Parents pledge to help teacher She quit in Balto. Co. after the city sought suspension of license

December 23, 1997|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

After a tearful day for some Owings Mills kindergartners, parents vowed yesterday to keep fighting for Sharon Weber, a popular Baltimore County teacher who resigned under pressure from city school officials.

"We're not going to give up until we get her to come back to the classroom," said parent Pam Neuberth, whose son John-Michael was taught by Weber at Owings Mills Elementary School. "We're going to keep on fighting the city schools for what they're doing to her."

But a city schools spokeswoman defended the decision to seek a suspension of Weber's teaching credentials. Weber should not have abandoned her city teaching job after working just one day this summer, even if she was upset by what she perceived to be a lack of classroom supplies, spokeswoman Vanessa Pyatt said.

"To resign after one day is hardly the answer to concerns about the materials provided for the classroom," Pyatt said. "It's not giving anyone a chance to address the concerns."

Weber resigned Friday from her job teaching kindergarten at Owings Mills Elementary because city officials are seeking the rare suspension.

Weber, 32, who moved to Baltimore from England last year, had signed up during the summer to teach at Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School on East 21st Street in the city. But after working one paid day before the beginning of classes, she resigned.

Weber initially told city school officials she was moving to Florida -- something she and her husband said they had been considering but decided not to do. A day later, she said in a letter that she was quitting because not even basic instructional materials had been provided for her.

Less than two weeks later, the county school system offered Weber a job at Owings Mills Elementary. City school administrators found out and asked the state to suspend her license for violating the contract with them.

Under state regulations, districts can ask for a teacher's license to be suspended for up to a year for leaving after the start of the school year.

Most school districts -- including the city -- rarely seek the suspension of credentials for such violations. Since 1989, 30 teachers statewide have had credentials suspended under those circumstances.

"Hiring and retaining quality teachers is a priority within the school system," Pyatt said, explaining why the city is seeking the suspension. "We go through extensive interviews and background checks to do everything we can to hire the best teachers we can for the children of the Baltimore City public school system. It is not a frivolous act for someone to resign after just one day."

With a potential suspension hanging over her, Weber left her position teaching 23 Owings Mills kindergartners. She said she wanted to give the pupils a chance for closure.

Yesterday was the first day in the kindergarten class without Weber -- and parents said many children cried off and on through the day.

"It was very sad," said Dawn Grudinsky, who spent the day in class. "My daughter Kayla cried all morning because she was upset Mrs. Weber wasn't there. I felt very bad for the new teacher, because she's coming into such a tough situation."

Still, like other parents, Grudinsky said she is "praying for something to happen."

"This is a rotten thing," she said, "and I want Mrs. Weber to be able to come back to the school."

A hearing on the suspension has not been scheduled, although parents pledge they will be there to help Weber press her fight.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County and Maryland school officials said yesterday they have no plans to step in on behalf of Weber. They said it would be inappropriate, given the pending appeals process.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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