Another Dallas ISD Teacher Suspended After Putting His Complaints on Paper (Update)

McKoy1.jpg
Botello principal Angel McKoy.
Update, 3 p.m.: Elliot Monteverde-Torres, the teacher suspended after blowing the whistle on his principal, was denied a contract renewal for next school year in the weeks before he sent the complaint letter. See details after the original item.

Original item: The News' Matthew Haag has a story in this morning's paper (and a paywall-free blog post) about a Dallas ISD teacher who, after filing a complaint against his principal, suddenly finds himself suspended with pay but without explanation. If it sounds familiar, it should. If it sounds weird, it is.

It was just last month that Trustee Edwin Flores was publicly apologizing to Joseph Drake, the DISD teacher who'd been suspended after sending Flores an angry letter about the board's decision to extend the teachers' school day. It made Drake a bit of a martyr among teachers, who rallied to his side, and it earned him the Jim Schutze Medal of Honor, which comes with an autographed copy of A People's History. Unfortunately it was autographed by Schutze, not Zinn, so I doubt that was any consolation.

This week's martyr-to-be is Elliot Monteverde-Torres, who teaches third-grade math at Oak Cliff's Botello Elementary. As Haag tells it, and as the documents below show, Monteverde-Torres was a wee unimpressed with the work of his school's principal, Angel McKoy. So he sent a letter.

The letter, addressed to to state education officials and DISD supe-for-now Alan King, painted a portrait of a principal drunk with apathy -- students bringing weapons and drugs to school with no repercussions at all. It caught the attention of TEA, which ordered DISD to investigate. The district told Haag it will.

It's what happened next, though, that seems bizarre, especially given the Drake saga. Monteverde-Torres told Haag that he was called into his principal's office, who ordered him to HR, who handed him a letter saying he was on leave. It said nothing about why, so Monteverde-Torres was left with the impression that he'd blown his whistle too loud for the district's tastes. He's hired a lawyer and is mulling a lawsuit.

Haag's story cites two district policies: one that requires employees to follow the proper chain of command in filing grievances, and one that protects employees who report a crime. It's unclear whether either applies, or neither, or both. The devil's in his usual spot on this one, and there aren't many details quite yet. The district's not saying anything, the teachers union declined to comment, and of the four trustees I emailed last night, only Mike Morath responded, and he did so tepidly.

"I do not yet have the facts of this case," he wrote. "But it's critical that we encourage open feedback from all our employees. And doubly critical that we prevent retaliation against whistleblowers, who play an important role in helping improve the district."

Stay tuned. The documents below were obtained by Haag. I'll ask Schutze to get working on a baggie for him.

Update, 3 p.m.: I just spoke with Monteverde-Torres, who confirmed what I'd heard earlier today: That before sending the letter to the district, he'd been told he wouldn't be back at Botello next fall.

Though he started in 2007, Monteverde-Torres says, he remained a "probationary" teacher, meaning the district could decline to renew his one-year contract without explanation. They did that about a month ago, he says, after various run-ins with his principal.

But Monteverde-Torres says the fact that he was basically fired had nothing to do with the letter he wrote.

"It's just part of, in good conscious, of what I would have done anyway," he says, adding that he started writing the letter before he knew he would be fired. "This gathering of evidence took a while for me to obtain. ... Very few people are willing to take a step forward -- for very good reason. Look at what's happening to me."

Dallas ISD Teacher Complaint With TEA

Elliot Monteverde-Torres Placed on Leave

TEA response to Dallas ISD

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28 comments
Skepticalgirl
Skepticalgirl

My Anglo sister taught compensatory reading at a mostly Hispanic DISD school, but ended up with an entirely African-American class. She had two kids who brought weapons to the school, and another whose mother sent cans of food for his lunch and asked my sister to cook them for her son. My sister sent the kids with weapons to "the office," and told the mother she couldn't cook food for her child in a classroom. The mother complained that my sister was racist, and her African-American principal told her that she had to be a racist because the only kids she selected for discipline were back. When my sister told her she only had black kids in her class, the principal threatened to discipline her! It's one of many stories, none of them good, about the hell on earth that DISD can be for teachers, much less kids. My own son was there for two years, and I sold my house and moved to get him out of the corruption, incompetence and nepotism that is a waste of our tax dollars. 

