Education Letter to the Editor

N.Y. Teacher-Plantiff Cites Evidence in Her Behalf

November 02, 2004 3 min read

To the Editor:

In your Oct. 13, 2004, article reviewing recent education-related actions of the U.S. Supreme Court (“High Court Declines Appeal From Teacher Who Published Tests”), you make note of the court’s denial of certiorari in my case. I am concerned about the statement referring to the Northern District Court’s and U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit’s assertion that the Amsterdam, N.Y., school district had cited what you call “plausible justifications” not to renew my two-year contract (which ended in June 1992). The court’s assertion, standing alone and outside of context of litigation, may give the impression that the court record did not contain any contrary evidence—which it certainly did.

One example among many are the following statements made by former Amsterdam Superintendent of Schools H. Alan Brown, in his sworn affidavit submitted to the court in my behalf, which summarize and are based upon highly factual and highly specific statements in other parts of his affidavit:

¶4. “During the period of Oct. 16, 1989-June 30, 1991, when I was her Superintendent and immediate supervisor, Donna was an outstanding educator and human being in every respect.”

¶21. “During the period when I worked with her from Oct. 1989-June 1991, Donna was a ‘people person.’ She was warm, outgoing, and an excellent listener. She worked extremely well in group settings, as demonstrated in such successful projects as the Middle School Plan, Elementary Curriculum Council, and Superintendent’s Conference Day. This was one of the many strengths that she brought to the job.”

¶31. “Donna brought many strengths to her position. First, and most important, was her understanding of curriculum development. She is truly an expert in this field and commanded the respect of staff members at all levels because of her extensive knowledge.”

¶69. “Donna’s job performance as Director of Instruction was at least equal to and in many ways superior to the other GASD Directors who I supervised as [Greater Amsterdam School District] Superintendent of Schools and who had been granted tenure by the GASD . . . ”

¶70. “On the basis of my experience working with Donna (as described in the Affidavit), I believe that the assertion that Donna Moss suddenly went from being the excellent and outstanding administrator that I knew to being so incompetent that she did not even deserve to be employed in the Greater Amsterdam School District is farfetched, prohibitively unlikely, and altogether unbelievable.”

¶71. “Moreover the assertion that Donna Moss was terminated from her position as Director of Instruction of the GASD because her job performance was allegedly incompetent or unsatisfactory is likewise and for the same reasons absolutely incredible.”

The courts studiously ignored and would not allow a jury to decide the probative value and credibility of this (and much other) evidence, which I feel clearly should have been allowed under the controlling case of Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Inc.

However, with the publication of your Oct. 13 article, in a newspaper that is read by everyone in the education community (including my present employers and education colleagues), it becomes more than just a matter of what the courts held, but also one of allowing your readers to know that there were two sides to the story, and that a former superintendent of my district vigorously and unequivocally supported (under oath) my side of the story: that I was an excellent and outstanding employee and that the Amsterdam district’s cited justifications for firing me were not in fact “plausible.”

I am requesting that you publish this letter in full, so that my 12-year struggle to vindicate my rights under our Constitution does not end up negatively impacting my present (and extremely successful) practice and efforts to advance in my chosen field of education.

Donna J. Moss

Kingston, N.Y.

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