Riverdale teacher received mostly positive evaluations


Barbara Williams, the Riverdale kindergarten teacher facing a first-degree misdemeanor charge for shoving a student, has received mostly positive evaluations during her 15 years in the district.

Riverdale Elementary Principal Julie Spade gave Williams evaluations that rated her effectiveness as “skilled” and “accomplished” and said Williams’ teaching “exceeds expectations.”

The evaluations also commended Williams for the amount of “love and respect” she encourages students to give each other.

The evaluator wrote that Williams had children sit on their hands when she gave instructions so they would pay more attention, and that a written reminder to raise their hands to speak was on the classroom board.

The Courier requested Williams’ personnel file Monday and received it Thursday. The file contains Williams’ evaluations, teaching applications, and letters between Williams and the Riverdale administration, among other documents.

A letter that Williams submitted when applying for a position at Riverdale explains what she called her “philosophy of education.” She wrote that discipline is a key component to encouraging children to learn.

“If behavior problems do arise, I use supportive discipline. I try to respond immediately and not let behavior problems distract the class from the teaching-learning process,” Williams wrote.

Williams also wrote that students must behave in an “acceptable manner” and that their “future depends on it.”

In 2002, Williams wrote a letter complaining about a bus driver’s treatment of students and their parents during a field trip to the Toledo Zoo. Williams said the driver yelled at students during the trip and that she heard stories of the bus driver threatening to write students up for leaving papers on the bus.

“If these stories were true, why would our school district allow someone like this to continue to represent Riverdale … This kind of behavior does not give a good impression of Riverdale,” Williams wrote.

Last month, Williams was caught on surveillance camera shoving and picking up 6-year-old Ian Nelson by his face and shirt in a school hallway.

Last weekend, the parents of another Riverdale student accused Williams of harming their child while he was a kindergarten student during the 2011-12 school year.

April and Bryce Blanton, of Forest, on Saturday filed a criminal complaint with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, claiming Williams harmed their son, Cleveland attorney Dan Margolis said.

In the complaint, Bryce Blanton said Williams grabbed his son’s arms and face, resulting in bruising.

Superintendent Eric Hoffman could not be reached for comment Thursday, and has declined to comment since the district suspended Williams without pay for 10 days in May.

The office of Jay Feldstein, Williams’ attorney, released a statement Thursday saying it would not comment on any allegations.

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