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Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:27 PM

Oregon's 2014 Teacher of Year fired today. Had been warned not to speak about being gay.

Here's some background on Brett Bigham. He was placed on paid leave in late March.



Oregon's 2014 Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham has been placed on paid administrative leave, his district confirmed Friday afternoon.

....Bigham teaches in Multnomah Education Service District's transition program, which helps special education students from ages 18 to 21 with work and life skills. In October of 2013 he was the first openly gay educator to be named Oregon Teacher of the Year, and has used the role as a platform to discuss gay rights, bullying and suicide prevention.

Last fall Bigham submitted a grievance alleging mistreatment and has also filed two complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation. Bigham has additionally filed a complaint against district officials with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

...Bigham feels the move is retaliation against him for filing the complaints. He said he thought first of his students and said he wasn't sure how his classroom would be managed.

"I just went ahead and left," he said. "It breaks my heart."

Today he was fired.

MESD Fires Brett Bigham, 2014 Teacher of the Year

The 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year, who has been at odds with the Multnomah Education Service District over labor complaints and allegations of discrimination, has been fired.

MESD Interim Superintendent Jim Rose called the decision a difficult one.

“Unfortunately, it became clear over time that Brett’s focus was no longer his classroom and students, as evidenced by excessive time away and distraction during class time,” Rosd said. “Brett was no longer giving his students his best efforts.”

Bigham said he, his lawyer Matthew Ellis, and the Oregon Education Association, the union representing MESD teachers, plan to contest the termination.

Bigham said the report that determined he had missed too many teaching days was inaccurate, and that the necessary steps required for his termination were not taken. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor and Industries, one of two agencies Bigham filed complaints for discrimination and retaliation, is expected to rule on Bigham's complaints shortly.

In January he was told to stop talking about being gay.

After the Jan. 27, 2014 speech at the Columbia Gorge Education Service District, Bigham alleges then MESD Director of Functional Life Skills Jeanne Zuniga told him to stop referencing his sexuality in his speeches.

Zuniga, Jorgensen, and three others are named in TCSP correspondence, dated Jan. 8, 2015, regarding the September complaint. Bigham later filed another complaint, with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Nov. 24, alleging retaliation for filing his first complaint with TSPC, among other things.

I think his words at that time were powerful.

I was impressed by his words from the article:

“I spent this year talking about LGBT kids and how teachers need to stand up for them against bullies,” said Bigham. “I’ve faced this kind of bullying from my district, and I feel like a hypocrite if I don’t stand up to it.

Here is his Twitter Feed.


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Reply Oregon's 2014 Teacher of Year fired today. Had been warned not to speak about being gay. (Original post)
madfloridian Apr 2015 OP
BlueJazz Apr 2015 #1
Protalker Apr 2015 #2
Protalker Apr 2015 #3
Lochloosa Apr 2015 #5
eggplant Apr 2015 #10
madfloridian Apr 2015 #4
CaliforniaPeggy Apr 2015 #6
madfloridian Apr 2015 #8
appalachiablue Apr 2015 #7
Doctor_J Apr 2015 #9
m-lekktor Apr 2015 #11
Smarmie Doofus Apr 2015 #15
madfloridian Apr 2015 #16
madfloridian Apr 2015 #12
madfloridian Apr 2015 #13
madfloridian Apr 2015 #14
romanic Apr 2015 #20
Heidi Apr 2015 #17
madfloridian Apr 2015 #18
LeftyMom Apr 2015 #19
madfloridian Apr 2015 #21

Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:35 PM

1. Played up there. (band) years ago. Oregon has some strong areas of Liberalism.

 

Some of the other places remind me of the Bar scene in "The Blues Brothers". I'm surprised at Multnomah County though. ??

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:43 PM

2. What a great man

With GLBT teens getting bullied which leads to increased suicide, teachers need to step up and be seen. Sad whistle blowers always walk the plank. Hope you win.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:43 PM

3. What a great man

With GLBT teens getting bullied which leads to increased suicide, teachers need to step up and be seen. Sad whistle blowers always walk the plank. Hope you win.

