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Moffett to return to Audenried Monday

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 18, 2011 07:42 PM

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.

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Comments (43)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 18, 2011 9:43 pm

So the only ones who lost out are the students who did not have the benefit of a committed teacher leading up to the PSSAs. There is nothing to rejoice about when the children lose!

Submitted by curious teacher (not verified) on March 19, 2011 5:13 pm

I just hope that her students were able to stay focused on what they had to do on the PSSA tests to prove that they are a successful school. If her students do not perform to the district's expectations due to this large distraction of not knowing whether one of their most committed and beloved teachers would return, then once again they will be on the chopping block and accusing Moffett of being an inefficient teacher. I can’t help but wonder if that may have been part of someone’s agenda when Moffett was first removed from the classroom.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 18, 2011 10:18 pm

I agree and the ONLY reason this happened is because the Queen wanted it this way. The alternative would have been Ms.Moffitt being considered a martyr throughout the country which would have caused political problems for the Queen that she couldn't afford. In any case, Glad to see this young teacher back at work where she should have been all along.

Submitted by Ken (not verified) on March 18, 2011 10:16 pm

Well, the SDP gets a very tiny bit of credit for coming to its senses. But the reality of this is that Hope got a month in teacher jail, a lost of 5 days pay, and the lost opportunity to teach her students for the last month before PSSAs all because "officially" she gave kids tokens after having a clean discipline record and being regarded by many different sources as an highly effective teacher.

What sucks about this entire situation is that in a weird way the SDP won. Of course they looked awful during this entire story. You couldn't find one politician or newspaper reporter that believed the SDP was in the right on this incident. But, they have sent a message clear as day to SDP staff about what happens if one dares to exercise their right to free speech. They have ensured that Audenried's Reading PSSA scores will not be as high as they should have been. And. of course, Universal is still going to get Audenried when all of the dust has settled. Quite frankly, now that PSSAs are about over, one has to think even Universal was saying to the SDP "make this story go away!"

I want to thank Hope for staying true to her ideals and not backing down. I want to thank TAG and the PFT for standing tall with Hope and organizing the rallies at 440. I want to thank my fellow teachers for not being afraid, not being intimidated, and being willing to stand up for Hope.

I just hope that the next time someone gets sent to teacher jail for shady reasons, that person will be as brave as Hope was in going public and the PFT, TAG and others will vociferously defend this person. The unreported story in this entire brouhaha is that there are many teachers put in teacher jail because they have been willing to stand up to their principal or other SDP administration. Obviously, this practice needs to stop and the SDP needs to reserve teacher jail for very serious incidents where it is imperative an employee is removed form a school for a period of time during a prompt investigation of the incident.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on March 18, 2011 11:46 pm

Bravo to the people who publicly supported this teacher. It's a more-than- acceptable result would not have happened without public pressure.

I don't think I've said this in at least forty years, but "POWER TO THE PEOPLE"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 18, 2011 11:01 pm

Well, that was a phenomenal waste of everyone's time.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on March 19, 2011 3:28 am

Wayman, Weiner, Nixon, Ackerman, Archie, et al - Are you now hanging your head in shame for the fiasco you created? You repeatedly lied in public about Moffett. Did Ackerman make a deal with Blackwell to help make this "go away" because it was obvious Moffett was being punished for speaking out? Unfortunately, it doesn't end the lies about "school data" and the backroom deals (e.g. Audenreid, King HS, West HS, etc.) affecting thousands of students and families. Will a memo go out to parent about the deals in the SDP or just about not notifying parents there was a possible demonstration led by a grandparent of the students?

This is an all time low for the SDP. Why is the Ackerman Regime and Archie's SRC still in power?

Submitted by Parent Who Can Think (not verified) on March 19, 2011 9:16 am

Ackerman and Co. have no concept of shame. The queen is probably indignant at the challenge to her authority - triply so because it was successful.

