Supporters of long-time teacher accused of bullying student speak to school board

Certificate changed for student at continuation

Certificate changed for student at continuation

DENVER — A show of support Thursday night at a Denver School Board meeting for a teacher whose job is on the line after accusations of bullying a child.

We first told you about the issue in June. A mother was at wit’s end by what happened at her 14-year-old son’s 8th grade continuation ceremony at Grant Ranch School.

The employment of teacher Liz Peel was not on the board’s agenda.

But that didn’t stop her supporters from showing up to say their peace, since the superintendent is recommending she be terminated.

One word could cost Peel, an 18-year veteran teacher, her job.

She’s accused of scratching out “completed” and writing in “attended” on a dyslexic student’s continuation certificate.

“These teachers, I think, need to watch themselves sometimes, because they could hurt people’s feelings,” said Arias Romero, 14, the student whose certificate was defaced.

Romero’s mom, Desiree Conklin, says Peel and other teachers didn’t feel her son earned the privilege of attending the continuation ceremony.

She says teachers even asked if they could change the certificates. The principal told them no, but it happened anyway.

The district released this statement:

“We are greatly concerned by the events at the Grant Ranch continuation ceremony. Several students and their families were deeply hurt that their continuation certificates were crudely altered in direct contravention of the school principal’s clear direction, and they were treated disrespectfully at a public ceremony intended to highlight and celebrate the students.”

Some of Peel’s supporters asked for mercy of the board that holds her future in their hands.

“Principals told 8th grade teachers to sign documents that a student met requirements of 8th grade. They were told to lie on documents. Clearly, this is unethical. Yet, Peel has been fired,” says parent Niki Mitchell.

“Now the Grant Ranch administration has betrayed its teachers and bent over backward for a parent and student that don’t fully deserve it. The administration is willing to throw an amazing teacher under the bus,” says former student Victoria Pumilio.

But the support stops with Conklin.

She told the board her fight now is not just with Peel, but with the mindset she says some educators have about students with special needs.

“I am not stopping here. I will fight this fight for my son and all children who struggle academically until there is a change because he deserves that,” says Conklin.

Peel is on administrative leave until a decision is made on her future with the district.

An administrative judge is reviewing the facts of the case. That judge will then make a recommendation to the board.

Only the board can fire Peel. But the board is not bound by the judge’s recommendation.

A decision could take months.

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