Former Alcovy High School teacher Kevin Dockery believes he and another teacher were unfairly treated and forced out of the school system for his role in "testing irregularities" in the fall of 2010 and derogatory emails against Principal LaQuanda Carpenter - the latest in a string of subplots in the anonymous blogger lawsuit.
The News filed an open records request for documents surrounding alleged improper testing procedures during Alcovy's 2010 End-of-Course Tests, and while the tests weren't properly conducted, emails from state officials show they concluded the improper procedures were simply unintentional mistakes.
However, Dockery, a former social studies teacher, believes he and fellow former teacher Misty Moore were unfairly retaliated against for bringing the improper procedures to the attention of state officials instead of following the school's chain of command.
In the fall of 2010, a former Alcovy teacher sent an email to the Georgia Department of Education's Office of Standards, Instruction, and Assessment, asking for clarification on test administration procedures. The teacher said in the email that while a group of students were taking the EOCTs in U.S. History, they completed only half of the test, and then were allowed to leave for lunch and come back and complete their test.
"Many of those students ate lunch with the group that completed the test earlier in the day. That doesn't seem right, but the administration said this was proper procedure. This is the way it has been done all week," reads the email.
The Georgia Department of Education then received an email from a parent, claiming that students who had already taken and completed the test were discussing it with students who had yet to finish it while at lunch.
Carl Skinner, Newton County School's director of testing, research and evaluation, was asked to conduct an investigation and, in doing so, questioned several teachers and students at random.
Social studies teacher Misty Moore reportedly told Skinner that she saw students who she knew should be testing at lunch and took her concerns to Veronica Lawrence, assistant principal for testing, then sent an email to the state.
Dockery reportedly told Skinner that Moore told him and other social studies teachers about the issue at lunch. Dockery told Skinner that "to my knowledge no student had discussed the (U.S. History) test."
Social studies department chair Anita Anderson was also interviewed. She reportedly told Skinner that she had spoke with students who told her they were released for lunch and were to then come back and finish the test after they had eaten.
Interviews with six students (one tenth grader and two eleventh graders) were all much the same. They went to lunch, some listened to music, and others talked with friends, and then finished their tests. All students denied talking about the test with others or studying for the test during the 45-minute period they were at lunch.
"During the investigation, it was discovered that the process of allowing the students to take a break longer than five minutes and attend lunch had occurred on other EOCTs. A longer break was also given on the economics, math I, ninth-grade literature, American literature, physical science and biology. Irregularity reports have been filed on the GaDOE Portal for students affected.
"Testing protocol has been discussed, in detail and Dr. Brown (Principal LaQuanda Brown nee Carpenter) and Ms. Lawrence and I am confident that a similar incident will not occur in future testing."
In addition, Superintendent Gary Mathews said in his report to the state that he had sent a letter to the parent who complained, inviting him to meet with Mathews, and had not, at the time of the writing, received a response.
Disputed fallout for Dockery
Dockery has previously said in an email to The News that he believed he was treated unfairly by being given an initial unsatisfactory evaluation without being given a chance to remediate any deficiency, which is required by state code. He also said he never had any prior blemish on his personnel file.
"My primary concern is the fact that proper procedure was not followed for teacher evaluation, as indicated in the Newton County School System manual," said Dockery in an appeal of his annual evaluation that he shared with The News. According to the appeal, neither a professional development plan nor any word of the concerns of administrators was brought to him prior to his evaluation.
"I feel as though the administration ‘sat on' this information and used it at the end of the year to give me a negative overall evaluation," Dockery wrote.
In the appeal, Dockery also said, "I feel as though I am being targeted and retaliated against for alleged involvement in reporting testing irregularities and issues to the state Department of Education."
However, he does say that administrators told him he was receiving a poor evaluation because he had sent emails that were derogatory towards administrators during classroom instruction time, and admits in the appeal that he did send emails.
"Dr. Carpenter informed me that in December 2010 I had sent emails that were derogatory towards administrators and I explained to her that I admitted to sending inappropriate emails but I was angered and frustrated...the emails may have been inappropriate but I acknowledged...that they were sent in frustration and fear of retaliation, but it did not interfere with instruction as my classes had completed testing and were not required to prepare for a final exam."
Copies of some of Dockery's emails were obtained from an anonymous source that obtained them through an open records request.
In a Dec. 15, 2010 email sent at 11:22 a.m., Moore emailed Dockery, saying, "I don't think LB (LaQuanda Brown (now Carpenter) is here." To which Dockery replies, "She's under [Carl] Skinner's desk taking care of his ‘testing irregularities.'
Earlier that same day at 11:18 a.m., emails show that Dockery sent Moore an email saying "...You know what, they can kiss your a** Misty. Show up for the meeting and tell them if they're so f*****g nervous then how about doing the right thing? THEY screwed up, not you, and that's not your fault. Tell them to meet with you now. Send your 3rd block to my room and we'll watch Napoleon Dynamite. Don't wait til (sic) the end of the day. That's bulls**t they are making you wait."
The next day, Dec. 16, 2010 at 11:22 a.m., Dockery sent an email to Carpenter and Lawrence, attempting to "clarify what I said in the meeting this morning."
"I wanted to make sure you both understood that I had absolutely no issues with the way the EOCTs or this situation has been handled. What I meant when I spoke at the meeting was I am disappointed in the state for causing a panic in the county and here at AHS when nothing was wrong."
He said recently that other teachers also sent similar emails but weren't disciplined.
In the end, Dockery left the school system at the end of the year to follow his wife, who was hired for a job in Tennessee.
"I have been reading and watching the latest drama unfolding in Newton County regarding a lawsuit brought by Alcovy High School principal Dr. LaQuanda Carpenter against members of the community, and one that now includes an elected member of the Board of Education and I am frustrated and saddened by these events," Dockery said in a letter to The News. "I would like to speak for other educators who feel they were treated unfairly and unprofessionally but cannot share their voices because they are either still employed at the school or elsewhere in the county. I have spoken to dozens of former and current educators in Newton County and there seems to be a common theme."
Dockery recently received a cease and desist noticed from Stephanie Lindsey, an attorney for LaQuanda Carpenter, who is currently suing several anonymous bloggers, as well as Newton County School Board District 1 representative Jeff Meadors, for allegedly defaming her with comments made on The Newton Citizen's website.
The notice demands that Dockery stop immediately "all online defamatory blog postings or slanderous comments," regarding both Carpenter, her husband Dennis Carpenter, members of the Newton County Board of Education, school and school system employees, including Superintendent Gary Mathews. The email demands that within five days, Dockery begin to publish written retractions in the same public way the "defamatory statements were published."
"I am offended and disturbed that she feels the need to send me an email telling me to stop something when she has no credible proof or evidence that I did anything wrong," Dockery said in an email to The News Thursday.
"Apparently several people are being threatened with these demands and threats of legal action when all they appear to be doing is expressing opinions. People in the community care a great deal about how their schools operate and take offense when others try to silence their right to express themselves. Teachers, parents, students and others have a right and a duty to hold everyone accountable for what happens in the schools and to try to silence that is insulting."
Misty Moore, who also has since moved, did not return multiple emails seeking comment.