Kids at Aureneid not only lost the benefit of Ms. Moffett's teaching during the month before the PSSA that Ms. Ackerman claims is the tipping point on transforming the school, they did not have her calming guidance during the often stressful test. Why? Because the charlatan who cries "Children First" when reporters around, throws them in the bin when the last cameraman has left the room.

Submitted by we are anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 8:15 am

It's important to remember that we have won a battle and not the war. The SDP has yet to provide any data to support their assertion that Audenried is a failing school. Nunnery admitted publicly that he was presenting incorrect information to the community. Every school in this District is in danger if this goes through. Audenried's fight is every teacher's fight.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on March 19, 2011 9:01 am

 Congratulations to Hope Moffett, a model of committment to her students and resistance to those who would muzzle dissent.

The treatment of Moffett is part of a larger and ongoing struggle over what our schools need to improve.   What the actions of Moffett and hundreds of other teachers, parents and students have demonstrated is that we can make a difference.    Bullies only win when people look away and don't get involved.   

We all need to stay involved and reach out to the broader community.   The fight over the budget is the next big battle.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 3:01 pm


The Bullies are still in power at the SDP and unfortunately some are Philadelphia born and bred. There is an underlying threat or fear that administrator incompetence will be exposed by people who did not rise through the ranks and are not part of the "inside group". In a few instances the bullies may have held Building Representative positions under PFT and were rewarded for their tough demeanor when fighting for staff. That being said, once PFT you shouldn't have to be reminded where you came from!

Wayman, et. al. have scored a win because they are still in power and will find a new target unless the Anti-Bully campaign in place for students is expanded to include adults in the workplace.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 4:59 pm

Dr. Ackerman did not serve herself well but selecting Wayman as a member of her leadership team. Wayman is a bully, she is not very smart, and she lacks the interpersonal skills needed to move an agenda forward. Replacing Wayman with an intelligent, articulate person who has great interpersonal skills and can handle difficult situations with tact might be just what the Queen needs. Sometimes birds of a feather DO NOT need to flock together.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 9:31 am

Finally, the SDP makes a reasonable decision and Hope makes the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer!

Submitted by Tom Bishop (not verified) on March 19, 2011 9:02 am

It's time to abolish the SRC and return the schools to local control with a local school board. Would any community turn over their schools to private companies running the schools for profit?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 9:59 am

I agree.

Submitted by Parent Who Can Think (not verified) on March 19, 2011 10:06 am

I agree - an ELECTED school board, with parent and teacher (active teachers) participation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:27 pm

Yes, Pleease. As a parent, I don't want a bunch of businesspeople, lawyers and politicians making decisions that will affect my child's education in this city.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on March 19, 2011 11:31 am

Hooray. Glad Hope will be back inthe classroom. That is where she is needed - we all benefit from dedication like this.
A few comments have been madee that the school district won this and I cannot disagree - I just need to point out that some of this was a distraction from the bigger issue of what is still in the plans to happen to this school and others - the takeovers and conversions are still happening.
Hope - welcome home.

Submitted by Sanity N. Reason (not verified) on March 19, 2011 12:13 pm

pawn captures queen....CHECKMATE

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:11 pm

From the end of today's article in The Inquirer: "The district said in a news release: "Educating students is and will always be the No. 1 priority of the School District of Philadelphia. The parents of our students expect us to know the whereabouts of their children during school hours.""

Since this is the key takeaway the SDP wants us to believe is at the center of this issue, we need to hold the administration accountable! Show us the truancy data! The state auditor singled out the SDP for poor record keeping for the past decade! Where are the students? If they can't keep track of which students are in which schools and can't ensure the students are in school - safe and learning, then statements like this are ingenous! Show us the data! The Empress has no clothes!

