During a recent class training to recognize bullying, one teacher in Ohio realized that she fell into the bullied category. The bully, according to Dawn Neely-Randall, wasn’t from any individual but the State of Ohio.

The story, including her plans to sue the state, was published by Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University.

ODE Is The Bully

Dawn Neely-Randall, a teacher in Elyria City Schools at Mckinley Elementary School, wrote, “As a teacher in the State of Ohio, I suddenly realized that I am being harassed by the Ohio Department of Education’s own legal definition as well as from legislators who are passing harmful laws to hurt me as well as many harmful laws that hurt my students, which totally, unequivocally knock the wind right out of me.”

The concern of Ms. Neely-Randall is that the state is asking teachers to educate and test students in ways that many teachers do not feel are morally correct or developmentally appropriate. “Our Ohio Department of Education is a mess,” she said, noting that state superintendents don’t stay in place very long while some staffers at the Ohio Department of Education [ODE] aren’t familiar with their own tests, as she learned recently in a call to Columbus when a staffer she talked to didn’t know basics, including what PARCC and AIR stood for.

High among her concerns is the charter scrubbing scandal at ODE. In addition to the ridicule Ohio’s charter school system is engendering nationwide, is the scandal resulting from data scrubbing to favor poor performing charter schools undertaken by David Hansen, husband of Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign and former chief of staff.

“Urban public schools are constantly being told they are FAILING and being threatened with state takeover while the Ohio Department of Education falsified charter information not only to the citizens of the state, but also to the United States Department of Education, and continued to label schools and did nothing to press charges against the person(s) falsifying the data, even though teachers in another state are IN JAIL for doing the same thing,” she said.

“Bottom line: I feel harassed by the Ohio Department of Education,” she wrote. “I feel abused. I feel heartsick with what they are asking us to do in education and the hoops they are requiring us to put our students through. When a special ed student pulls out every eyelash during testing, that’s a problem. When a fifth-grade student breaks down blubbering during a high-states test, that’s a problem. When a child on an Individualized Instruction Plan calls the State of Ohio HIMSELF (with his parents’ help) THREE times because he feels so convinced about how wrongly he is being treated and the Ohio Department of Education does not have the decency to return his message, that’s a problem.”

“Yes, I feel harassed and finally, I’m going to do something about it. I will be looking for an attorney to represent me in a lawsuit against anyone harming the children, and thus, me, on my watch.”

Plunderbund has been a leader in covering the Kasich Administration in ways only an independent news group can. Ms. Neely-Randall spoke with me via email recently, telling me she’s looking for a path forward for her, and other teachers in Ohio and maybe other states. The superintendent of her school system, Dr. Tom Jama, has advised her to contact the district’s union president to see if he could take her through the union channels first before she dips into her own funds.

“My email is full of contacts from teachers in the state and nation who are interested in joining me or pursuing harassment charges in their states as well,” she told me Nov. 26. Thanksgiving now over, she’s ready to move forward, full steam she says.

“The fact that just this week, some third-graders (8 year olds) will be sitting for three hours straight taking a high-pressured state-mandated test (and rendering their teachers helpless to protect them) proves to me all the more that this harassment has to stop,” she told me via email.