Fired For Protecting Students' Legal Rights: We Want Lor Back in MPS!

Here is the story of a dedicated social worker, wonderful with the elementary kids he works with and why he is so needed in our schools. The story he tells is familiar to so many staff of color and social justice minded people in our schools - staff getting disciplined and fired for advocating for students. Administration bullying staff rather than supporting them. We all deserve our rights, and need staff like Lor to have our schools be what they can be. 

Please come out this Tuesday to fight for Lor and others like him! 

"I have been the school social worker at Hmong International Academy for the past two school years. I was born in Thailand in 1980 and came to America in 1981 with my family. I lived in Minneapolis and attended Kenwood elementary until I was nine years old. I am also a product of the Minneapolis Public School system. I see myself in our students and our families and I work hard at providing them a fair and appropriate education. I believe in doing what is right for our students and our families. 

I was recommended not to be rehired in the district and I was trying to have my case reviewed because I believe that this "no recommendation for rehire" was in retaliation from my administration for not expediting a special education evaluation for a student and for reporting the incident to the special education director. I was asked to develop an evaluation plan for the parents to sign off on. Legally, a parent would have to request an evaluation or the school should have had interventions in place and collected data to show that the student needs special education services. We did not have any data nor did the parent give us a request for special education services. The parent denied special education and did not believe that his student needed special education services. 

Initially, I declined to expedite an evaluation without intervention data, and administration stated that my actions were considered “Insubordination and grounds for termination.” Myself and a case manager were forced to illegally develop a special education evaluation plan and have it ready to be presented to the parents. I believe the plan was to go into a parent meeting without the appropriate procedures and have parents sign off on an evaluation plan to assess the student for special education services without thoroughly going through the intervention process. Administration stated that my initial refusal to expedite the evaluation was considered insubordination and grounds for termination. 

The administration forced me to log into my EdPlan account and she entered an evaluation plan for the student with my log in. I notified administration of appropriate steps to have a student evaluated for special education but I was told that they had previously developed evaluation plans for students without previous interventions or parent requests. I told them that I was trained to do evaluation plans differently. I emailed the special education director and copied administration to confirm to clarify the special education evaluation process. The director confirmed that I was correct, in terms of how to initiate an evaluation. The next school day, administration calls me to the office and asks me why I sent the special education director that email. The administration denied having asked me to expedite a special education email. 

A week later, I was notified that I was not going to be rehired for the upcoming school year. 

The week I went to ask for my release paperwork from my School Administrative Manager. She asked me to go back to her office at the end of the day. When I returned to her office, she accused me of being rude and demanding. She stated that she was my superior and I could not be demanding things from her. I reminded her that she was the one who asked me to come back to her office at the end of the day. I stated that I was not sure what she was trying to do but I was not sure why it was an issue for me to ask her for a copy of my release paperwork. I asked her if they were trying to change something on the paperwork but I just wanted a copy of it. She leaves her office and returns with a copy of it. I was fired the next day and asked to leave the building immediately because the School Administrative Manager reported that I was being rude towards her. My actions were deemed unprofessional and my employment at HIA was terminated. 

I have been dedicated to my work at Hmong International Academy and have advocated for creating a positive environment in our building for our staff and students. I care deeply about our students and families. I have always believed in the power of positive relationships. I work hard at developing great relationships with staff, families, and most importantly, our students. I believe that I was wrongly let go from Hmong International Academy. I have been a positive part of the school and would love to continue to be a part of it. I do not believe that I was allowed a fair and appropriate due process. I was also notified that employees are supposed to receive an exit interview with the school board when their employment has been discontinued. I was notified that employees of color are supposed to receive an exit interview when their employment has been discontinued and I have not received one. I would like to receive an interview to discuss my situation and the possibility of retaining my employment at Minneapolis Public Schools. Thank you for your time."