BELVIDERE - In a letter given to district leaders on Monday, the teachers union says "It's impossible to put our students first if these administrators continually bully, belittle, ignore, and otherwise demoralize their faculty and staff."
The rift between teachers and administrators there isn't new. The process leading up to this week started last spring when some teachers originally wanted to vote, but they held off hoping communication with the principal and two assistant principals would improve.
The teachers union says the vote of no confidence is to get their voices heard, and hopefully clear up a 'culture of fear.'
"One of the teachers that got fired, I've had before,"
Not right, because Marquez thinks the administrators doing the evaluations don't fully know the teacher's they're critiquing.
"They're always changing every year," said Marquez. "There is a new assistant principal every year, so I don't see how they could possibly know how well a teacher is by only being here for one year."
On Monday, 95% of teachers present at the high school voted that they had no confidence in the leadership of principal Todd Martens or two of his assistants.
"Communication has to be opened up," said Belvidere Education Association president Mark Luthin. "And our teachers have tried and communication has been shut down."
"They are using it to target teachers to essentially get rid of them," said Luthin.
The union claims inconsistent polices and rules have led to confusion, and that a change in overall atmosphere has teachers fearing they could lose their jobs if they speak out.
"They feel like they're being judged every single moment," said Luthin. "And you can't teach like that."
Luthin says new courses created mid-year without proper planning and communication don't match curriculum requirements, and that the level of education has been lowered.
"Some of what the students are learning, does not match the title of the class," said Luthin.
Like Algebra Two, Luthin says there are three different levels being taught, one of which shouldn't qualify for credit but students "are still getting credit for algebra two," said Luthin.
While these teachers continue to navigate a 'culture of fear' at work, students there are left upset and confused why five of the most experienced instructors won't be returning next fall.
"They just really help you with all your homework, they really help you with everything that you do, and they're really supportive," said Marquez.
The District's administration would not comment on the vote saying it goes against the district's policy to speak about personnel matters.
So far, the teachers union says they have not heard back from the school board or administration about the vote.