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Response to Protalker (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:52 PM

5. You can say that again.

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Response to Lochloosa (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 09:48 PM

10. Ditto!

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:50 PM

4. More about why he takes his stands.

From 2014

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/05/gay_marriage_in_oregon_oregons.html

The couple has also long worried about the rights Turay would have if Bigham ever went to the hospital in an emergency. Bigham had a heart attack two years ago, and Turay wants to make sure he would be able visit him in a hospital room.

In a state that wouldn't recognize their domestic partnership, for example, they could be separated at the hospital door, Bigham said.

"They wouldn't recognize him as family, so he would not be allowed to sit in the room with me," he said. "I don't want to put him through that."

Bigham also wants to use his position at teacher of the year to make statements on gay rights and preventing gay teen suicide.

He said he had a friend who killed himself when he was 15, which makes the statistics on teen suicide hit particularly close to home.

"I figured that being out as the teacher of the year might keep a kid or two from going in that direction," he said.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:53 PM

6. I am horrified. I have so much respect for him.

I hope he prevails.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 08:37 PM

8. Me,too.

It is really upsetting.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:55 PM

7. K & R

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 09:17 PM

9. he'll probably get another job, but it sucks to be pushed out

 

"It's OK you'r gay, but you can't talk about it" Very weird

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 09:51 PM

11. In Oregon? wow. I guess it can happen anywhere.

infuriating.

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Response to m-lekktor (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 11:36 PM

15. It can and does happen EVERYWHERE, incuding in liberal bastions; but....

 

.... what I don't get about this is why they are so blatant about it.

Normally admins and school boards will manufacture some sort of fictitious rationale. "Incompetency" is the most common.


Hard to disprove, since effective teaching is largely based on intangibles.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #15)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 01:18 AM

16. The absences they mention had to do with Teacher of Year obligations.

Yes, they are being very blatant about it all.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 10:06 PM

12. 20 states give Teachers of Year the time off for speaking tours.

Yet that is one of the criticisms the district is making. None of this makes sense.

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/255876-126292-breaking-oregons-teacher-of-the-year-brett-bigham-fired

Michael Lindblad, Oregon's 2015 Teacher of the Year says that while the number of absences is subject to negotiation with the district, responding to requests to speak is a big part of the honor.

“At the National Teacher of the Year conference, they train you to go out and use this opportunity to go out and make change in the world,” Lindblad says, noting that 20 states give a year off to their Teachers of the Year.

Bigham says that in addition to being the first openly gay Teacher of the Year, the first Teacher of the Year outside of the K-12 grades and the first concurrent ODE and OEA Teacher of the Year, he is now probably the first-ever unemployed Teacher of the Year.

“More power to them for firing me on lies, because I can prove to them that they are wrong,” he says.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 10:13 PM

13. Wow! How things have changed since award announced to his special students. So sad.



So now he is fired after all the glowing things said??

Something is terribly wrong.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Apr 3, 2015, 10:19 PM

14. Brett's kids were transitioning to adulthood, trying to live in the world. Video of their struggles.

Get your hankies. And this guy is fired now???

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 03:37 AM

20. Heartwrenching yet heartwarming video

it pisses me off this district would fire a great teacher like this in a world filled with crappy excuses of "educators" that either neglect their students or prey upon them. Brett needs his job back pronto!

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 01:56 AM

17. Kick, kick, kick!!!

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Response to Heidi (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 02:16 AM

18. Thanks for the kick. This is a terrible wrong.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 03:10 AM

19. He's a DUer with a long history of telling unbelievable tales where he's the hero

with details that a cursory google shows to be false.

For example he told a tale about how his students were being fed a school lunch of pure packaged junk food and he took them to the store and bought them better food. While the notion that a special ed teacher could take his charges on an unplanned field trip without so much as a permission slip already stretches credibility, the school district's menu is online and it is a healthful one didn't include any of the items he claimed.

The school district's assertion that he's a drama llama with a persecution complex and a loose connection with the truth is the conclusion I long since drew from both of his DU accounts.

edit: http://portlandtribune.com/documents/artdocs/00003510908309.pdf

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Response to LeftyMom (Reply #19)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 11:10 AM

21. Hope you are not revealing DU identities? My sources are good ones, I stand by them.

The news sources are good, the videos are good.

I read what you posted. I see there the case built by the district. I am not into discussing identities here...I used news articles, videos, communication from other sources.

Your 2nd paragraph is bordering on a personal attack maybe?

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