Suit alleges retaliation for complaints on testing policy

K-12 Testing

A Birmingham, Alabama, public school employee who objected to the district’s methods for removing students from school has filed a federal lawsuit against city school officials alleging he was fired in retaliation for his public criticisms.


While working as an adult education instructor, Steve Orel charged that the district was forcing students out of school in an attempt to artificially inflate score averages on the Stanford 9 test. His suit claims that students enrolling in his classes to continue their education showed him school documents that said they were “withdrawn” due to “lack of interest,” which the students denied was true.


In one school, over 115 students left in this manner shortly before the Standord-9 was administered in the Spring of 2000. Allegations of push outs designed to raise test scores have surfaced in other districts and may be a major consequence of test-driven “school reform.”


After Orel raised concerns with the Birmingham school board, officials denied the charges. His contract was terminated shortly thereafter.


Orel’s suit seeks punitive and compensatory damages, and a ruling that the defendants’ action violated his right to freedom of speech.