Parents object to teacher reassignment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 1999

Cracked voices and tears dominated as the future of one &uot;very good teacher&uot; was discussed Monday.

Tuesday, April 6, 1999

Cracked voices and tears dominated as the future of one &uot;very good teacher&uot; was discussed Monday.

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While the district must eliminate a high school physical education position because of declining enrollment, all the district’s gym teachers are tenured staff. State law only allows the release of tenured teachers if there are no other options.

But there is one other option.

Hawthorne Elementary School teacher Tom Dyrdal is also licensed in special education. Because of a retirement, a position is open in special education, and the district is considering reassigning Drydal.

Another teacher would then teach physical education at Hawthorne.

But a group of Hawthorne parents asked the school board to reconsider that option. They say Dyrdal has an incredible influence on Hawthorne youths, is a great teacher and a role model for the community.

They want the teacher who high-fives their children after every class to stay at Hawthorne.

&uot;Mr. Dyrdal was nominated for teacher of the year this week,&uot; said Hawthorne parent Julie Stoneking. &uot;He is obviously a super person. Is there anyway you can revamp this?&uot;

Because he didn’t attend Monday’s meeting, Dyrdal said he couldn’t comment, but he did say it’s been a difficult week since he learned of the possible reassignment, and he appreciates the concerns.

One of about 10 Hawthorne parents at the board meeting, Stoneking paused, struggling with emotions.

&uot;Mr. Dyrdal is a positive role model for 439 kids every week,&uot; Stoneking added. &uot;A large percentage of our students come from single parent families. Tom is the only positive male role model they have on a daily level.&uot;

With one current fifth-grader in his class, Hawthorne parent Karen Schulz said three of her four children have experienced Dyrdal’s &uot;great teaching.&uot;

Schulz also fought tears as she asked that Dyrdal remain at Hawthorne.

&uot;For the past several years there has been positive changes at Hawthorne,&uot; she said. &uot;Tom, in my opinion, is at the heart of those changes. Tom puts as much effort in the positive development of the psyche as he does in physical development.&uot;

She added, &uot;Tom Dyrdal is a terrific teacher where he is – at Hawthorne teaching gym. Those of us who know Tom, know his dream has been to stay in that position with his extended family of nearly 500 students.&uot;

Hawthorne parent Ramona Anderson also spoke at Monday’s meeting.

&uot;Mr. Dyrdal is so effective at pulling the best out of our children,&uot; Anderson said. &uot;He uses the enjoyment of physical education as a tool to build self-esteem, team building and acceptance for all of our children. He demonstrates the ability to build on each child’s strengths, adding to their self-worth.&uot;

By moving Dyrdal to special education, Schulz said she is concerned that he will seek employment elsewhere.

&uot;It’s nice to see the concern parents in the district have for good teachers,&uot; said Tom Eaton, school board chairman.

District Superintendent David Prescott thanked the parents for expressing their concerns.

While there isn’t a final decision, Prescott said Dyrdal is also a good special education instructor. Prior to teaching physical education, Dyrdal taught special education in Albert Lea.

Prescott said he understands that Dyrdal and many parents don’t want the reassignment, but it’s more of a state issue.

&uot;Yes, we tried to look at other options,&uot; he said. &uot;But a lot of what you’re talking about is out of our hands.&uot;

School board treasurer Grace Schwab recommended that concerned people call their legislators asking for changes in the state’s tenure laws.