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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco teachers union files complaint over principal's errant email



Some Land O'Lakes High School teachers are upset that a piece of their spring evaluation results became shared information after their principal emailed it to the entire faculty.

The United School Employees of Pasco has filed a formal complaint with the state office of professional practices, arguing the data -- which included ratings of "highly effective" through "unsatisfactory" -- is confidential and should not have been put into a public record.

USEP president Kenny Blankenship wrote in his complaint that the material could be used for intimidation, and suggested that principal Ric Mellin should have known better.

"Even if Mr. Mellin's sending of the spreadsheets was careless, it lends the impression that he cannot be trusted with such sensitive information and should be cause for him to resign his post at Professional Practices Services and a replacement considered for his post as principal," wrote Blankenship, who previously taught at Land O'Lakes High.

Mellin recently was named to the state Education Practices Commission.

School district officials have so far rallied behind Mellin, who has apologized for accidentally sending out the spreadsheet. Assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley told superintendent Kurt Browning in an email he did not expect state sanctions against Mellin, whom he said took immediate steps to fix the situation.

"We have had several issues over the years where employees have sent confidential information via e-mail to parties who should not be in possession of such information," Shibley wrote. "In some cases the transmission was intentional, and in others it was accidental. Varying level of coaching and discipline resulted, but in no case were these employees reported to PPS for the release of the confidential information alone."

While some of the teachers have expressed disappointment with the release of the information, others have complained that the data reveal flaws with the district's evaluation system. They said it's pretty clear that certain administrators rate teachers more generously than others, despite the district's insistence that the system has "inter-rater reliability," meaning all observers should come away with similar views of an individual.

Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd said the district is looking at added training on evaluations for administrators.

The USEP lately has filed several grievances and complaints against the district, including one relating to union access to schools' employee lounges.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 7:00am]


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