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:23 pm

Wayman needs to release truancy data every day for ALL the high schools. How many students were absent each period throughout the day? Does the absentee number get larger as the day goes on? How many of the students who left during the course of the day were legally signed out by parents? Are ALL parents notified if their child was there for first period, but gone at some later point in the day? Are Ackerman or Wayman called by frantic principals each and every day because students have left school and are using their District supplied transpasses to go who-knows-where? Is Ackerman praying for the safety of all those children everyday? Do we even know how many kids are out of school on a daily basis?

Submitted by Stephanie Gaunay (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:41 pm

This comment needs to be written in chalk on the street in front of 440. Where is the data & where are our answers?!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 2:45 pm

If we care about our students - if we really care - then this does not stop here! Show us the data! Get our kids off the streets and back into our classrooms! Care enough about our children to do that SDP! And let your teachers do what they do best - get out if the way and let us teach! Stop selling out our students and schools to private companies! If you cannot provide the leadership, direction, support, and data, then the administration and SRC should step aside! You are not serving our students! You are passing the buck!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Congratulations to Hope for defeating the SDOP at their own evil game and for being returned to her students at Audenried. However, it is ridiculous and unfair for Hope to be punished with a one week suspension for failure to inform her principal that students walked out of the building. Didn't the newspaper report that Audenried's students were planning and talking about a walkout for an entire week prior to the actual walkout? If the principal of Audenried was unaware of the events that were brewing in her building for an entire week, then that speaks to the incompetence of the principal. Principals cannot afford to be oblivious to the events occuring in their building. Also, I am sure Hope was not the only staff member who knew students were planning to walk out of the building. Therefore, if Hope is going to be suspended, then every staff member who was aware of the walkout should also be suspended, which would probably amount to just about all of Audenried's staff; except, of course, the principal. The point I am making here is that informing the principal about a walkout does fall totally on Hope's shoulders. School police, NTA's, climate managers, and other people directly responsible for school climate are also responsible. These employees are the eyes and ears of the school. Also, how would Hope even know the students walked out, since she was probably in her classroom preparing for the start of her class or teaching her class? This is just Ridiculous. The PFT better make sure this teacher does not lose one penny of salary for this reason.

Submitted by Hope Moffett (not verified) on March 19, 2011 2:48 pm

My favorite part was that the District knew about the walkout before it occurred because Fox 29 was waiting outside of 440, having been notified in advance by the community. This led to a stream of phone calls into the school before the day had even begun warning the building to prevent the walkout.

The suspension is just moving to arbitration where the union will fight it. The statement is just the vehicle that returns me to the classroom and because it contains no untruths and is in fact just ridiculous, I have no problem making it.

Not informing my principal is not a crime, especially since many people in the building, community, and even local politicians were informed ahead of time.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 4:05 pm

Correction...Of course I meant to type "The point I am making here is that informing the principal about a walkout does NOT fall totally on Hope's shoulders." Sorry for this grave mistake.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:09 pm

I am very glad Hope will be back in the classroom. This is a small victory for the teachers and the PFT and a nightmare of poor PR for the Queen. We still need to keep fighting, though! We need to fight against the privitization of public schools, and we need to fight fro an ELECTED school board fro Philadelphia! The struggle continues.

Submitted by Teach! (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:32 pm

This is a HUGE victory for TAG Philly. I don't know much about the group, but I do know that until TAG hosted a rally of 600+ there had not been a rally by the PFT in over 10 years!!!! I think that the PFT could use the same shake up that Chicago received! Can we say "CORE"!!!
Jerry Jordan and the PFT might want to watch their back. They could find younger more passionate and progressive folks replacing them.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on March 19, 2011 3:09 pm

You are right, I meant to say TAG, too. I am a member, and I think they are a huge force for change and action right now. The next TAG even is this coming Wednesday:

We still have the budget to deal with!

Submitted by Stephanie Gaunay (not verified) on March 19, 2011 1:33 pm

Tim Bishop is correct: It's time to abolish the SRC.

