LAUSD or ‘Jailed’ Teachers: Who’s Telling the Truth?

EDUCATION POLITICS - While polygraph or lie detector tests remain inadmissible in most courts and other proceedings, given their significantly increased reliability, there might just be an application at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):  use it to determine who’s lying when it comes to allegations of teacher misconduct. 

Even though polygraph testing has become more and more reliable for showing who’s telling the truth between two individuals, it still may not identify deception on an individual basis. But what if we weren't dealing with individuals, but rather groups of targeted ex-LAUSD teachers who continue to profess their innocence of wrong doing after either being forced into early retirement or fired based on charges they continue to maintain are false and completely fabricated -- as is currently the case of nationally recognized teacher Rafe Esquith? 

What if all or a significant portion of the thousands of such teachers agreed to pay for and submit to a polygraph test? This might show that they or the vast majority of them are telling the truth concerning false charges of immorality or other alleged bad acts used by LAUSD to force them out of their teaching jobs (for a windfall financial savings,) replacing them with emergency-credentialed fresh-out-of-college graduates paid at a fraction of the cost. 

Now, the LAUSD administrators, who built the files used to remove these top salary scale teachers from their careers, would not have to take a polygraph. But wouldn’t their refusal to submit to one be a clear indicator of their lack of veracity -- that the charges of improper conduct they brought against the teachers should be removed? Otherwise, what possible justification would that have for not submitting to such a test, when a teacher's career hangs in the balance? 

While there still might be a reasonable doubt about the results of any single polygraph test, there is no expert in this technology who would question aggregated results of hundreds of teachers and administrators when it comes to showing who is really telling the truth. 

"The results of polygraph tests known as psychophysiological veracity (PV) examinations are admissible in a court of law if the particular polygraph technique used in the proffered PV examination meets the Daubert standard to the satisfaction of the presiding judge who acts as the gatekeeper of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Recent advances in polygraph instrument technology and polygraph techniques that have been validated by scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals that meet the Daubert standard should open the field for renewed challenges to rules of inadmissibility. As of 1 May 2009, 18 states have adopted the Daubert standard of admissibility and the judicial door is open for other states to follow." 

Here are some questions a qualified polygraph operator might ask of LAUSD principals and other administrators who have brought charges against teachers: 

1. Were you ordered by your superiors to target teachers at the top of the salary scale? 

2. Were you told that your advancement as an administrator depended on how many top salary scale teachers you were able to force out at LAUSD? 

3. Were you ordered by your superiors to target teachers about to vest in expensive and unfunded lifetime health benefits before they vested under the Rule of 80, which allows them to vest when their age and years of service equals 80? 

4.  Were you ordered by your superiors to target more disabled teachers who cost LAUSD more because of the accommodations they are legally entitled to? 

5.  Did you "build a file" made up of untrue or exaggerated charges in order to justify either forcing the teacher to quit or retire? 

6.  Did you displace teachers from their assignments who had higher seniority than those you kept? 

7.  Did you keep teachers working on an emergency credential, while displacing fully credentialed teachers? 

8.  Did you fix attendance records to show students present when they actually were not? 

9.  Did you encourage students to be disruptive in a targeted teacher’s class? 

10. Did you use a student to spy on his or her teacher? 

11. Did you meet with students privately and suggest negative comments they could put in a letter about their teacher? 

12. Did you exclude any positive evidence from a teacher's work record? 

13. Have you fixed students' grades and/or test scores? 

14. Have you encouraged teachers to give a passing grade to students not doing passing work? 

15. Have you retaliated against teachers who refused to go along with this? 

Feel free to post your own questions, but in the final analysis, you really don't need a polygraph test to ferret out LAUSD administrators and their disingenuous premeditated attacks on high seniority teachers or anybody else who stands against maintaining mediocre public education at LAUSD. All you have to do is ask them. 

In my own case, Mr. Johnson from the LAUSD Office of Inspector General testified under oath that he gave my whistleblower complaint about the alleged fixing of grades, graduation, and attendance (in complete derogation of any academic standards) by my principal Janet Seary and her superior Jan Davis to Seary and Davis to be investigated. 

When Johnson, with 30 years of experience as an inspector general, was asked under oath, "Did you look into any exculpatory evidence regarding charges brought by Principal Seary against Mr. Isenberg," Mr. Johnson responded, "What's that?"


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com ) Secondary editor: Linda Abrams.





Vol 13 Issue 59

Pub: Jul 21, 2015