DENVER -- A show of support Thursday night at a Denver School Board meeting for a teacher whose job is on the line after accusations of bullying a child.
We first told you about the issue in June. A mother was at her wit’s end about what happened at her 14-year-old son’s 8th grade continuation ceremony at Grant Ranch School.
More than a year later, one word written on that 14-year-old's continuation certificate could cost Liz Peel, an 18-year veteran teacher, her job.
Peel is accused of scratching out “completed” and writing in “attended” on the certificate of the the student, who is also dyslexic.
The employment of Peel, was not on the board’s agenda Thursday. But that didn’t stop her supporters and critics from showing up to speak their minds, especially since the superintendent is recommending Peel be terminated.
“These teachers, I think, need to watch themselves sometimes, because they could hurt people’s feelings,” said Arias Romero, 14, the student whose certificate was defaced.
Romero’s mom, Desiree Conklin, says Peel and other teachers didn't feel her son earned the privilege of attending the continuation ceremony.
She says teachers even asked if they could change the certificates. The principal told them no, but it happened anyway.
The school district released this statement:
“We are greatly concerned by the events at the Grant Ranch continuation ceremony. Several students and their families were deeply hurt that their continuation certificates were crudely altered in direct contravention of the school principal’s clear direction, and they were treated disrespectfully at a public ceremony intended to highlight and celebrate the students.”
Some of Peel’s supporters asked for mercy of the board that holds her future in their hands.
“Principals told 8th grade teachers to sign documents that a student met requirements of 8th grade," parent Niki Mitchell said. "They were told to lie on documents. Clearly, this is unethical. Yet, Peel has been fired."
“Now the Grant Ranch administration has betrayed its teachers and bent over backward for a parent and student that don’t fully deserve it," former student Victoria Pumilio said. "The administration is willing to throw an amazing teacher under the bus."
But Conklin isn't backing down. In fact, she said she plans to further her efforts.
She told the board her fight now is not just with Peel, but with the mindset she says some educators have about students with special needs.
“I am not stopping here," Conklin said. "I will fight this fight for my son and all children who struggle academically until there is a change because he deserves that."
Peel is on administrative leave until a decision is made on her future with the district.
An administrative judge is reviewing the facts of the case. That judge will then make a recommendation to the board.
Only the board can fire Peel. But the board is not bound by the judge’s recommendation.
A decision could take months.