Carver Elementary teachers appeal to keep licenses

Teachers implicated in Carver scandal fight to keep licenses

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the wake of the SOL cheating scandal that rocked Carver Elementary, Richmond Public Schools said it has begun the process to petition the state to revoke the licenses of the teachers named in the investigation.

But three instructors are appealing the petition in an attempt to clear their names and keep their jobs.

Marlin Osborne, Troy Johnson and Stephanie Burgess are on administrative leave as they await the final decision in the appeals process for their pending terminations.

The state department of education has issued an addendum to their original report, saying that the statements from students made about Johnson and Burgess, among others, "were not correlated with specific response change data from the spring 2018 SOL test administration nor were they otherwise corroborated."

It's for this reason Burgess hired lawyer Richard Hawkins who released a statement on her behalf claiming she is innocent.

"Ms. Burgess did not do anything improper regarding SOL testing at Carver. Despite this, without any due process, Ms. Burgess has been falsely accused by both the Virginia Department of Education and the Superintendent of the Richmond Public Schools," the statement said. "Ms. Burgess is a good and honest teacher, and she expects that her appeal - and if necessary, legal action - will clear her name and allow her to keep her job and her teaching license."

Robyn McDougle with the Wilder School of Government and Policy at VCU says the teachers have an uphill fight.

"Every legal process is unique, but definitely in a situation of where there has been enough evidence to deemed to fire the teacher, it becomes much more of legal battle for those teachers to overcome that," McDougle said.

No matter the outcome, McDougle says scandals like this bring to light the pressure teachers face to get students to succeed, even at the risk of their jobs.

"Teachers really feel that high-stakes pressure that their students perform well on their SOL tests," said McDougle. "They're performance indicators for students, but really they're performance indicators for teachers."

RPS says that with the start of school two weeks away, the division plans to fill the now-vacant teaching positions "with qualified substitutes until the outcome of that process is finalized.

Two other teachers named in the investigation have already opted to surrender their licenses.

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