Mercedes Schneider offers more detail on a case out of the Texas Education Agency that probably should have raised some concerns for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee BEFORE he hired now-Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn.
On November 21, 2017, then-Texas special education director, Laurie Kash, blew the whistle on the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) entering into a $4.4M no-bid contract with a special education data collecting company, SPEDx; she filed a report with the US Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The following day– November 22, 2017– Kash was abruptly fired via email. (For these details and more, see my March 19, 2018, post.)
She sued for wrongful termination, and on November 22, 2019– two years to the day following Kash’s termination– the USDOE Office of Hearings and Appeals ruled in Kash’s favor. From the ruling:
The OIG report found that Kash’s communications with OIG and TEA’s internal audit office were a contributing factor in TEA’s decision to terminate her employment. Although TEA asserted other reasons for firing Kash, the OIG report found TEA did not provide clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same the personnel action without Kash’s disclosure.
Now, Tennessee has a Commissioner of Education causing a bit of disruption and there are even questions about the relative readiness of this year’s TNReady test:
There is a complete lack of urgency or understanding regarding the human resource needs to launch an effective assessment in support of the districts, schools, teachers, students and parents of Tennessee.
I guess that’s what you’d call Schwinning?
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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