Hope has been restored to her rightful place in the classroom [a month too late]. While this breakthrough needed to happen instantaneously DO NOT THINK this isn't all smoke & mirrors from the SRC. Once we "win" they know this story will be buried.

They are brilliant illusionists -- the auditors are calling them out, the press is calling them out and we have started. Dr. Ackerman stormed through San Francisco 'raising test scores.' In Washington DC she made "tremendous strides", what tremendous strides exactly? If you actually looked into the data scores were already on the rise. The only thing Ackerman brought to the table was a highlighter that arbitrarily selected excellent data and ignored stagnant scores and numbers.

***We are Philadelphia and when you mess with us we don't "call you out" -- we TAKE YOU OUT***

Our schools need to be run by the community, not by the illusion that the community is involved. I was at the SRC meeting on Wednesday and every community member, teacher and *CHILD* that had data that negated what Ackerman & the SRC presented to the press inaccurately was silenced mid-conversation with spats of "YOU NEED TO WRAP IT UP." "YEAH, WHAT'S YOUR NAME AGAIN?" or, for the truly compelling statements that could not be argued...just silence as a response.

However, when 'testimonies of greatness' came to adore the SRC, their impassioned responses were allowed to go on far longer than the 3 minute time limit. To be fair, each speaker probably stood for longer than 3 minutes -- but of the majority of people I actually timed before interruption from the SRC, they were stopped at around 4 minutes if they were opposed to SRC plans -- but allowed to extend beyond 7 minutes if they were in their favor. The SRCs heartfelt responses reminded those in the room that we are "doing this for the children".

I hate that: "for the children." What the heck am I doing this for? The money?! With all the incentives they are giving the teachers to work at the PRIVATE schools they are constituting, I am taking an $11,000 hit by not working at one, staying with my kids & sticking to my school. I don't need a humanitarian award -- but I think the PFT should be acknowledged for ***NOT ACCEPTING MONEY IN FAVOR OF TEACHING THE CHILDREN*** It's fine that we are "all here for the kids": it's about time the teachers are *also* acknowledged that we have our kids' best interests at heart.

This unacceptable treatment to the public and community would be impossible if we vote for our school board. We need to keep the train going full speed ahead to Harrisburg and we cannot stop until PHILADELPHIANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO ELECT THEIR SCHOOL BOARD.

--Stephanie Gaunay

California is facing a similar budget crisis much like our own. This link below shows how the superintendent responds to a teacher rally in a system where they elect their leaders.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on March 19, 2011 3:16 pm

You are so right, Stephanie. I was also at Wednesday's SRC meeting. It was sometimes quite Orwellian. If you would like, you can read my recollections here:

We need to GET RID of the SRC. We want an elected school board!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 2:56 pm

The Queen looses!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 11:30 pm

She has a couple of loose screws, but I think you mean "loses".

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on March 19, 2011 5:13 pm

I have a question... The new rules have each school paying the mailing costs for everything mailed home... is 440 paying for this mailing or is this another way 440 is hurting Hope's school??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2011 11:12 pm

So, if Hope returns to the classroom on Monday, then when does the suspension begin? Does the arbitrator need to render a decision before the District can enact the suspension?

Submitted by Ken (not verified) on March 20, 2011 7:07 am

The "suspension" if enacted is actually losing 5 days pay. Hope will continue to work during the suspension.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 20, 2011 8:21 am

I still do not get how Universal and Kenny Gamble can be given so much money to plan when people are about to lose their jobs! They had their chance and the result was that they not only lost Vare, but also Pierce. Now we give them more cash to lie about how they plan to do things. They did the planning last time and the students were definitely "NOT FIRST". Rather the fat pockets of the company and the district! Is this funding or maybe the queen could take a price cut just as the President of the country and the Mayor of the city did.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 20, 2011 10:45 am

