KSN&C readers have expressed interest in ongoing legal action between FCPS teacher Rosalind Hurley-Richards and district Superintendent Stu Silberman.
Here's what we've been able to learn so far.
The case originated from a tribunal in Fayette County. Whenever disciplinary action is taken against a teacher in Kentucky, she has the right to have that action reviewed by a tribunal.
Hurley-Richards was disciplined by FCPS for...something or other...and the tribunal upheld her suspension. (Stay tuned)
Ms. Richards, a second grade teacher at Liberty Elementary, filed a circuit court action in Fayette Circuit Court (09-CI-5311) appealing the tribunal's decision. In addition to Silberman and the Fayette County Board of Education, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday was named in the circuit court action along with the tribunal members.
KDE in-house counsel, (Yes, the state uses in-house counsel to save money over outsourcing legal services) Kevin Brown tells KSN&C,
"Naming the commissioner/tribunal members is not necessary as they are not the real parties in interest in an appeal of the tribunal decision as the commissioner is only responsible for appointing the tribunal and the tribunal acts as the judge in the original decision. However, some attorneys choose to add all possible parties as defendants and since the commissioner does maintain the administrative record, it is easier to get the administrative record certified if the commissioner is already a party. Thus, the commissioner and tribunal members, except for tendering the certified administrative record of the tribunal appeal, were not real parties in interest in this case. The appeal is between the district and the teacher.
The circuit court overturned the tribunal’s suspension of Richards and the district is now appealing that decision to the Court of Appeals (2010-CA-000840-MR). KSN&C has not yet learned the grounds for the appeal. The court of appeals action does not name the commissioner or the tribunal members as parties.
Court of Appeals administrator Sam Givens tells KSN&C that the case has been slated for April but the court has not yet selected a specific date.
Rosalind Hurley Richards
According to E. K. Potter (in Kentucky Women: Two Centuries of Indomitable Spirit. 1997. Louisville: Big Tree Press.) Rosalind Richards (1947- ) is "a teacher on the cutting edge of education reform who encourages and celebrates change, one who blends the best of the past with the promise of the future." At a time of elevated interest in positive role models among African American teachers in Fayette County, Hurley-Richards designed a classroom model for a professional learning and working environment at Squires Elementary. Her work netted her Elementary Teacher of the Year honors in 1996. In 1997 she was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year, and was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. She was also the recipient of a Milken Family Foundation $25,000 award in 1997.
I always though of Hurley-Richards' approach as similar to that of famous Chicago educator Marva Collins. She used allegories to teach philosophy, emphasized journal writing, and encouraged students to engage their personal experiences. She was also thought of as a "handful" when it came to following whatever plan the school laid out for the faculty. As I recall from conversations with Jay Jordan, her principal at the time, Hurley-Richards enjoyed some level of insulation from Superintendent Peter Flynn that caused Jordan to feel handcuffed and resulted in friction between him and Flynn. Hurley-Richards was also a pilot teacher for the Kentucky Department of Education's Mathematics Portfolio Research and Development Project where she developed a new instructional model for the now defunct math portfolios.
By exploring different literary genres, students are exposed to the greatest thinkers of every age and culture. The broad emphasis on fine arts teaches art history and culture, aesthetic perception, creative expression, and art criticism. Relevant field trips to museums, theatres, (sic, get it?) and concerts are included, along with hands-on workshops and labs. By encouraging reading, writing, and verbal discipline, the program improves students' test scores and their abilities to become stronger thinkers.For this, she received the ING Unsung Heroes Award of $2,000.