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Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 5:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 7:25 PM
TROTWOOD — UPDATED @ 8:40 p.m. (April 19)
Trotwood-Madison school board members voted to not renew the contract of a high school teacher who took 50 students on an unsanctioned field trip last month to a college campus.
More than 100 people showed up in support of Khaliah Forte, who addressed the board to defend her actions and to dispute that administrators said she wasn’t a fit in the building.
“I live in Trotwood. I go to church in Trotwood. I’m a part of this community, my kids attend Trotwood City Schools. we are this community. We participate in all we can in this district. I go to football games, basketball games, all sporting competitions’ signing days, inductions, every school board meeting and city council meeting,” Forte said. “When I walk into the building at 7:30 in the morning and I lay eyes on those kids, they all become my kids.”
Board President Denise Moore said she couldn’t say anything specific about the nonrenewal because it was a personnel matter.
“It’s not about people, it’s not about positions, it’s not about personalities and it’s not about politics — it’s about policy,” she said.
Moore said she wasn’t surprised so many parents, students and community members turned out in support of Forte.
“I think people came out because they care, people came out because they are engaged in the Trotwood-Madison City School District.”
Parent Kalisha Smith, who said she helped to organize the trip, said there were no complaints from hotels or bus company used by the students. She said Forte provided an educational opportunity that has changed her youngest daughter for the better.
“No teacher deserves this trying to make something better for the students on her own personal time,” she said.
UPDATED @2:25 p.m. (April 19)
Trotwood-Madison school board officials on Thursday afternoon canceled their 5:30 p.m. special meeting, which had been scheduled “to investigate complaints against a public official.”
The district’s regular school board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., will still take place.
Trotwood High School teacher Khalilah Forte is facing a possible termination for taking 50 students on a college visit in March that was not approved by the school.
The Trotwood City Schools board has called a special meeting to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district administrative offices, 3594 N. Snyder Road. The board will immediately go into executive session.
According to documents from last week’s meeting, the board plans a vote Thursday on whether to non-renew Forte’s teaching contract, effective May 24, the day after students’ last day of school.
This news organization has requested Forte’s personnel file, to examine any disciplinary documents related to the case.
Community leaders and parents say Forte was trying to help students who might not have a chance to experience a college visit. They also said parent and local organizations raised the money for the trip.
Board member Norman Scearce said the trip was not taken on school time and the board will be voting Thursday on whether to terminate Forte.
The Rev. James Washington, pastor of Phillips Temple Church, said he knows Forte personally and that “She loves children, she loves the instruction of children and she loves what she does.”
Washington also said Forte was just trying to help the children.
According to the letter, which also was posted to social media, a Trotwood principal warned Forte she could lose her job if she took students on the unsanctioned trip.
Neither school district officials nor Principal David White would comment on the situation. Forte also said she was unable to comment.