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Board Votes To Reinstate Ousted Algebra Teacher

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The Indian River, Del., school board voted last week to reinstate Adele Jones, the algebra teacher whose firing last spring for giving too many students poor grades touched off a national debate.

The 5-to-4 vote came after a Delaware Superior Court judge ordered that the school board take another vote on Ms. Jones's case. The board's first vote, the judge ruled, violated procedures because members failed to review all of the documents in the case. (See Education Week, Sept. 15, 1994.)

"We're delighted with the results of the school board vote,'' said Earlene Gillan-Smith, the president of the Delaware State Education Association, which appealed Ms. Jones's firing. "This is a step in the right direction.''

The vote to fire Ms. Jones in June 1993 was 6 to 4. Since that time, three new members have joined the board, all of whom voted for reinstatement, Ms. Gillan-Smith said.

In addition, Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves had ruled that one board member had to abstain from the second vote because of a conflict of interest; the member's children had received poor grades in Ms. Jones's mathematics classes.

Ms. Jones, who could not be reached for comment, will resume teaching at Sussex Central High School as soon as she finishes duties associated with her part-time jobs, the state union president said. She will receive full back pay.

Administrators had argued that Ms. Jones was an incompetent teacher because large numbers of her students received D's and F's, but the teacher insisted that she could not pass students who did not do their work and study hard. Those who did, she said, earned acceptable grades in her class.

The debate over standards and accountability hit a nerve with the national media. Ms. Jones's story was told in major newspapers and on network television.

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