Faces questions about lawsuit and mismanagement
In early October, the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) announced the resignation of its Executive Director Victoria Chamberlain, via a letter on its website. The statement did not provide any reason for the resignation, nor a timeframe for Ms. Chamberlain’s exit.
The posted letter billed Ms. Chamberlain’s action as “retirement” but sources state that at an estimated 57 years of age, she is too young to retire. Current and former staff uniformly report Ms. Chamberlain was often heard discussing her long range plans in education, which did not include leaving TSPC anytime soon. Many current and former staff members believe that the Executive Director’s resignation is abrupt and unplanned, and most likely in direct response to the ongoing audit by the Secretary of State. Secretary of State auditors have told current staff that their audit, which will be made public by the Legislative session in the Winter, will reveal many serious problems.
In addition to the ongoing audit, Ms. Chamberlain and the Commission face labor problems, legislative concerns, a staff vote of no confidence, ongoing complaints by state teachers and school superintendents, and the recent $91,000 payout to settle claims of violation of Oregon employment laws. OregonPEN reported on these problems in August, and remains the only Oregon news outlet to do so.
Our earlier reporting on TSPC is reprinted here:
The Teacher Standards & Practices Commission posted the resignation letter on October 6, 2015. To our knowledge, no other Oregon news sources has reported on this announcement. OregonPEN has sent an email to the commission asking for details on Ms. Chamberlain’s reason for departure and expected timeline for her exit.
Legislature Orders Audit of TSPC
Last spring, the Oregon Legislature requested that the Secretary of State conduct an emergency audit of TSPC after several days of targeted questions in the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education. This is an unusual step, since TSPC has a “pass through” budget, meaning it doesn’t draw from the General Fund. All of the monies spent by TSPC are dedicated from teachers’ license fees.
During the regular session Ways & Means hearings over the TSPC budget, many legislators expressed concerns over the extreme backlog in teacher licensing, which is reported to be the worst in the country. Legislators were especially vocal about the fact that the agency prevented many teachers from being able to call in, and posted lengthy backlogs in responding to emails from teachers. One Legislator said it reminded him of the movie “Groundhog Day” because Ms. Chamberlain comes before the Legislature every session with the same excuses for poor performance.
Several bills were introduced last session to carve away TSPC’s responsibilities to other agencies, which would indicate someone knows something’s wrong. One bill, which would have moved all of TSPC into the Department of Education, was converted near the end of session into the bill requiring the Secretary of State audit. The bill, in the version passed into law, is printed below.