School apologizes to teacher who gave out a Catastrophe Award

Teacher Debbie Bianco told KGUN9 that she's taking over Plowman's 3rd grade class.

School apologizes to teacher who gave out a Catastrophe Award

CREATED Jul 2, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Yet another apology from Desert Springs Academy-- the charter school that made national headlines when a teacher embarrassed a little girl by giving her a catastrophe award.

The board president said the teacher, Gigi Plowman, resigned, but the teacher told KGUN9 in an exclusive interview -- no way. Plowman said, "I'm just very disappointed that it's been put out there that I've resigned when I have not resigned. I need to see why they're asking for a resignation."

While Plowman is in limbo -- waiting for word from school administrators -- KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos headed to the school to find out who's telling the truth after numerous attempts to reach the school's administration. The school is closed for the summer, but we quickly discovered that the administration is moving forward without her.

We spoke with Debbie Bianco who said she was taking over Plowman's 3rd grade class and was at the school to get the classroom ready for the start of school.

Bianco didn't know enough about the situation to say which side is telling the truth, but hours later, board president Lydia Capara sent KGUN9 this email: "It was my understanding that Ms. Plowman had sent a letter of resignation. Obviously I was incorrect. For this I apologize."

Oops. Another apology by the school -- first to the student and her mother and now the teacher.

But a question still remains: Now what?

KGUN9 wanted to know: What are the policies governing teacher employment and contracts at charter schools? Cavazos contacted Deanne Rowe, the executive director of the Arizona State Board of Charter Schools. She said, "Charter schools have the autonomy to set their operational policies, including employment practices, within the confines of the laws of the state and it's really a school by school decision."

Capara sent another email to KGUN9. It stated, "All teachers sign annual contracts. In the contract it states that the teacher or Desert Springs Academy  can terminate contracts for no reason or any reason. It works both ways."

The terms of the separation may not have been worked out, but both sides are moving on. The school has a replacement and Ms. Plowman told KGUN9 she would not return to the school.