Superintendent Scott Pankow recommended that Rebecca “MonkE” Hazen’s position not be renewed, due to concern over how she is progressing with her alternative teacher’s licensure program.
Hazen was hired under an emergency licensure provision three years ago, after a plan to combine the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms under one teacher due to low enrollment had to be hastily changed when an unexpected influx of new students enrolled at the last minute.
Since then, the free-spirited Hazen, known to her students as “Miss MonkE”, has continued to teach kindergarten while working toward obtaining her alternative teacher’s license under the mentorship of Ouray School 4th grade teacher Jenny Hart. Along the way, she has earned the respect and loyalty of parents and fellow faculty members.
Pankow could not be specific about the nature of concerns surrounding Hazen’s alternative licensing process, due to the fact that it is a personnel matter, but he did say the school has been in discussions with the Colorado Department of Education’s Alternative License Committee.
“We think MonkE is great for the kids,” he said, “but it’s out of my and the school board’s control.”
Pankow’s recommendation not to renew Hazen’s contract has upset a number of Hazen’s supporters, with some of them concluding that she was being “non-renewed” in order to make space for another elementary teacher, who is currently on sabbatical, to return.
“This is an exceptional school,” said one of the many parents who attended last week’s school board meeting to voice their support for Hazen. “Keep the exceptional people that make it exceptional.”
“It’s a frickin’ piece of paper,” another vented, referring to the teacher’s license Hazen currently lacks.
However, Pankow stressed on Wednesday morning, it is more than that, as far as the Colorado Department of Education is concerned. The CDE bases its decision on whether a school can be “accredited with distinction” in part on how highly qualified its teachers are.
Pankow sought to dispel any rumors that Hazen was being “let go” to make room for another teacher’s return.
“This is a decision about what’s best for the kids,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know all of the pieces.”
Hazen, meanwhile, heard from the ATL board this week that she has another year to complete her licensure program, and received a check list of course work she needs to complete over the summer to move closer toward that goal.
The Ouray School Board has indicated that it may be ready to make a decision regarding Hazen’s position by Thursday, May 30. Look for updates at watchnewspapers.com.
In other news, the Ouray School Board last week accepted with regret the resignation of high school boy’s basketball coach Craig Kaminsky. The school is currently accepting applications for the position.