Kindergarten teacher Sue Ackerman. (Emily Files)

Kindergarten teacher Sue Ackerman at the beginning of the school year. (Emily Files)

The Haines School Kindergarten teacher feels she is being unfairly released from her job. Sue Ackerman has asked for a public non-retention hearing with the school board. At the hearing, she’ll explain why she feels she wasn’t given a reasonable chance to stay in her job next school year.

This was Ackerman’s first year at Haines School and her first year as a Kindergarten teacher after working in preschools. She says the year started out difficult. She was the only teacher for 23 students.

“I feel I don’t have anything to be embarrassed about,” she said. “I fully acknowledge that I had a hard time in the beginning. But I did pull it together. And I think that’s the main point I want to make. I did make improvements and they just didn’t want to acknowledge that I had.”

Ackerman was gone on maternity leave between November and January. When she came back, she says the administration had made a decision.

“It was January 15 and I had been in the classroom maybe 10 days back.  And they said that I hadn’t made enough progress and therefore they were done with me. I was told to submit a letter of resignation right then, January 15. It just floored me. It was really unexpected and it just really hurt.”

Ackerman says she asked for more time to show what she was capable of. But the district moved forward with hiring her replacement for next year.

Superintendent Rich Carlson the administration chose not to retain Ackerman based on ‘performance issues.’

“The superintendent and board can non-retain a non-tenured teacher for any reason they see fit,” Carlson said. “Except for circumstances where they would be discriminating.”

“Basically as a non-tenured teacher, you don’t have very many rights,” Ackerman said.

That’s one reason she requested a public hearing, instead of turning in her resignation.

“I think a lot of people who go into the teaching field don’t realize that,” Ackerman said. “You don’t realize that basically schools can let you go at any point for any reason. And the more research I did on this topic, I was just astounded this can happen.”

Ackerman says she knows it’s not likely that she’ll be able to hold on to her job. But she still wants to draw attention to what she sees as an unjust decision.

“You know, it’s been extremely difficult for me to come into work every day and stay motivated and stay positive. But I’ve done it because I feel very passionately about what I do.”

Ackerman’s non-retention hearing is scheduled for June 28 at 6 p.m. in the school library. The school board will serve as a sort of jury. They’ll decide whether to sustain or overturn the non-retention decision.