Dividedwefail
Dividedwefail

If he was put on leave for alleged misconduct shouldn't the principal be placed on leave as well? To be fair they both should be on leave or both of them should be on campus. The principal has some serious allegations of misconduct and DISD should follow protocol.  

And for those of you defending the principal - just for a moment think...what if it was your kid's school and what if it was true?  Speaking from experience you can't imagine the things that really do go on.

Kenwell214
Kenwell214

He provides no proof only hearsay. We can complain, but we have to look at the source. He was already told he would not retunr and a month later he writes a leter full of rumor and hearsay. There are few things in the letter that he personally observed. DISD has its problems but this guy was so bad they told him in January to look for another job.

Dpaul
Dpaul

Hmmm, I'm guessing one reason his contract was not renewed was because this math teacher doesn't seem to be able to count to 9. And look at his "complaint"!  Everything is "apparently" or "allegedly".  Doesn't look like he actually had any first-and knowledge of anything he's "reporting".  He certainly doesn't support any allegations with any facts--just apparent suppositions.  Since he doesn't seem to deal with facts, I'm guessing there are components to his misconduct that he conveniently left off in talking to the press. 

Observist
Observist

You'd think somewhere in the M.Ed coursework they would cover the fact that the Secretary of Education is a dude, Arne Duncan, not a chick, Anne Duncan.

Moving from pedantry to cattiness, I think Ms. McCoy looks dead-eyed and mean-spirited, and I suspect Mr. Monteverde-Torres is one of those over-intelligent, under-achieving types, bitter that all those degrees have only gotten him subjugated to venal ambition... Cage match! 

Char
Char

Reasons like this are why my mom moved me out of DISD. I moved from FWISD to DISD (Anne Frank Elementary) in the middle of 1st grade and stayed there until third grade, when thankfully I moved to the wonderful RISD. In 1st grade my own teacher gave me an absent sad face thingy even though my mom gave me a note and being the nerd that I am, I cried and told my mom. She then called my teacher to find out what happened and got her to fix it. The next day when our teacher was about to release us for recess, my teacher announced haughtily to the whole class "Don't be mean to the new girl, or she'll go run and tell her mom" causing my whole class to giggle and point at me. My mom called the principal and she did absolutely nothing about it. Then in second grade, I was bullied by another girl. She cussed me out, threatened to kill me repeatedly, and even borrowed this other kid's knife and followed me around with it. I told my mom and she told the principal and she didn't do shit. The girl's mother was allowed to even come in our class multiple times and yell at us that "we were all being mean to her daughter" and asked us "why wouldn't we be friends with her?" Umm...maybe because her daughter was a psychopath. Did I mention it also took our whole class 4 months to learn the concept of borrowing when subtracting? DISD sucks.

Char
Char

Reasons like this are why my mom moved me out of DISD. I moved from FWISD to DISD (Anne Frank Elementary) in the middle of 1st grade and stayed there until third grade, when thankfully I moved to the wonderful RISD. In 1st grade my own teacher gave me an absent sad face thingy even though my mom gave me a note and being the nerd that I am, I cried and told my mom. She then called my teacher to find out what happened and got her to fix it. The next day when our teacher was about to release us for recess, my teacher announced haughtily to the whole class "Don't be mean to the new girl, or she'll go run and tell her mom" causing my whole class to giggle and point at me. My mom called the principal and she did absolutely nothing about it. Then in second grade, I was bullied by another girl. She cussed me out, threatened to kill me repeatedly, and even borrowed this other kid's knife and followed me around with it. I told my mom and she told the principal and she didn't do shit. The girl's mother was allowed to even come in our class multiple times and yell at us that "we were all being mean to her daughter" and asked us "why wouldn't we be friends with her?" Umm...maybe because her daughter was a psychopath. Did I mention it also took our whole class 4 months to learn the concept of borrowing when subtracting? DISD sucks.

RTGolden
RTGolden

The one constant in the downfall of DISD since I have been in Dallas is the Board.  The people of Dallas continually elect the same people to the Board, yet expect better results.  Kind of like the people in this country keep electing Republicans and Democrats and expecting something to change.If you want to change an organization run by people, you have to change the people running the organization.

Montemalone
Montemalone

An elementary school that has students bringing drugs and weapons in with no repercussions?I'd say the principal and a few other administrators need a boot in the butt.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The real problem:  DISD School Board Members.

