Lawsuit filed after school closures cost teachers jobs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some Shelby County teachers are firing back at Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and the entire Shelby County School Board.

They say after a number of schools were taken over by the state, merged with other schools or just closed all together, they’re left hanging with no jobs.

Now they’re asking a judge to intervene.

Five teachers, along with the Memphis/Shelby County Education Association, filed a lawsuit because they say administers aren’t honoring their tenure.

“I also have applied to over 70 positions. I’m not only a tenured teacher, I’m a high degree teacher. I hold a Ed.S in administration and supervision. I’ve applied to those positions as well and I haven’t received a call back or anything,” said Heather Bee.

Bee has 30 days to find a job after the state took over Coleman Elementary. She has 14 years experience, but must convince a principal to hire her or she’s unemployed.

She’s not one of them but, other teachers with the same problem joined the local education association in a lawsuit that demands the district honor their tenure.

“We’re hoping the courts will force this district to live up to the terms of the tenure law which says that teachers who have tenure to teach in this state, it is a property right, if they are competent teachers and there is a position for which they are available in the district,” said Williams.

Williams says the district is using the Best Fit Method, where principals decide whose best for their individual schools.

“If a principal does not like me, I don’t get a job. That’s best fit. They must like you. You must come and fit into their world and must do as they say and if you don’t, you don’t get a job,” said Williams.

WREG contacted Shelby County Schools about how teachers are affected by the closures.

A spokesperson said because this is a legal matter they won’t comment.

“It may be an economic thing I don’t know what it is but when this system and city say when people have paid their dues here can no longer work here. We’re going to supplant you with these new untested, unqualified folks. there’s a problem,” said Williams.

Bee says she is qualified and has received good evaluations regularly.

“I have good marks throughout my career. That’s why it’s kind of shocking that I’m in this position today looking for a job,” said Bee.

Williams claims Teach for America teachers are being placed in jobs that should go to the experienced and tenured.


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