All that Mary Logan’s high school students could talk about was the chilly Michigan classroom temperature — 58 degrees, to be exact, and in violation of the school building contract code. So Logan wrote a note to students instructing them to tell their parents to call the school board if they were cold. The note, projected on her screen, would get her temporarily suspended from teaching.
“It’s 58 degrees in here. No heat,” Logan’s note read. “Call your parents. Tell them to call the board office … if you are cold.”
After receiving calls from concerned parents about the heating issues, the Taylor School District directed the school to place Logan on paid administrative leave for three days along with a record of the disciplinary reprimand in her file.
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“It violates her freedom of speech and keeps us from doing our job,” Linda Moore, the president of the Taylor Federation of Teachers, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They’re there to instruct, but if the conversation is that it’s too cold or it’s too hot, they can’t teach.”
The school’s inconsistent heating issues stem from the original “open concept” design of the building with walls that didn’t touch the ceiling, the News-Herald reports. While the district later closed the gap between the wall and ceiling, it left some rooms with vents and others without.
“The short-term solution is to go room-by-room adjusting and optimizing airflow,” Ben Williams, the Taylor School District superintendent, told the News-Herald. “We have over 65 classrooms inhabited every hour. On a given day, four to six classrooms run a little hot or cold. In extreme cases, the principal does have discretion to relocate a class.”
Moore says the Taylor High School building administrator had reported the temperatures to the school county board but had received little to no response on how it would be dealing with the issue. Moore adds that she and other teachers asked the school district administration directly in a meeting how they should communicate to parents about the issue. Again, they were given no direction.
“They really didn’t notify parents, and for us it’s simple. We send a letter home to parents telling them here’s the issue and here’s how we’re working to fix it,” Moore explains of her frustration. “Our biggest problem is that this teacher was advocating for kids.”
While Williams refused to comment on Logan’s suspension specifically, he told the News-Herald that there is a “work order system” in place for staff to make complaints to the school district.
“Two or three work orders make it into the system at the high school each day, with four to five smaller things getting solved in-house. Without the work order, we can’t figure out how to triage for a given problem,” Williams said.
Following Logan’s suspension, the teachers’ union filed a grievance with the school county district, which agreed to put space heaters in the cold classrooms while waiting for a long-term solution. Although Moore knows the building’s issues are not “an easy fix,” she says, “To hold a teacher accountable for something that she has no control over is inappropriate.”
“She’s a longtime teacher, and she now has a reprimand on her file. We’re a district that’s always been a family, and it’s causing low morale,” says Moore. However, the Taylor School District’s disciplinary action against Logan isn’t an isolated incident. According to Moore, the “discipline of our teachers and our support staff and the principals has been rampant.”
She adds, “Teachers should not be walking on eggshells when they go to work every day. They’re there to educate, and they need to be building relationships with the districts and their students — now people are afraid of this current administration. ”
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to the Taylor School District superintendent for comment on the story but has yet to receive a response.
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