Teacher beats student. Beating gets recorded. Teacher gets fired. Teacher will not loose her teaching certificate because she doesn’t have one; it’s not a requirement for most charter school teachers in Texas. Charter schools have been operating in Texas since 1995.
Houston teacher fired for beating student in class (The Associated Press, May 11, 2010)
HOUSTON — A charter school fired a science teacher after a student shot cell phone video of her beating a 13-year-old classmate.
Sheri Lynn Davis, 40, was fired from her job at the Jamie's House Charter School on Monday night.
Principal David Jones said he reviewed the video and determined there was "no excuse for a teacher to behave in this way with a child."
KRIV-TV in Houston reported that the video was shot in late April.
The student who was beaten, Isaiah Johnson, received a black eye and other bruises in the attack, said his mother, Alesha Johnson.
School spokeswoman Sue Davis, who is not related to the teacher, said Tuesday that Sheri Lynn Davis was put on administrative leave May 5, after the boy's mother notified the school about the incident.
There was no online telephone listing for a Sheri Lynn Davis in Houston. Someone named Sheri Davis had a telephone number but it was unpublished.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident, Deputy Janie Wagner said. She declined to elaborate.
Isaiah Johnson is still enrolled in the school and was attending classes Tuesday, Sue Davis said.
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Texas law on charter schools has big loophole (Houston Chronicle, May 12, 2010)
A Harris County charter school teacher caught on video beating up a student last month could face criminal charges, but she will not lose her teaching certificate.
That's because Sheri Lynn Davis, 40, doesn't have one.
As a science teacher at a charter school, she didn't need to be certified. Texas law requires charter schools to hire certified teachers only in the areas of bilingual and special education.
The state's charter school law is designed to give the campuses more freedom in hiring, but Davis' case illustrates a little-discussed loophole: If teachers aren't certified by the state, then the state has no power to sanction them. Their records are clean if they apply for other teaching jobs. In fact, they don't have a record at all with the State Board for Educator Certification.
Any punishment would have to come through the court system, said Debbie Ratcliffe, spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations against Davis, who was fired this week from Jamie's House Charter School in north Harris County. A cell phone video, shot by a student, shows the teacher dragging a 13-year-old boy across the floor, apparently kicking him in the back, slapping his face and slamming his head against a classroom wall.
Davis has not made any public comments.
Jamie's House Charter School did not respond Wednesday to questions about Davis' qualifications but said she had worked there for three years without any complaints. Her 10-month salary was $32,000.
‘Got to be a way'
State Rep. Rob Eissler, who chairs the House Public Education Committee, said he will ask his colleagues to study whether there's a way to ensure that non-certified teachers who get in trouble can't hide in the system.
“There's got to be a way to prevent that,” he said.
The Republican from The Woodlands noted that a 2007 state law requires all Texas public schools, including charters, to fingerprint and conduct national criminal background checks on all teaching applicants. If a noncertified teacher were charged with a crime, the school should be alerted through the check.
State Rep. Scott Hochberg, a Houston Democrat, suggested another solution: Require charter schools to hire certified teachers, just like traditional public schools.
“There are so many avenues available to become certified that I don't think we should be allowing noncertified teachers to teach,” he said.
High school diploma
To get certified in Texas, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree, complete an educator preparation program (through a college or an alternative provider) and pass the certification exams.
State law requires most charter school teachers to have only a high school diploma. But to meet federal standards, those teaching core subjects such as math and science must have a bachelor's and demonstrate competency in the subject they're teaching.
Private school teachers aren't held to any state standards.
David Dunn, the executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association, said that simply requiring certification of all teachers wouldn't prevent misbehavior.
“There are certified teachers who misbehave,” he said. “Certification does not equal protection. The real protection around student safety is the criminal history background checks that all public schools in the state of Texas are required to do.”But certified teachers are held to stricter standards by the State Board for Educator Certification. The board, for example, can investigate certified teachers even if they are not charged with a crime, and their certificate, which is available to the public online, is flagged.