The question is, should it take a full year's worth of dedication to get rid of a manifestly incompetent employee?
Judith Perez, principal of Hancock Park Elementary School in Los Angeles, recalled a situation in which a fellow principal had one more teacher than he needed. Under union rules, the teacher with the least seniority was to be transferred. Instead, the principal pushed out a poorly performing veteran by threatening to make her life miserable with frequent observations of her classes, Perez said.
The teacher ended up at Perez's school. When Perez called the principal for information, he quickly apologized. "I'm so sorry," she recalled him saying.
Perez soon found out why, concluding that her new teacher was "a total incompetent. . . . She had no idea how to conduct a lesson in reading or math."
Perez committed herself to either making this teacher improve or forcing her out.
"I was a [teachers] union leader," Perez said. "I believe in teachers' rights and protections. . . . But my bottom line is I'm in this profession for children. . . . Basically, I dedicated my year to getting rid of this teacher."
She kept a detailed diary, conducted a series of formal meetings with the teacher and her union representatives -- all called for under the teachers' contract -- and finally persuaded the woman to quit.