This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell plans to introduce a resolution in City Council tomorrow calling for the retention of Audenried High School teacher Hope Moffett.
The resolution says that Moffett was removed from her classroom and recommended for termination "after expressing her personal opinions. " It calls the punishment "severe and unwarranted," saying she gave the students tokens "openly and with positive intentions."
Moffett had spoken out against District plans to convert Audenried to a charter school and gave tokens to students who used them to attend a protest at School District headquarters.
The District issued a statement in response saying that "we respect the opinions of all City Council members," but reiterating that "this is not an issue of First Amendment rights. It is an issue of endangering students’ safety and well-being."
Text of the resolution, dated March 17, 2011, follows:
Calling for the Retention of Audenried School Teacher Hope Moffett. Whereas, Audenried School teacher Hope Moffett was removed from her classroom after expressing her personal opinions concerning district plans to transform the school into a charter school and provided tokens to students who wanted to participate in a demonstration on February 15, 2011 against the change; and
Whereas, more then 1,000 teachers, students and union supporters rallied outside the Philadelphia School District’s headquarters on February 15th against proposed budget cuts; and
Whereas, Hope was assigned to an administrative office and former storage area known as the “rubber room” to sit in isolation for over ten (10) days; and
Whereas, Hope’s immediate removal from the classroom and assignment to the rubber room has been deemed unfair by the Philadelphia Federation of Teacher’s Union who stand in support of Moffett; and
Whereas, Audenried High School is one of the 18 schools designated for restructuring as part of Superintendent Dr. Arlene C. Ackerman’s academic reform initiative; and
Whereas, all school administration personnel, teachers, students, parents, residents and visitors in our City have a right to speak freely, without fear of retaliation or intimidation by others under our First Amendment rights; and
Whereas, in the midst of large-scale changes within the School District, the professional and personal opinions of all stakeholders are welcomed and encouraged; and
Whereas, it is severe and unwarranted sanction to be fired for an issue involving school tokens where it was done openly and with positive intentions; and
Whereas, it is important that students learn to be involved in educational experiences both inside and outside the classroom; and
Whereas, teaching with passion and understanding the needs of one’s students is important to the complete learning process; and now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia City Council hereby calls for the retention of Audenried High School teacher Hope Moffett.
Jannie L. Blackwell
Philadelphia City Council
3rd Council District
March 17, 2011