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Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 1999

POOR TREATMENT

September 7, 1999

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To the editor:

I am deeply disturbed by your Aug. 30 article concerning Stan Roth's dismissal as a biology teacher, apparently chiefly for his "controversial demeanor," or direct, no-nonsense approach.

This dismissal was in spite of the fact that Roth had proven to be an effective, outstanding teacher for 40 years at the two high schools in Lawrence. I am appalled that a veteran teacher could be treated in such a summary, disgraceful manner and not even given one last year to teach as he had requested. Why did Superintendent Williams say his transfer to a non-teaching job "wasn't negotiable" with no middle ground for probation or counseling? That, I should think, was the very least that he deserved after so many years of dedicated service.

It also is disturbing that apparently a small but very vocal minority of parents could help to bring about his dismissal. According to the Journal-World article, one disgruntled parent had written five letters to protest Mr. Roth's blunt refusal to balance a section on evolution with a section on creationism. Must a veteran teacher yield to every parent's dogmatic, religious beliefs no matter how non-scientific he believes them to be? Apparently he must if he wishes to continue to teach.

I taught at Lawrence High School for 20 years and I'm proud to say that the administration always backed me 100 percent. Mr. Roth deserved the same, but he did not get it. What message does this give to current and would-be teachers in the future?

I suspect that for every crank or critic, the administration, if it had looked, would have found the vast majority feels that Mr. Roth is one of the finest teachers in the system. Has the current administration no backbone at all to defend and protect proven, professional teachers like Stan?

Although it is now too late to right a wrong, Mr. Roth deserves, at the very least, an apology from those who brought about the dismissal of a brilliant, dedicated teacher.

Harold Piehler,

Lawrence.

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