They are so busy feeling important and chumming around with charter hucksters, testing vendors, etc,that the day-to-day running of the district is just not part of their aspirations.

We have this horrible layer of administrators who do whatever they want.  They pick the principals and the principals serve them--NOT the kids or the parents or taxpayers.

And what do the board members do about this reality?Nothing.  Nothing at all.

They hire supers who will rubber stamp their schemes with vendors and they blame the super when things go wrong.

Find out which sorority/church/Exec Director this principal is affiliated with and there's your answer for why this situation arose.  And then ask why the Board members tolerate it.

150,000 innocent kids deserve better.

WatchingSouth Detroit
WatchingSouth Detroit

Obviously DISD can spell R-E-T-A-L-I-A-T-I-O-N.  I wonder if they can spell "integrity", that one I doubt.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Why is Diedrae Bell-Hunter sending out correspondence on Alan King's letterhead?

cp
cp

What the hell? How old is that little girl, 16? How did she get to be a principal? 

gallery walk
gallery walk

 She is connected to someone.  Probably was in the aspiring principals program.  They like them with no experience but young and cute and connected to someone.

XavierWinston
XavierWinston

I guess the white people have left and will let the blacks and the hispanics kill each other all by themselves!!

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I wonder if the community members wanting to stop the "pipeline to prison" of alternative schools would be against the kids referred to in the letter to the TEA and Alan King going to alternative schools. Bringing a bb gun to school, giving kids prescription drugs...wow.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 was it an antihistamine? motrin?  or adderal?  was it to a good friend?  or was he dealing oxycontin?  The bb gun could be of less or greater concern as well. 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 I guess the parents forget that pipeline to prison starts in the homes of the many different zip codes the DISD serves. The district is just  stop along the way.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

DISD is falling apart at the seams because of bad principles and admin staff. The worst part about this: $20 bucks this little bastard is still in school with carte blance to keep up his stupid little acts.  This is why the DISD needs a major overhaul from the top down..

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

You are right. The school board and administration keeps blaming "bad" teachers, but DISD has a massive problem with middle management. Schools are run by incompetent or tyrannical principals (God help you if your principal is both). Some of the trustees acknowledge this but last year only 7 campus administrators (out of over 700) were let go. Most of the time bad administrators just get recycled and show up at another campus to terrorize another group of employees.

I went to school in a small town and I remember our principals and superintendent teaching classes, walking the halls, driving buses and generally doing everything they could to support the students and teachers. It seems most DISD administrators sit in their office and issue directives. They're more concerned about impressing their bosses at 3700 Ross Avenue than actually running their campuses.

DISD can fire every teacher and nothing will change if they don't take completely rebuild their management model.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

This is why parents who can have moved their kids out of district, the same goes w/ great teachers and principals. Many have moved to suburban districts or private/charter schools because they're allowed to have more control over their classrooms when it comes to behavioral issues, not to mention have to worry about dealing with every person who screams that little LaQuande or Santo is getting the short end of the stick because of their socio-economic status. I've met many parents of different races, creeds, ect.. who've moved out of DISD who tell me things like this have become a true distraction and lessens the quality of education for their kids...

I hate saying this, and i'll catch heat for it, but the DISD reminds me on the whole as a noisy, unkempt road-side zoo. Its a place where young parents who are barely into adulthood themselves either by age or maturity dump off their unruly little troublemakers, saddling decent teachers with ever-increasing homerooms making them into proverbial cage-cleaners and the zookeepers themselves(i.e. principals) end up taking a lackadaisical approach to running their campuses by either ignoring serious issues or just plain giving up. In other words, they punch a clock for a check and thats about it...

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Haven't there been two major overhauls since 2007?

What's the real issue here?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I see the main issue is "revolving door" management. We've barely kept a superintendent in recent years due to the fact this district refuses to get their collective act together, sending many of them to districts where they can actually do their job in peace, without all the barking dogs from every single special interest group in this city from the Angry Poverty Pimp Contingent  to Sunday Garcias Latino Action Rangers and everyone in-between....

Instead of putting children and teachers first, they(board/trustees) instead mess around and fill up an already-over bloated middle management structure to shield themselves from actually having to deal with the serious issues that this district faces. Its why you have more money spent on lawyering-up than making sure children in this district receive a quality education...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I might as well..as long as I get a lucha mask..

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Not Latino myself, but I would totally join a group called Latino Action Rangers.

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