EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A group of teachers who taught in the East Feliciana School System are fighting for money they claim is rightfully theirs and now they will have to wait to see if the system's school board agrees.
They were promised a bonus if their students' test scores improved but the board is considering a new policy that would exclude teachers who are no longer part of the school system.
Elementary and middle school teacher Katie Andrew's career path has taken her to Houston and back home to East Feliciana Parish.
"I'm a teacher because I live and love and enjoy and have a passion for watching children grow," Andrews said.
While at East Feliciana Middle School, Andrew's qualified for the district's Teacher Advancement Program, known as TAP. It rewards teachers whose students show an improvement in performance scores. The money is supposed to come in the form of a bonus check.
"I was told in June that not only was I eligible for the bonus; my principal said she would make sure that I did reap all of the awards from all of my hard work there."
Andrews said when the check did not arrive in October she and other teachers started questioning the school system. They learned two committees put together a new policy that states teachers who leave the school system would no longer be eligible for a TAP bonus. The money would instead remain in the school system. The teachers said they feel cheated and that the money would not even be in the district if their students did not make improvements.
"There would be no money to even discuss had we not netted some tremendous results for our kids and moved them forward academically," said Maya Bennett, a teacher at Jackson Elementary for two years. "So the fact that we could be discounted for our work and the money we were promised to be compensated in question doesn't make any sense."
A scenario Andrews hopes will be avoided when the school board revisits the issue.
"To say 'no we're going to take this bonus from you,' it seems really unfair and I really trust that the school board will do the right thing they'll come back and reconsider and they'll give us what we've worked so hard for," added Andrews.
The decision on whether to pay the bonuses to former teachers was tabled at a school board meeting Tuesday evening, and will be discussed more before the school board votes on the issue.