Recent animosity between teachers and administrators has led the Depew Teachers Organization to hold a vote to demonstrate its lack of faith in district leadership.
In a letter to the Depew Board of Education dated Nov. 15 and obtained on Tuesday, the DTO Executive Committee states that curriculum decisions have been made by the administration without teacher input and that faculty concerns are being ignored. The letter further notes that the union’s committee unanimously passed votes of no confidence concerning Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey and Assistant Superintendent Susan Frey during its meeting Nov. 5.
“Our professional knowledge, experience and expertise appear to be of no value to Mr. Rabey and fellow administrators,” the DTO stated. “The membership believes that Mr. Rabey and Mrs. Frey are no longer able to effectively lead the teachers and the district in a positive and successful direction.”
Tension was evident during the School Board meeting Nov. 19, when implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards was discussed for nearly two hours.
While Rabey, Frey and several teachers touted the curriculum modules being used to assist in implementing Common Core, several parents and teachers voiced concerns that the modules are too difficult to use.
During the meeting, Rabey verified that while the Common Core is law, the modules are not mandatory. Some districts have opted not to use them and are building their own curricula, which would require time and resources Depew does not have, Rabey added. He said that teachers have been told to adapt the modules rather than adopt them, but this was met by jeers and a rumbling of “not true” from teachers.
The letter also stated that Rabey has diminished communication among the DTO, administration and Board of Education and that the work of teachers is left unacknowledged.
“Mr. Rabey’s managerial and communication styles have left the membership feeling bullied, neglected, and not supported by him and administration,” the committee stated.
Rabey was unavailable to comment Tuesday, but his office supplied the School Board’s response to the DTO. The rebuttal, dated Nov. 27 and signed by board President David Sheff, assures teachers that they are appreciated and emphasizes support for Rabey and Frey.
“We appreciate you bringing your concerns to the board’s attention,” Sheff stated. “Curriculum and student needs are, however, best left to the administration.”
Sheff added that the DTO’s reference to diminished communication pertains to the contract the union failed to ratify in 2012. The DTO’s request to discuss the contract with the board without Rabey present and without informing the district’s spokesperson, Tracie Lopardi, was inappropriate because it was an attempt to negotiate the contract outside of stipulated rules, Sheff said.
When reached Tuesday night, Sheff said that administrators are working to address teacher concerns by holding meetings this week to review the Common Core and to seek teacher feedback. The board stands behind the administration, he added.
“We’ve got every confidence in Mr. Rabey and Mrs. Frey,” he said.