Arlene Ackerman's administration is clearly a bunch of incompetent carpetbaggers. They are using Philadelphia's children as an experiment while they stuff their pockets. I am also concerned about the processed food they feed the children. They are making up things as they go with these various initiatives such as the Promise Academies. One day you teach this, the next day you teach that!!! Students and teachers are confused about what is expected of them as they threaten us with our jobs. Why would she announce job cuts a week before the PSSA? Was this by design? Do they REALLY expect us to succeed?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 20, 2011 2:22 pm

I'm no defender of Dr. Ackerman, but I don't think the fact that she is not from Philly is the main problem. Several people in her administration either have long histories in Philadelphia or are veterans of the SDP (Linda Cliatt-Wayman, Penny Nixon, Michael Masch, Leroy Nunnery, Diane Castelbuono, Estelle Matthews, Michael Silverman, to name a few). So even if coming from the outside were a problem, it doesn't really hold up as a critique of her administration.

Being abrasive, stubborn, vindictive, secretive, incompetent and untruthful -- those are legitimate critiques. Being from St. Louis (via Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and NYC) isn't.

Submitted by Philly HS Teacher (not verified) on March 20, 2011 3:08 pm

Yes, it is the Ackerman Administration's approach to school leadership. It nothing to do with Ackerman's list of residences. The list you cited are proof enough that Philadelphia has produced many people who think bullying, intimidating, threatening, and dictating from above will change schools.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 22, 2011 10:06 am

While I am happy that Hope was able to take a principled stand without getting fired, I can't help but feel that she did not necessarily get the best advice and support from the PFT. Ms. Moffett has always maintained that her stance was not based on her job, but on her insistence on speaking freely about the takeover of Audenreid. This stance deserves an enormous amount of respect. That said, I'm not sure exactly what was accomplished in the process. In my opinion, there is no way that her firing would have held up and the PSD knew it. The PSD did not cave because of Mondesire, Blackwell or public opinion - they simply knew that a legal case would set precedent that would hinder any future attempts to bully and manipulate outspoken teachers.

The PFT should have seized this moment and, rather than agree to have hope read an acknowledgement of her actions, demanded that the PSD publicly admit that they over-reacted, made charges without evidence, and agree to investigate the bullying of teachers throughout the district. It is the PSD who should apologize and the PFT should have forced this, or taken it to court where they likely would have established a more convincing and enduring victory.

I speak from personal experience. In January I was issued an Unsatisfactory Incident based on a malicious and intentionally misleading observation by one of Linda Cliatt-Wayman's underlings. I contacted the PFT who told me to ignore it - that Unsatisfactory Incidents are of no consequence. I ignored this ridiculous advice and resolved the matter on my own - without PFT support. I had plenty of documentation to easily refute the PSD's "observation" and my principal acknowledged that I was not in the wrong

I mention this because Cliatt-Wayman personally wrote an Unsatisfactory Incident on Ms. Moffett, and this was the document meant to justify the latter's firing. It is is disturbing that the PFT is unaware of what an Unsatisfactory Incident actually means.

I guess my concern is that Hope's individual case became a collective cause. Many of us marched on 440 TWICE in order to express our outrage. In the end, though, it became an individual's victory. Audenreid will still be handed over to Universal and no one at 440 is being held accountable for their egregious abuse of power.

I am certainly happy for Hope, but still fear for the future.

Submitted by Jane Ross (not verified) on September 3, 2011 11:52 am

> Moffett will be back in the classroom teaching on Monday, and that her proposed termination has been reduced to a five-day suspension.

I am very glad Hope is again in the classroom.It's definitely a victory for all the teachers (they have to be proud of it) as well as the the PFT and a nightmare of poor PR for the Queen. Keep us informed. -- Jane Ross, wide shoes for women enthusiast.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 3, 2011 12:05 pm

How is a five day suspension a "victory"? Hope should not have had anything done for daing to speak out other than an apology. Why is there shoe spam embedded into this message too?

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