Hope Moffett is returning to Audenried High School Monday morning.
In a surprise development, both the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have announced that Moffett will be back in the classroom teaching on Monday, and that her proposed termination has been reduced to a five-day suspension. The union is still planning to fight the suspension.
"I feel like it's a win for us and for me," said an elated Moffett Friday evening.
"I could not have imagined such a positive outcome where I would get to return to teach the students, which is what I really wanted."
The dramatically reduced punishment for Moffett is the result of a pre-hearing settlement conference between the teachers' union and the District, held Friday with Magistrate L. Felipe Restrepo.
The District had been pushing to fire Moffett because it alleged that she had endangered the welfare of students by giving them SEPTA tokens and encouraging them to leave school and travel to District headquarters to protest District plans to convert Audenried to a charter. The termination recommendation prompted a federal free speech lawsuit filed by the union, which accused the District of retaliating against Moffett for speaking out. A hearing had been scheduled for next Tuesday.
"The District agreed to have Moffett return to Audenried on Monday after she acknowledged she failed to notify the principal on 2/14/2011 that students planned to leave the school building during the school day on 2/15/2011, even though no parental permission had been submitted to the school," said a District statement.
Moffett said Friday that she will also have to read a statement to students in each of her five classes, and that a written copy of the statement will be mailed home to parents.
"We both agreed on the language of the document... It contains no language on my part that I was behind the [student] walkout, because that's not the truth," said Moffett.
According to Moffett, the statement also contains no mention of providing students with tokens of having endangered children - the crux of the District's allegations against her.
According to its press release, the PFT will "proceed directly to expedited arbitration on the suspension because it does not agree that Ms. Moffett should have been subjected to any discipline."
In an interview earlier this week, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman had said it was "arguable" whether the punishment, termination, was warranted given the alleged offense.
More to come on this breaking story.