Detroit, Education — July 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

BREAKING: Teacher fired from Pontiac schools for Trayvon Martin fundraiser now being fired by Education Achievement Authority


Message to teachers: Sit down and shut up.

NOTE: The location of Brooke Harris’s pretermination hearing, which is now closed to the public, has been changed. See update below.

In April of 2012, Brooke Harris, a teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence charter school, was fired for attempting to assist her students hold a fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin. A petition demanding that she be reinstated gathered 233,009 signatures.

Brooke Harris (in red) at the Save Michigan’s Public Schools rally flanked by rally organizers Stephanie Keiles, Betsy Coffia, and Rochelle Noel. [Photo credit: Save Michigan’s Public Schools]

After her firing, Harris took a job with the Michigan Education Achievement Authority, a special district comprised exclusively of “failing” schools, and began teaching at Mumford High School in Detroit.

Harris has been helping her students speak out about the poor conditions at their EAA schools and the inferior education they were receiving. In addition, she herself testified before the House Education Committee as well as the Education Achievement Authority Board meeting on May 9th, helping to expose the EAA’s failing of Detroit students.

Two weeks ago, Harris learned that she may very well be on her way to being fired again.

On the evening of Thursday, June 13, Harris received an email from her employer informing her that she was on paid leave pending an investigation. She was out of the state for an institute on mass incarceration (not related to her job) and just happened to check her email that evening before they deactivated her email account the following morning. Today, she found out by certified mail (that was sent to the wrong address on July 3) that she has a “pretermination hearing” on July 15th. Fortunately Harris had requested that all of her correspondence via mail be sent certified. This resulted in the U.S. Postal Service forwarding the mail that otherwise may never have reached her.

I asked Ms. Harris how she ended up at the EAA. “The honest answer is I needed a job after being fired from Pontiac Academy for Excellence charter school after filing paperwork on behalf of my students requesting a fundraiser in honor of Trayvon Martin,” she told me. “I’m from metro Detroit, always wanted to work in the city, and the EAA had a lot of open positions. I was offered the position at Mumford at a Starbucks in Southfield and took it immediately.”

“Did your new employer know about your firing from Pontiac?” I asked.

“I honestly don’t know if the EAA knew,” she said. “I checked the box on the application saying I’d been fired before and always answered that questions honestly in interviews. But the EAA hiring process was outsourced through Harvard and was so unorganized in the end (hence the interview and offer at a Starbucks).”

Brooke Harris’ experience with the EAA tells us a great deal about how poorly it’s being managed. Job offers in coffee shops, wrong addresses for critical, sensitive communications, and a hiring process that was outsourced. Harris says that her English students are now on their 4th substitute teacher this year. “Every class that was taught by a sub last quarter (and there were quite a few) was missing grades for students which messed up their GPAs,” she said.

What is happening to Harris is that she is being used as an example to frighten other teachers into keeping quiet and not speaking out about what’s happening in the EAA schools.

There is a petition that can be signed HERE. Wayne State University professor and education activist Thomas Pedroni has started a Facebook page titled “Save Our Teacher Brooke Harris!! Stop Eli Broad’s Vile Experimentation!!”

If you wish to attend Brooke Harris’ pretermination hearing, it is on July 15th at 9 a.m. at the EAA headquarters at 3022 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.

EAA officials have made Brooke’s hearing closed to the public and moved the venue to:

2500 Fisher Building
3011 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, Michigan 48202-3030

Read more about that HERE.

  • GG

    I don’t understand the connection between Mumford HS and Starbucks.

    • They offered her the Mumford teaching job at a Starbucks instead of at the school.

      • Maria Huffman

        What’s wrong with that? There’s free wifi at Starbucks. I don’t know how that matters.

  • Aaron Camp

    To me, it looks like this teacher is being fired for testifying before a state legislative committee and blowing the whistle on the Michigan EAA’s bad practices. That’s clearly an attempt by the Michigan EAA to silence those who speak out against their mismanagement.

    • MumfordEducator

      Nope…its just her! I do not think she is as interested in teaching as she is having articles mentioning her name in them. She should be a politician not an educator. Shes black listing herself…not very smart!!!

  • TeacherPatti

    A friend of mine taught at an EAA school and told me horror stories. Like having 90 kids on a class roster (70 some showed up), “teaching” in a large auditorium, having to sign in and out of the building using your thumb print, getting in trouble for not “controlling” your students as they entered the large auditorium for class. But the biggest problem she said was that most of this is for show. The longer day, the longer year…it’s a dog & pony show. The personalized education didn’t happen, the professional development didn’t happen, the rigorous curriculum didn’t happen…it’s basically lip service to appease the funders and the public. Chris, if you want to private message me I can give you here email…she might be willing to talk with you (she’s a public school now, thank goodness).

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  • Anon

    Before you comment and protest for this teacher, please think about how there are always two sides to a story. All of these articles that are written portraying Brooke Harris as a martyr fail to mention that she is using impressionable students to push her agenda. As an educator, I feel that this practice is highly unethical.

    Furthermore, the article is incomplete and inaccurate. Why is there no mention of the prior disciplinary action taken against her? How about the other 50 teachers and staff members that are making it work at Mumford? The facts are not straight about her unpaid leave. Also, the article completely omits the fact that she text-ed and tweeted for students to leave the building in the middle of the day during a “walkout” protesting the extended school year.

    Ms. Harris,you signed up to work at a start-up district. You knew the year would be long and the road would be rocky. If you don’t like the way things are done, suggest viable alternatives and work in a positive way to make those changes; complaining and pushing your political agenda on children is not the answer.

    • your friend

      you seem to like to reply to any and all articles about ms. harris. unless you foia’d information or work for the EAA in the head office then you can’t throw around such libelous statements. also if you knew information you’d know she wasn’t even at work the day the students walked out.

  • Sanfordhope

    Trayvon Martin was all about education. Check out his FL high school transcripts !

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