Members of the New Bedford School Committee and Community,
My name is Karla Ayers Tedeschi and I was a 7th grade science teacher at Keith from 2009 until November of 2015. I tendered my resignation on October 22, 2015 and had an exit interview where I described my reasons for leaving:
1. The unsafe climate for staff and students caused by ineffective and dangerous practices used by the new administration
2. Being asked to lie to parents about the safety of their children in my dangerously overcrowded lab
I understand that it was reported that I went to a suburban district. In truth, I am working in an urban middle school in Fall River that was described as having “the same population of students as Keith.” I informed them that I loved my students and they had never been the problem.
The problem lies with an administration that has worked to silence and discredit the parents, teachers, and students. An administration that has to have a PR person to spin their version of reality. Threats of reprisal, secrecy, and half-truths have dominated this once great district. I am here to give a voice to friends and former co-workers too scared to speak. It is time for the fear to end, the lies to stop, and the secrets to come to light.
We need to discuss:
• The fact that the High School has “high Advanced Placement enrollment” however, the school lacks the number of certified AP teachers so our students have low scores and cannot qualify for college credit. This year, there are not enough teachers or subs and some students report to an empty class to receive an “A” just for showing up. Data can be massaged to show improvement, but we are actually failing these students.
• The fact that there is a climate of fear in this district with teachers being color coded as targets for repeated negative evaluations. Teachers designated as “black” need to be removed by the end of the year- regardless of their actual professional abilities.
• The fact that the staff are so devalued that when a new teacher was sexually harassed by a student, telling the teacher “Close your legs, it smells like fish” and then elbowing the teacher in the crotch, the administrator told the teacher that they would have to learn to deal with the student because they were coming right back.
• The fact that administrators are telling teachers that “appearance is everything” apparently above the safety and well-being of the staff and students. When a student smoked synthetic marijuana and passed out in a bathroom, the response of the administrator was to repeatedly yell, “Don’t call the police!” instead of checking on the welfare of the child.
• The fact that a culture of violence has blossomed at Keith in the vacuum created by an impotent and absent administration. Where students threw desks and books at teachers, calling them, “F*ing N-words!” and were returned to class. Where a student was beaten into unconsciousness so badly that they urinated themselves. Where students are terrified to report other students bringing guns into school because nothing is solved- just covered up; no media, no tallies of ambulances, no police reports, no records. So now, teachers know to make triple copies of office referrals and to pass them to the caring SROs and Court Officers because they will not be documented by the administration.
It is true that “Turn-around isn’t for everyone” but no one exemplifies this more than the administration. “So what? Now what?” fix the administrative incompetence, bullying, and lies that are driving this district into the ground and hurting our children.
Thank you for your attention,
Karla Ayers Tedeschi