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Professor comes under fire for Fayette school tech comments

A recent letter to The Citizen from Fayette County resident and Mercer University professor Mary Kay Bacallao throws a different light on the Fayette County School System’s move ...

to 21st Century Classroom Technology.

The issue she faced was not with the bid, but with how she was dealt with by some of the school system’s employees last year after questioning aspects of the technology being envisioned for the school system. [Her letter is here.]

Bacallao said she had been invited to attend a Superintendent’s Roundtable Discussion on 21st Century Technology in October 2009. During that meeting, Bacallao said she asked questions and made comments about the use of certain software and how it would interface with the software the school system was potentially expecting to use.

Bacallao said her comments appeared to trouble Technology Services Director Curt Cearley and Instructional Technology Specialist Robyn Miller, leading to them questioning if she was a teacher.

Beyond the meeting, Bacallao said her departmental supervisor at Mercer was contacted two days later by someone saying he was Robyn Miller’s husband and complaining about her “disagreeable behavior” at the meeting.

”It is also a good thing that I am a full professor with tenure,” Bacallao told The Citizen. “What do I have to gain from expressing my opinion? Nothing personally really, but I have something to suffer for if I don’t agree with the technology coordinator Curt Cearley or Robyn Miller, or in this case, Robyn Miller’s husband who took it upon himself to report me to my boss.”

Bacallao said she was told the man calling himself Miller’s husband told her supervisor that Bacallao had “brought shame on Mercer.”

Asked by The Citizen if either Cearley or Miller had any comments about Bacallao’s statements and if Miller’s husband is a school system employee, Communications Director Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said, “The only discussion that I can confirm is what is reflected in the minutes. (Superintendent John) DeCotis holds roundtable meetings about twice a year which involve members of the community, parents, school system staff and other stakeholders. There is a topic of discussion at each meeting. Attendees often ask questions of presenters. As reflected in the minutes, some questions were asked and Curt Cearly answered them. The comments you reference are not indicated in the minutes, which is the official record of the discussion at that meeting.”

Berry-Dreisbach said Miller’s husband was not employed by the school system.

The minutes of the meeting were general in nature and did not included specific back and forth comments between participants.

For her part, Bacallao said she was invited to the meeting and stands by her comments and questions pertaining to the various technologies referenced in the October 2009 meeting.

Bacallao ran against Post 2 school board member Terri Smith in 2008. Bacallao’s four children attend Fayette County schools.

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