The daughter and grandson were not buzzed in the front door, where identification is checked and visitors sign in for security reasons. Instead, they were assisted in entering through a side door – in violation of district policy – by the teacher, Patricia Evans, according to an agreement approved by the School Board and signed by Evans.
The School Board approved the “letter of reprimand and last chance agreement” in a 7-1 vote Dec. 17. School Board Member David Patton voted against the agreement, saying he did not agree with the method used to correct the issue.
“The teacher was negligent as far as caring after the safety of our kids and staff and everyone else in the building,” Patton said.
Evans did not respond to a request for comment. A teachers’ union representative said in an email that the union does not publicly discuss individual members’ personnel matters, and Superintendent Richard Hughes declined to comment. The agreement includes a confidentiality clause, where both sides agree not to divulge any information about the agreement except where required by law. The Buffalo News obtained the agreement after requesting it through the Freedom of Information Law.
The situation was discovered following a lockdown at the high school Sept. 23 after the school administration received email threats. During a lockdown, students and staff stay inside their rooms with doors and windows locked, according to the school safety plan. A lockdown is called for an immediate or imminent threat to the school building, and after it begins, no one is to exit or enter the room until the all-clear sign is given, according to the plan.
Evans, a tenured teacher who was highly regarded by students and parents, was removed from her teaching duties in the high school several days after the lockdown.
The district conducted an investigation into the allegations that Evans’ grandson and daughter were in her classroom “numerous times over the last year and-a-half including times when instruction with students occurred,” according to the letter of reprimand and last-chance agreement.
The letter also states that “during the investigation it was alleged that Ms. Evans retaliated against an individual who provided information to the district.”
The unpaid suspension took place Jan. 2-16, and then Evans returned to her job as a Spanish teacher, although not at the high school.
She agreed to the suspension, and the district agreed not to pursue her removal through formal proceedings. Evans also agreed to ensure her family members use the proper protocol for entering a school building. If she helps them sidestep the security protocols in the future, she could be terminated immediately, according to the agreement.
She also agreed not to retaliate against any district employee who provided information to the district. If she does, the district will institute the formal removal procedure under Education Law.
After her suspension, she was reassigned from the high school, and is not entitled to return for five years. A source said she was teaching in the middle school.
Evans, who made $98,812 last year, according to SeeThrough NY, posted on her Facebook page the day after the lockdown a photo of a note signed by students that read “Best Lockdown ever!” She praised the students as “an amazing group of kids,” adding the lockdown was nearly three hours long. Several parents posted comments, including, “Last thing I heard before bed last night was how awesome you are,” and “They are blessed to have you.”
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