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Brandy Paternoster is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to make #180DaysCount in school.  Her compelling address at the Broward County Public Schools’ Board meeting yesterday, is an indictment of the district’s position and their appeal of Judge Karen Giever’s Court ruling on August 26.

Watch as she holds the Broward County School Board accountable for their failure to do what is right for students (beginning at 0:50):


Retired educator and Opt Out Broward administrator, Dr. Trudy Jermanovich strengthened Brandy’s position with her own address. Watch, as she schools Broward School Board on an authentic portfolio for third grade promotion:

“This board must learn to start trusting teachers. Give them guidelines and set them free to teach. You have the ability to stop playing games with children’s lives. I urge you to stop supporting the DOE in its endless attempts at stalling the Third Grade lawsuit.”


Here is a transcript of Brandy’ Paternoster’s address:

“Good afternoon. My name is Brandy Paternoster and these are my 4th grade twins, Dylan and Jadyn. They have attended Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston since the first grade. They passed the 3rd grade last year …according to their teachers and according to their report cards, but the district says they must be retained.

My children met test participation requirement by signing the FSA test booklet and breaking the seal. At no time was I ever notified that either child has a reading deficiency. Two days before school ended, the principal advised us that without a test score, both children did not meet criteria to be promoted to 4th grade. I requested that a portfolio of their school work be compiled to prove proficiency as outlined in state Administrative Code and was told that such a thing does not exist. I demanded that my children be promoted based on their report cards per Florida Statute 1008.25 (6)(b)7.c)1. which clearly states:

“Requests for good cause exemptions for students from the mandatory retention requirement… …shall consist only of the existing PMP, IEP, report card, or student portfolio.”

I was ignored. The principal stated that it was coming down from the district and that without a test score, her hands were tied.

“Let’s get them to 4th grade” she said. “That’s where they should be! Just have them take the SAT-10 test and this can all be resolved!”

I refused any additional testing because test participation requirement had already been met and our children are more than a test score!

As part of the school board’s case against us in the “3rd Grade Retention Lawsuit” the principal filed an affidavit. Here is a quote:

“18. Based on the above information and my numerous years as an educator, I do not believe either student has the reading ability to complete 4th grade material.”
-Heather Hedman-DeVaughn, Principal – Manatee Bay Elementary

This is a direct quote from the principal’s sworn statement. Let that sink in. Back in June, all they needed was a test score to promote. Now, all of a sudden, they are not even proficient? You see, in addition to providing the facts and dates and emails and documents as required of her in her affidavit, this “educator” made a choice. Her statement could have read, “Because they did not meet the state requirement…” or “Because they don’t have a test score…” and though I don’t agree with either statement, they would still have supported the districts stance without crossing any lines. But she didn’t. She made a choice. For a test score.

“I do not believe either student has the reading ability to complete 4th grade material.”

She chose to lie. I don’t know if her statement was influenced by her supervisors (I suspect that it was) or if she chose those words all by herself. We may never know, but make no mistake, she made a choice.

Mrs. DeVaughn made a choice to NOT stand up for children who were present in the classroom for 180 days of work, who do not have a reading deficiency and who clearly are on grade level. She chose not to support her teachers, whom she hired, or their ability to teach and grade students effectively and accurately. She chose not to trust in their teaching certificates or their degrees or their most basic moral character. She chose not to back her own school or the systems she has put in place to ensure her wards navigate the education system successfully.

Mrs. DeVaughn chose to support a testing system that is broken and in doing so betrayed it all. Her statement says that her school failed to catch, not one, but two students who supposedly can’t keep up but passed all subjects. It says that her hiring practices failed. It says that two good teachers are incompetent liars. It says that two amazing children are failures.

For a test score.

Mrs. DeVaughn chose to sacrifice 2 children to the gods of “The Test” presumably to garner some unimaginable favor. She chose wrong. And you, as school board members, chose wrong when you decided to appeal Judge Gievers’ ruling. Her ruling untied your hands and gave you the opportunity to say, “Ya know what, we screwed up, but we’re gonna fix it now,” but you didn’t.

I leave you with one final thought.

My tax dollars, your tax dollars are paying for lawyers to fight against children who are clearly proficient, as defined by the letter of the law – to punish me for standing up and saying “NO” to a flawed testing system. Our tax dollars are being used to appeal the judge’s ruling, that was in our favor, that said, “Yes, the FDOE and the Broward County School Board did indeed act unlawfully”; to make an example of us for daring to have a voice and to ensure that no one else will ever be brave enough to do the same.

Let me be clear. I will not go quietly into the night.”

I stand here for our teachers.

I stand here for our children.

They are more than a test score!

Thank you.”

Sincere thanks to the members of the Broward Teachers Union for supporting Brandy and Trudy by yielding their time so that they could properly address these issues with the Broward Board.
The plaintiff families are fighting to hold the FLDOE and school districts accountable to the PUBLIC.  They are fighting for all children in Florida public schools.

You can support their efforts by donating to gofundme.com/StopGr3Retention

To learn more about the lawsuit to fight mandatory third grade retention, follow the hashtag #180DaysCount on Facebook and Twitter.

A complete copy of Judge Gievers’ ruling and Court Order can be found here.

9/04 UPDATE – 3rd Grade Lawsuit
A WIN For Education in Florida Today!
Fighting for the Soul of Education in Florida – Day 1

– Why we do this: bit.ly/PositionStatement
– THIRD GRADE OPT OUT GROUP for help and support: bit.ly/OOFL3rd
– For statewide information and suggested reading: Website
– For the most current news on education/testing: The Opt Out Florida Network