On Friday, December 1, 2017, Mrs. Heidi Thompson, 4th Grade Lead Teacher at the Roger Bacon Academy's Charter Day School, led a normal day of teaching her beloved students. When her students went home for the day, Mrs. Thompson was separated from her peers by administration and was advised she was being terminated, that she needed to clear out her classroom, and turn over her keys. This sudden termination comes as a shock to all of us. Not only do we want answers, but we want justice for Mrs. Thompson.
Here is what we know:
-Mrs. Thompson taught at CDS for 11 years after having obtained a BA in English, BFA in Creative Writing, and an Elementary Education Teaching Licensure for K-6.
-During her 11 years of service, she was disciplined for "deviating from the curriculum" TWICE. At least one of these occurrences may have been cited as reason for termination, which happened in response to multiple students getting physically ill from potential anxiety related to an upcoming hard test. Mrs. Thompson felt it was in the best interest of the students to re-work the test and felt she had gone through proper procedures to obtain permission to do so.
-During her 11 years of service, Mrs. Thompson was disciplined ONCE for posting a video of her students singing to instagram during school hours, which also may have been cited as a reason for termination. This occurred on October 31 (Halloween), which as parents we know is a fun day of Trunk or Treating and activities - a far cry from a normal day of instruction.
-Mrs. Thompson was addressed for "speaking ugly to" an assistant teacher. Those who know Mrs. Thompson are aware this would be uncharacteristic of her loving and positive demeanor, especially with at least one student being present in the room at the time. Additionally, this occurred in Mrs. Thompson's classroom which was being recorded. No video evidence of such confrontation has been presented. While Mrs. Thompson had been with the school for 11 years, the word of a 2-month employee was taken without question.
-Based on her length of service with the school, Mrs. Thompson was one of the higher paid teachers and was hired by the schools original Headmaster, Mr. Cramer. Other teachers hired by Mr. Cramer have voiced they have felt targeted in the past.
Other things to note:
-Mrs. Thompson started a FREE chess club for students after school.
-Mrs. Thompson was the schools certified yoga instructor, teaching children after school.
-Mrs. Thompson once performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking student, possibly saving their life.
-Mrs. Thompson is known by many students as their emotional safe haven, a reflection of her caring demeanor.
-Among parents, Mrs. Thompson has the reputation of putting her students first, communicates well by being accessible and responsive, and is trustworthy due to her genuine approach that puts students first.
-Mrs. Thompson's termination occurred two weeks before Christmas break. In a time of year already filled with distractions, the students are now being impacted by having to question the loss of their teacher without notice. Mrs. Thompson did not get the opportunity to say goodbye. If the termination was necessary, there certainly wasn't a pressing issue at hand that couldn't have waited for her dismissal to occur over Christmas break, which would have been less impacting to her class.
-The students arrived to school Monday morning to a bare classroom - not a warm welcome for a Monday morning.
-The students received a letter of notification on Monday that implies that Mrs. Thompson chose to leave. This was paired with a discussion led by the assistant Headmaster that implied that Mrs. Thompson had a lot going on in her personal life and no longer wanted to teach. After students were made aware that Mrs. Thompson was, in fact, terminated, this caused more confusion and outrage from the students as they feel lied to by administration.
-The timing of the termination occurred directly after the completion of the Parent Satisfaction Surveys and the Letters of Intent to return for next school year.
-Mrs. Thompson has been left without a job and directly before the holidays.
-Parents are not receiving responses from letters to the Board of Trustees. When addressing the Headmasters, parents receive a copied and pasted response that states they cannot discuss the manner.
-Mrs. Thompson's daughter is still attending school. The extreme and sudden action taken has caused whispers among the students which is impacting Mrs. Thompson's daughter's day to day life as she takes this stress home with her.
Other options were available:
RBA Corporate is inconsistent in its business practices. Many teachers have received far more than 3 disciplinary actions in less than the 11 years Mrs. Thompson has been employed by RBA. For a teacher with 3 disciplines in 11 years, the following measures should have been taken prior to or during termination:
-Removal of Mrs. Thompson as Lead Teacher
-Probationary Period with a documented action plan and coaching
-Allow Mrs. Thompson to resign, rather than a termination that will show on her record
-Provide a severance package to carry through the end of the school year.
What we want:
1. A severance package provided to Mrs. Thompson that aligns with the extreme and sudden situation and the well known difficulties of trying to obtain a new teaching position in the middle of the school year.
2. The removal of the termination from Mrs. Thompson's record, allowing her to more easily reapply for employment.
3. Answers: as parents of children who attend the school, we should be aware of a consistent process that is followed prior to the termination of a teacher.
Please sign and share in the comments your personal testimony of experiences with Mrs. Thompson.