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 Victimization: Suspended 'Freedom Writers' teacher to take severance

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Victimization: Suspended 'Freedom Writers' teacher to take severance Vide
PostSubject: Victimization: Suspended 'Freedom Writers' teacher to take severance   Victimization: Suspended 'Freedom Writers' teacher to take severance Icon_minitimeWed Mar 12, 2008 2:09 am

A Perry Township teacher suspended for using the controversial "Freedom Writers Diary" in her classroom against supervisors' orders said Monday that she will resign under a negotiated settlement rather than fight to keep her job.

Perry Meridian High School teacher Connie Heermann was scheduled to appear today before the Perry Township School Board, a hearing that would be canceled if Heermann sticks to her decision on the settlement, which also must be approved by the board.
"I believe I would not win my hearing," Heermann said Monday afternoon. "We are going to take their settlement."
Heermann used the book "Freedom Writers Diary," a compilation of writings that inspired the 2007 movie "Freedom Writers." Perry Meridian administrators had ordered her not to use the book because they were troubled by racial epithets and sexual content in some of the writings.
School leaders placed her on administrative leave in November and moved to fire the 27-year Perry Meridian teacher. Heermann planned to appeal that move in the hearing today.
Heermann, 50, said the agreement allows her to resign rather than be fired. She said she would be paid through the end of the school year, receiving $1,032 per week minus insurance premiums and other deductions.
Erin Gruwell, the California teacher whose work with underachieving students inspired "Freedom Writers," said Monday that she was prepared to travel to Indianapolis to help Heermann.
Her schedule prevented her from attending the hearing scheduled for this afternoon, although Gruwell had offered to make a stop Wednesday, when the hearing was expected to continue.
The two have communicated since Heermann attended a teaching workshop with Gruwell last summer.
Gruwell said her book has stirred controversy in only a few other districts nationwide despite being widely used. To her knowledge, she said, Perry Township is the only school district in the nation where a teacher has lost a job over using the book.
Perry Township School Board President Barbara Thompson said the disciplinary actions against Heermann, however, resulted from insubordination, not simply over the controversial book itself.
Thompson disagreed with administrators' decision not to allow "Freedom Writers Diary" as part of the high school curriculum, she said, but she supports administrators' authority to make such decisions.
"Without hearing the evidence, I regret that Connie Heermann did not apparently go through the process to get 'Freedom Writers' accepted as part of the curriculum," Thompson said Monday.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080311/LOCAL1801/803110366
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