An Ann Arbor, Mich. high school math teacher charged with seating students by race and much else has taken her refusal to undergo a psychological evaluation on Fourth Amendment grounds to a federal appeals court after school officials placed her on paid leave way back in December.
The tenured teacher, Dianne Down, has been collecting paid leave ever since then, reports The Ann Arbor News. She is likely earning about $6,300 each month for not teaching.
Down, who has 32 years as a teacher altogether, has a history of getting in trouble. During the 14 years she was taught in Ann Arbor, she has received four formal reprimands.
In 2004, school officials reprimanded her for teasing a student. She called him animal names. For example, documents say, she said: “Shut up, chipmunk.”
In the fall of 2008, nine students sought transfers out of her class. According to an evaluation that year, administrators cited nearly two dozen complaints concerning her teaching performance.
Down countered the 2008 evaluation by blaming school officials for eleventh-hour schedule changes.
“I love my students. I love teaching,” she wrote. “I am looking forward to many more great years.”
During the 2009-10 school year, school officials charged that Down was grouping students in several classes by the color of their skin. “Prepare seating chart to avoid Caucasian and better students sitting on the far side of the room near the teacher’s desk while African American students, other students of color and poorer students sit near the door,” her bosses instructed.
In 2012, a school official wrote a letter to Down advising her that her classroom behavior was unacceptable.
None of these transgressions were enough for Down to lose her job. Far from it! During a 2013 evaluation, administrators managed to award Down with ratings of “effective” in all but one category. In a category called “Student Growth Factor,” Down received a coveted “highly effective” rating.
According to later-filed court documents, Down was only removed after an unidentified parent sent reviews of Down to school officials from the website RateMyTeachers.com.
School officials said they made the decision to investigate the math teacher based on a report that she had intimidated and disparaged students.
RateMyTeachers.com currently appears to show no reviews for Down.
School district bureaucrats eventually placed Down on paid leave in December. They also asked her to undergo a psychological evaluation. She refused.
Down then sued in federal district court under the Fourth Amendment. Though a request that a teacher undergo a psychological evaluation is permissible under the current teachers union contract, Down’s attorney, Jeff Herron, is arguing that the request violates her Fourth Amendment right against an unreasonable search and seizure.
Herron also brings up the novel issue of whether anonymously written, online reviews can be used as a partial basis to require a public school teacher to be subjected to a medical exam.
After the district judge ruled against Down’s request for an injunction, finding her “defensive and not fully credible,” she appealed her case to the Sixth Circuit of Appeals.