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Templeton Unified School District mulls dismissing three teachers, one claims pregnancy discrimination

Posted at 11:10 PM, Feb 28, 2019

Three Templeton Unified School District teachers are in danger of losing their jobs.

On Thursday, parents and fellow teachers attended the Board of Trustees meeting to persuade them to reconsider their decision to dismiss the probationary certificated teachers.

One of those teachers in jeopardy is Venus Powell, a certificated elementary English Language Development and Drama teacher at Vineyard Elementary.

She has worked for the school for 13 years. Two years ago, she was offered a probationary contract — one that must be completed to earn tenure.

Powell, as well as the other two teachers, face non-renewal, which the district can choose without cause. She claims clashes with the school’s principal Laura Brooks is leading to the recommendation to the board.

“I will share with you my concerns with the judgement of the administration at my school site which I feel compelled to tell you about so you’re made aware of the conversations which may have led to administrative decisions,” Powell said.

Powell detailed conversations between herself and Brooks, going as far as alleging discrimination from Brooks in regards to reducing workload due to pregnancy.

“I knew she was violating the pregnancy discrimination act,” Powell charged.

During the public comment phase, Powell received support for her performance as a teacher.

“She is well liked by her students, parents and the VES staff,” Annette Calcote, Vineyard teacher said.

Parent Leah Pinner also offered praise with Powell’s work with her kids.

“In my personal experience with Mrs. Powell has been nothing short of amazing,” Pinner said.

Following a closed session, trustees allowed more public comment. Shelly Keller, representing the union, spoke on the issue, urging the district to rethink the dismissal of the teachers.

“These women have given so much to our student and teams that we don’t agree with the administration on these decisions,” Keller said. “We strongly request that you reconsider your attempt to eliminate them.”

Trustees chose to delay the decision to end the employment of the teachers. The subject will be revisited in a special session in March.

Superintendent Joe Koski said the district does not discuss personnel decisions and declined to provide a statement on the situation.

The two other teachers did not attend Thursday’s meeting.