Teachers Claim "Atmosphere of Intimidation" at ECISD

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The Texas State Teacher's Association approached the Ector County ISD Board of Trustees Tuesday night with a clear message.

"We're going to be talking about the fear and intimidation tactics or strategies that are being used by the administration," Chuck Isner, President of our local TSTA region, said.

The TSTA claims this atmosphere has caused 21 teachers to resign before the first semester of this school year was over.

They also claimed they have evidence of such intimidation with the Professional Development and Support teacher observation of one teacher at Hood Junior High School in Odessa.

"We have a teacher in this district who has been, always received above expectations in every domain on PDAS. This year, he was rated below expectations on every domain," Isner said. "You don't go from here to the basement just like that. Somebody is trying to send him and others a message." That teacher is Eric Olsen.

When NewsWest 9 asked about his recent PDAS scores, Olsen said PDAS is an instrument that can be used unfairly by the school administrators who carry it out, that it can have bias.

He said there is intimidation in the district.

"Being coerced in different means. Everything that you do, every E-mail that's sent to us, every piece of information that is communicated to us on our campus came basically that it's going to be on your PDAS, your evaluation," Olsen said. "No matter what, there's no communication that's really allowed, that's not part of this very tight-knit, controlled environment."

Olsen said he's leaving ECISD after this year to go to Arlington.

The TSTA and Olsen claim the intimidation started this year, possibly because of a change in administration.

ECISD Superintendent Hector Mendez said no surprises were thrown at teachers this year.

"We did implement some initiatives this year but they weren't surprises," Mendez said. "We have been in conversations for a year-and-a-half. Could it have been done better? All things could be done better."

Other board members spoke out on the number of resignations, saying the teachers may have just gone to other jobs.

"I've worked with some small districts and they're losing teachers to the oilfield because of the salary increase," ECISD Board Member, Donnie Norwood, said.

When asked, the TSTA could not confirm where all those teachers had ended up at.

They're calling for the board to institute more climate studies on teachers and for there to be a different attitude overall at ECISD.