Tyler ISD policy just didn't add up says teacher

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A calculator conflict at John Tyler High School just didn't add up. Some math teachers say, Tuesday, the administration announced the teachers would be held financially responsible for missing calculators. But the district may be legally bound to rethink its policies.

The Texas Instruments 'Nspire' is a Cadillac of calculators.  We are told John Tyler High School math teachers were assigned a class set of the calculators at the beginning of the school year.

One teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said during a recent department meeting, administrators informed the teachers that they had two weeks to find the missing calculators or the cost would come out of their paychecks - about $100 bucks a calculator.

We contacted the district which initially said the teachers were contractually obligated to cover the cost of the calculators.

Our teacher told us during the school year, administrators would occasionally remove calculators from classrooms to be used for testing and that on several occasions, those calculators were not returned.

"If the law and the contract don't match, then I need clarity," said the teacher.

Blake Armstrong is a Tyler attorney and a member of the Texas Council of School Attorneys.

"There are a lot of moving parts--students are taking these things off campus, sometimes, and I think the legislature recognized that an educator needs some amount of protection," said Armstrong.

According to the Texas Education Code, a board of trustees of a district may not require an employee to pay for a textbook, electronic textbook, or technological equipment that is damaged, stolen, misplaced, or not returned.  The code also prohibits school districts from waiving the provision by contract or any other means.

"Whether or not that's been followed is a question for someone else to answer, but certainly, I think the code is clear and unambiguous as to what should happen," said Armstrong.

We contacted Tyler ISD, again, which declined an interview.

The district did issue a statement:

"This is the first time TISD has had this particular situation occur.  After further review, we determined the education code is correct in this circumstance."

The district said it would correct the situation and handle the matter internally.

In spite of it all, our teacher remained dedicated to the school and to the students.

"I'm staying there no matter what, but fair is fair, and right is right," said the teacher.

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