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Templeton elementary teacher loses job months before receiving tenure status

Posted at 11:55 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 19:34:48-04

The Templeton Unified School District Board of Trustees met Monday night to decide the fate of a teacher’s job.

That teacher claims pregnancy discrimination and skewed data have come into play.

After a long discussion behind closed doors, the board voted unanimously to not renew Venus Powell’s contract.

Powell has been a drama teacher for 13 years. For the past two years, she’s been under a probationary contract as an English language development teacher at Vineyard Elementary.

If that contract had been renewed, she would have received tenure at the beginning of the next school year.

The district can choose not to renew such contracts without cause as long as the teacher is notified by March 15, which is what Superintendent Joe Koski recommended and what the board voted for Monday.

During public comment, parents and fellow educators spoke highly of Powell, arguing her departure would be detrimental to the kids.

“There is such turnover and with this population you need consistency, you need to build that trust and we are doing none of that if we keep having new people again and again,” said Dessa Drake, a fourth-grade teacher at Vineyard Elementary School.

In February, Powell claimed the principal discriminated against her for being pregnant.

Monday night, she said the district superintendent skewed data regarding student success in her classroom.

“This misrepresentation of data brought up is inaccurate. [Koski] chose not to edit the graph that was presented to staff and myself on Friday,” said Powell.

There is a contingency with the decision. Powell can decide to have two additional classroom observations with different administrators plus the superintendent.

If she receives a satisfactory report from those observations, Powell could get her job back.

KSBY reached out to Powell and the teachers’ union, but both declined to comment at this time.

The superintendent said the district does not comment on personnel matters and declined to provide a statement.