This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School District did not even initiate an investigation that Audenried High School English teacher Hope Moffett had endangered the welfare of children, the main basis for her recommended termination, until after they had removed her from the classroom and read statements she made in the Notebook three days later, according to District documents.
Her reassignment occurred on February 17, two days after some of her students left school to protest against plans to convert their school to a charter under Universal Companies, Inc., and after she herself had spoken out against the move. The original letter provided no reason for the reassignment, but did contain a blanket gag order.
The Notebook has obtained a complete copy of the “204 form” outlining the District’s rationale for recommending that Moffett be fired. According to that document, Assistant Superintendent of High Schools Linda Cliatt-Wayman said that the initial reason for Moffett’s removal from the classroom and assignment to “teacher jail” was the need to “speak to” her and another Audenried teacher about “unrest” at the school.
The most serious charge the District has brought against Moffett is “endangering the safety and welfare of children” by providing students with SEPTA tokens on the day of the student walkout. In the document, Cliatt-Wayman cites as the basis for this charge an interview Moffett gave to The Notebook after her removal, in which she acknowledged that she gave students tokens. The interview was published on February 20.
“Ms. Moffett gave a second interview to the Notebook over the weekend of February 19-20…In this article Ms. Moffett admitted to providing students at Audenried with SEPTA tokens on February 15, the day they walked out of school…At this point, Ms. Moffett had now defied a directive, disclosed confidential paperwork, and admitted to providing tokens to students. Further investigation was required,” reads the document.
Moffett allegedly defied a District directive and disclosed confidential paperwork when she provided the Notebook with a copy of a letter informing her that she was being temporarily reassigned, in violation of the gag order.
Asked for a response, the School District reiterated its position against discussing individual personnel matters and sent a copy of relevant portions of the state School Code and the District’s code of employee conduct regarding student safety.
“It’s all based on the assertion in the Notebook article. That’s the beginning and the end of what they’ve shown me. They have no other evidence,” said Moffett.
In the 204 document, Cliatt-Wayman said she initially reassigned Moffett and the second Audenried staff member “so that I could speak with them."
“The week of February 14, 2011 there was unrest reported at Audenried High School…Based on the information I was receiving, there were two names that kept coming up of who would know what was happening at the school: Ms. Hope Moffett and another staff member…With all of the unrest, I needed to have a conversation with staff members who I believed could give me accurate information about what was happening,” reads the document.
The document contains no other mention of additional instances in which Moffett is alleged to have endangered the safety or welfare of students.
The other teacher, who was also removed from the classroom, was questioned and is now back at Audenried.
A hearing is scheduled for this morning at which Moffett and her union representative will formally hear the District’s recommendation for termination. It is possible that the School Reform Commission will vote on the recommendation as early as next Wednesday.