Audenried teacher expects disciplinary charges

Exiled Audenried High School teacher Hope Moffett met with two district officials Wednesday, but she's still in the "rubber room" and expects to face disciplinary charges, she said.

"They intend to keep me out of the classroom for the foreseeable future," she said in an interview.

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Hope Moffett is a teacher at Audenried High School.

In an hour-long "investigatory conference," Moffett - whose classroom ouster and subsequent refusal to remain silent on the subject have generated wide support for her among teachers - was charged with disclosing a document she had been directed not to discuss and allegedly endangering the welfare and safety of students.

The document was the letter ordering her removal from the classroom. Authorities say she endangered her students' welfare by giving an Audenried student leader tokens that were used to transport students to a Feb. 15 protest outside Philadelphia School District headquarters.

That day, about 50 students and others gathered to express their displeasure with the district's plans to turn their school into a charter.

Moffett said she had given the student tokens before the start of the school day and without knowledge of how students would implement their protest plans. At one point, the protest was scheduled for after school.

She was removed from her classroom and ordered to a basement administrative office - known as the "rubber room" among teachers - on Feb. 17.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan has defined the district's move to discipline Moffett as an "act of intimidation" and said the union would use any legal means within its power to defend teachers' right to free speech.

Moffett, 25, a third-year English teacher at Audenried, had received strong performance evaluations before her removal. But she has also been an outspoken critic at public meetings of the district's Renaissance plan, which would turn Audenried over to Universal Companies Inc. as a charter school.

Under that plan, any employee who wanted to remain at the school would have to reapply for his or her job and would no longer be a district employee.

Moffett said Linda Cliatt-Wayman, assistant superintendent for high schools, and Andy Rosen of the employee relations department had met with her and a union representative for about an hour Wednesday.

Next, she and the union representative will meet again with Cliatt-Wayman, who will recommend the next steps, which could include her return to the classroom, suspension without pay, or termination. She will remain in the rubber room until her case is resolved.

Moffett, who drew the loudest cheers at a teacher-led rally outside district headquarters that drew 500 last week, said she all the attention on her case surprised her.

"I spoke out on a very specific, individual issue particular to Audenried. I didn't make a decision that I needed to protect free speech for teachers. I didn't speak out because of union-busting trends, but because of events, my situation relates to those things as well," Moffett said.

A district spokeswoman said she could not comment on the conference because it was a personnel matter.

 


Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com.