Wilcox says teachers escape evaluations

Citing information she said school-board members had previously discussed only in closed-session meetings, board member Cindy Wilcox complained publicly this week that dozens of La Cañada Unified teachers appear to be have been exempted from last year's teacher-evaluation process.

"We learned the number of teachers being evaluated was about half of what the board expected," Wilcox said during Tuesday's meeting about a closed-session board discussion that occurred several months ago.

Wilcox said 65 of the district's roughly 200 credentialed teachers received evaluations last year, though state requirements that teachers are evaluated every two years suggest that 90 evaluations should have taken place.

A clause in La Cañada Unified's teachers' agreement, she said, allows teachers who are categorized as "master teachers" by school principals to be reviewed only once every four years.

"It turns out every teacher in the district who has tenure and a satisfactory [rating] on their last performance evaluation has this designation and is reviewed every four years," Wilcox explained in an interview outside the meeting, adding that all teachers she has heard parents complain about are classified as "master teachers."

After Wilcox raised the matter during the communications portion of the meeting, board member Joel Peterson raised concerns that Wilcox had violated board rules by going into a lengthy oration about a matter that was not on the meeting's agenda.

"We cannot have substantive discussion of items that are not on the agenda. The public has a right to know what topics we're going to discuss," said Peterson. "I objected to her putting out her position to affect and influence potential decisions of the board."

Wilcox said previous requests to have the matter placed on an agenda had been ignored.

Newly appointed Board President Susan Boyd put a stop to the argument by saying that a review of the teacher-evaluation process would be placed on a future board agenda, but whether that discussion would occur in closed or open session was unclear.

Rick Jordan, president of the La Cañada Teacher's Association, could not be reached for comment.

Staff writer Joe Piasecki contributed to this report.

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