License in jeopardy
Reynoldsburg teacher allegedly encouraged kids to flunk pretest
A Reynoldsburg teacher under investigation for what Superintendent Steve Dackin called "an egregious violation of ... ethical responsibility" resigned last week before the district could complete its inquiry or take any disciplinary action.
Heather Campbell, who was in her second year teaching gifted middle school students attending Gateway Academy at Waggoner Road Middle School, allegedly urged fifth-graders not to try to pass a science pretest.
District officials believe the idea was that the students would then do well on the actual test, which would reflect well on the teacher.
The district has reported Campbell to the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Professional Conduct, which could take away her teaching license.
Tricia Moore, director of shared services and partnerships, said the district's new teacher evaluation system rates teachers on how much their students improve in a subject over a school year. Student academic growth accounts for half of a teacher's evaluation, with classroom observation making up the other half.
The Reynoldsburg Board of Education unanimously accepted Campbell's resignation during a rare emergency meeting Oct. 8.
Moore said Campbell administered the test to three classes of fifth-graders Sept. 13. A parent contacted the district after their child related that Campbell said the students could draw pictures on the test instead of answering the questions.
"It was obvious by the pictures and other marks on the tests that the students had not tried to pass the test," Moore said.
She said the district launched an investigation the day after the test was administered, but Campbell resigned before the investigation was complete or any disciplinary measures were considered.
Campbell denied the claims when interviewed by investigators, Moore said.
According to information from the investigation, students said Campbell told them she would "never tell them not to try hard again, only on this test" and that they should always do their best on state achievement tests.
Dackin said Campbell's conduct did not mesh with the district's most important job -- educating children.
"It was an egregious violation of that ethical responsibility," he said.
He said the district is currently trying to find a permanent replacement for Campbell, who previously taught in Columbus City Schools.
Dackin said investigators found no record of discipline in Campbell's personnel files from CCS.
Representatives from the Reynoldsburg Education Association, the union representing the district's teachers, had no comment on the teacher's resignation. Campbell also could not be reached for comment.