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Minneapolis teen moms win settlement over unlicensed teachers

  • Article by: Steve Brandt
  • Star Tribune
  • September 12, 2013 - 9:44 AM

 

More than 600 young mothers who were taught by unlicensed teachers at Broadway High School in Minneapolis would share more than $400,000 to further their education in a proposed settlement that a court has been asked to approve.

The proposal was approved by the school board on Tuesday night and filed in Hennepin County District Court on Wednesday. It settles a licensing fiasco discovered in 2011 that left the school district red-faced.

“None of us is proud of what happened at Broadway,” Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said. She said the settlement will help the 657 affected students who attended Broadway from the 2008-2009 through 2010-2011 school years achieve their educational goals.

The school serves girls who dropped out of school and then returned as young mothers. It was formerly located on W. Broadway in a site now occupied by the district’s new headquarters, and now is at Longfellow school.

Johnson added that she’s proud of strides made to improve the school since it was given a fresh start three years ago.

A district investigation found that 13 people had taught at Broadway without proper licenses or waivers that would allow them to teach temporarily. Only two teachers taught under license waivers at the school last year, according to the district.

The disclosure that unlicensed teachers were in classrooms caused 45 students to have 91 credits shifted from core classes to electives, delaying their progress toward graduation. Those students will be eligible to get reimbursement for future schooling of $254 for each affected Broadway credit. The district also gave them extra opportunities in 2011 to make up affected credits.

The remaining students who were affected will get $244 for each credit earned. Students may also redeem the value of their educational benefits for one-third of their value in cash, the district said.

Joshua Williams, an attorney representing the girls in the class-action suit, said they “are satisfied with the settlement and believe it represents an equitable resolution to an unfortunate situation.” The legal action was served on the district last year but not filed until Wednesday because Johnson opted to try to reach a settlement with help from an outside mediator.

Money from the proposed $404,934 settlement may be used for three years for GED classes, online courses, vocational training, or other high school or college classes. It can also be used for child care and travel costs for going to school, books and other supplies, educational technology or educational or career counseling.

The district said it used a “fresh start” process to revamp the school with project-based learning. A state review of the school conducted earlier this year for a federal turnaround grant found that it produced one of the highest growth rates for math scores among students learning English in the district.

The review also said that students rated their teachers highly.

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

Twitter: @brandtstrib

 

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