Cafeteria manager fired from Oklahoma Centennial High School

A principal testified Monday night in a seven-hour employment hearing that the Oklahoma City School District employee was rude and demeaning to students for the past six years.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Modified: October 27, 2010 at 9:06 am •  Published: October 27, 2010

Showing just how hard it is to fire a school employee, it took a seven-hour hearing ending at 1 a.m. Tuesday before the Oklahoma City School Board finally dismissed a cafeteria manager accused of berating students for years.

The worker at Oklahoma Centennial High School was fired for "abusive" treatment of students that included yelling, taking away their lunches and embarrassing them publicly.

Sharon Coleman had worked with the district since 1991 and had worked at the former Hoover Middle School, John Marshall High School and the new Centennial High School.

The employment hearing, afforded to both teachers and support personnel in the district by the unions' collective bargaining agreements, began Monday at 5:30 p.m. and several witnesses testified.

Tammy Carter, attorney for the school district, opened the hearing saying that hiring and maintaining good support staff is just as vital as having good teachers in classrooms.

"That conversation has gotten much louder recently with the release of the movie 'Waiting for Superman,'" Carter said.

The movie highlights how difficult it is to fire teachers, and how that barrier to removing ineffective teachers has resulted in very few firings across the nation for noncriminal offenses.

"There has to be a better way," Superintendent Karl Springer said of the process of removing both support staff and teachers. "The process for the teacher due process has got to change. The board should have the final say."

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