Bethlehem teacher claims bogus firing

"I was demonstrating the difference between the two Spanish verbs "ser" and "estar," both of which mean "to be" in English, and used the example in Spanish of, 'Would I say, 'Am I [soy] fat' or 'Am I [estoy] fat' in Spanish?" she said.

Waltz also taught sections of Spanish along with her Chinese curriculum. As for the Obama doll, Waltz said it was being used to demonstrate different kinds of colors and clothes, such as "Obama is wearing a green shirt today."

"The kids really loved it," said Waltz. "Sixth graders are so smart, they're too young to be cool, they still love everything."

Waltz said no one is disputing the fact that the district has the right to fire her because of her probationary status, but said she thinks "they should just come out and say that instead of trying to make up excuses why they're firing me."

She also questioned whether the program would continue and if the district would find another candidate as qualified as she is in time.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano said he could not comment on Waltz's situation, but that Bethlehem Central is keeping the Chinese program.

"The district is completely committed to Chinese instruction," Tebbano said. "In keeping with the vision outlined when the program was initiated, this coming year we will expand the program to include Chinese for seventh-grade students as we continue to plan to grow and strengthen the program in the years to come."

District Spokesman Matt Leon said the Board of Education is expected to appoint a 0.6 " or part time " teaching position to the language program during the Wednesday, Aug. 12, meeting at the district offices in Delmar.

"Ensuring all students have the skills to succeed in a rapidly changing world is fundamental to the district's mission," Tebbano added. "Without a doubt, a top-notch world languages program is an element of meeting this mission. Chinese instruction strengthens our offerings in this area and we are dedicated to it."

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