In a stunning turn of events the Miami-Dade School Board has decided to return Brenda Muchnick, the teacher involved in test cheating at Norland Senior High School in 2012, back to the school. At the same time the Miami-Dade School Board has decided to involuntarily move Trevor Colestock, the Norland librarian who exposed the test cheating, to another school. What makes this story even more unbelievable is while Colestock is physically at another school, he is still listed on the Norland SHS roster and payroll. Creative accounting?
Because of Colestock and for the first time in its existence, the Office of the Inspector General for Miami-Dade County documented and substantiated an instance of test cheating in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida’s largest school district and the nation’s fourth largest school district.
It began when a student told a teacher that cheating was going on. The teacher then told Colestock who has been the Library Media Specialist and a union steward at Miami Norland Senior High School for the past seven years. The cheating took place between Nov. 2011- April 2012. Colestock understood that morally and by law his knowledge of wrongdoing had to be reported. Report it he did, which led to the OIG investigators coming to Norland in May 2012.
The IG report found Brenda Muchnick to be one of the two cheating teachers.
The pattern is now complete. The message to all teachers in Miami-Dade Florida is, cheat and little or nothing happens to you. Cheat and you get to return to your old job in the school where you cheated. However, if you are a whistleblower you get harassed, threatened and then involuntarily removed from your position, for your own protection.
This entire series of events is endemic of a administrative system that punishes the good guy and embraces the cheater, which pervades the Miami-Dade School District.
Colestock still remains displaced from Norland, where he is unable to enforce his contract and state laws per his elected position as union steward. The Miami-Dade School Board, as well as Norland SHS Principal, Mr. Reginald E. Lee, are sending a message to their faculty and community. The adverse actions against Colestock effect those who may be willing to ensure compliance with law and union contract through oversight and quality control measures at Norland.
Retaliation is the method to silence those who expose cheating. Reward awaits those who cheat.
Colestock states, “These actions are clearly anti-union and anti-labor. The union member who participated in the cheating was fired, but the non-union member who did the exact same thing was suspended without pay for 30 days and sent back to work, whereas I a union steward have been illegally displaced per state law and the Koren decision issued by the Florida Supreme Court which basically prohibits transfers in situations like this. To top it off, the United Teachers of Dade has been stunningly silent.”
“The District created this situation by never addressing the faculty, staff, and students following the release of the Miami-Dade OIG report on August 26, 2013, thereby creating a cone of silence,” states Colestock.
What this is a “cone of corruption.”
The Miami-Dade school district, by their actions, wants teachers to be like Muchnick: keep quiet, look the other way on test cheating and fraud, disparage those who do expose it and go along, to get along people. What is even more astounding is Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was recently named Florida’s Superintendent of the Year.
Is that what Miami-Dade public schools have come to? Apparently so.