A Woodlawn Middle School teacher who has been on administrative leave for five months is asking a judge to reinstate him, claiming he is being “punished’’ for reporting alleged misuse of standardized testing in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
At the heart of Nikos Maris’ lawsuit against the School Board is an in-house standardized testing system called Edusoft.
Instead of waiting until the end of the year to find out how well students are mastering what appears on the state’s LEAP and iLEAP tests, Edusoft tests are given at the end of each unit.
The information is used to help teachers discover student weaknesses and teach material again if necessary.
The process is known as benchmark assessment.
Maris, a math teacher with a master’s degree and doctorate in engineering, alleges in his lawsuit the Edusoft materials and tests “were being improperly used and administered by his school and were resulting in false and inaccurate data.’’
“Since such false and inaccurate data inflated the performance level of the students, such improper activity was a benefit to the school and the school system and thus Dr. Maris’ complaints were not only unheeded but he is being punished for disclosing such improprieties,’’ according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 16 in state District Court.
System officials cannot comment on a pending legal matter, said Chris Trahan, a spokesman for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, on Monday.
“We look forward to addressing these claims in the proper venue,’’ he said.
State District Judge Todd Hernandez has scheduled a hearing in the case for Thursday.
Maris contends he noticed a “disconnect’’ between the state-mandated LEAP and the Edusoft test scores, and student progress on the Edusoft test was “significantly higher’’ than on the iLEAP or LEAP tests.
He said he also observed the test and testing procedures were not being conducted according to the benchmark assessment program or rules.
As Maris began to air his complaints, school administrators “suddenly began to criticize him and began issuing numerous unfounded and erroneous written reprimands which were placed in his personnel file,’’ the lawsuit said.
“His evaluations were lowered immediately. He was eventually transferred away from teaching duties and, even though he has a Ph.D and his students were performing above the school average, Dr. Maris was removed from the classroom,’’ the lawsuit said.
Maris was placed on administrative leave in April “for reasons unknown and told not to return to the school,’’ the lawsuit said.
Maris’ attorney, Winston Decuir Sr., argued in a memorandum attached to the lawsuit the state’s whistleblower law “prohibits reprisal against public employees for reporting wrongdoing.’’
Maris, who claims he has been “effectively and constructively discharged’’ from the school system, is seeking reinstatement and damages.