Bethlehem teacher claims bogus firing

Dr. Terry Waltz admits she may not have been the most conventional teacher a reason why some students and their parents say they like her but she says that is no cause to be fired from the Bethlehem School District.

With an international background in lecturing and education, Waltz was hired to head up the district's new Chinese program started last year that focuses on the language and the nation's customs.

After a year in a probationary position she has been handed a termination letter.

Waltz claims she is being let go for reasons other than her performance.

"The district is claiming I'm a bad teacher but I loved my job and I loved my classroom," she told The Spotlight in an exclusive interview. "I have a doctorate in curriculum writing."

Waltz said she believes personality conflicts are more at the heart of the issue than her teaching but said she wants to keep her professional reputation in tact.

Waltz is a State Department Chinese interpreter and translator and said she is one of only 14 certified Mandarin Chinese teachers in Upstate New York. Waltz provided The Spotlight with a copy of a letter from the board of education dated June 12, recommending her termination and accusing Waltz of making "inappropriate comments" to students and to other colleagues, and making unprofessional decisions, among other reasons.

"On a number of occasions during the 2008-2009 school year, both prior to and after you were placed on a Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) in January 2009, you exercised poor professional judgment in your interactions with students and made inappropriate comments to students," the district's June 12 letter states.

Waltz said she received six positive teaching reviews prior to being put on TIP and called the excuses for not renewing her probationary position "ridiculous." She said the term "inappropriate" is misleading and makes it sound like she had done something worse than using the word "fat" or a commercially published paper doll of President Barack Obama in the classroom.

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