Kiger accused his boss of falsifying student records to meet federal education requirements.

The complaint was filed with whistle-blower protection rights to the Nevada Department of Education late last month. State Deputy Superintendent Gloria Dopf said the Douglas County School District will be charged with investigating the matter.

Kiger said five students who aren’t in one of his math classes were listed as being taught by him in records for the spring grading period.

“There is a paper trail that if you can read you can see she falsified records,” Kiger said.

Although he believed the move was tied to No Child Left Behind to show the students were taught by a “highly qualified” teacher, Dopf said current requirements of the federal act do not relate to the accusation.

Kiger, who has worked at the school for 23 years and received past teacher-of-the-year honors, would need “highly qualified” status by 2005-06, Dopf said. In addition, Whittell is not a Title 1 school and does not have to meet the requirement of “highly qualified” teachers this year.

“At this point it may be a matter of bad record keeping or there may be some further dimension to it,” Dopf said. “I would say it’s really going to depend on what the findings are.”

Kiger was undeterred.

“Then why was my name used for these grades?” he replied.

“It comes down to this,” Kiger continued, “if Douglas County School District condones this then shouldn’t every child be afforded the same opportunity to receive grades from a teacher they don’t have?”

The news shook Douglas County school officials.

“I want to know what it is and get it investigated quickly and find out what we can do about it. I’ll let the facts of the circumstances determine what I’ll do next,” Superintendent John Soderman said.

Gray was surprised upon learning about the accusation, which she read about in a newspaper report.

“The matter will be investigated and I certainly will cooperate fully,” she said.

Kiger said he sought whistle-blower protection to ensure his retirement days and avoid retaliation from the district.

“(The district) seems to go after people who are not on the principal’s side,” he said.

Gray is in her first year as principal. In October, 11 of the school’s 16 classroom teachers were absent in what the district believed was a mass sick-out planned for protest. Seven teachers were disciplined despite the teacher’s union stating the absences were not organized.

Kiger said he was at school and was not absent that day.

Marty Cronin, president of the Nevada State Education Association, said the union is not involved.

“There’s nothing for us to make an attack on or defend against,” Cronin said.

George Echan, a Douglas County School District board trustee, said the turnover of the principal position – Whittell has had five since 1998 – contributes to the school’s tough times.

“Whittell has had its moments, there’s no question. Everybody on the board wishes for all the schools that there would be nice, calm periods,” he said. “Sometimes that’s not the case.”

Gray said she has no plans of leaving and will return for the 2004-05 school year.

“It’s been quite the year but it always is at Whittell,” she said.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.

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