Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


TEA defends principals' rights

Three former Cheatham County principals will now receive back-pay after TEA filed suit against the district for unfairly demoting the three educators.

TEA filed suits on behalf of members Jenny Simpkins, Tim Ray and Angela McCarthy after former Cheatham County director of Schools Tim Webb demoted each principal without completing proper evaluations.

“This ruling proves that an appropriate, fair evaluation system is just as important for administrators as it is for teachers,” said Rick Colbert, TEA general counsel. “Fortunately, state law requires districts to evaluate administrators to protect them from being unfairly targeted like what occurred in this case.”

This win is one more example of the importance of administrators belonging to the Tennessee Education Association.

Read more about the case in the Tennessean article below.

From the Tennessean:
Three former Cheatham County school administrators who were transferred to teaching positions three years ago by former director of schools Tim Webb prevailed in a lawsuit they filed against the school district.

Jenny Simpkins, Tim Ray and Angela McCarthy filed suitsafter they were removed from their positions at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and reassigned to the classroom.

Simpkins was removed as principal at Sycamore High School and reassigned to a teaching position at Cheatham County Central High School.

Ray was removed as principal at the former Cheatham Academy (alternative school) and placed as a teacher at the same school.

Both Simpkins and Ray have since retired from the school district.

McCarthy was removed as assistant principal at Harpeth Middle School. After the decision was made, she took a job in Dickson County as the assistant principal at William James Middle School in White Bluff, which remains her current position.

All three maintained that Webb, who served as the director of schools from November 2010 to June 2012, never conducted evaluations on them during the 2011-2012 school year.

By not having the evaluations, the three maintained it was in violation of Tennessee State Board of Education policy and Cheatham County School Board policy.

Tennessee State Board of Education policy states a state-trained local evaluation facilitator should complete an evaluation process on every teacher and administrator in the school district.

Cheatham County School Board policy states the director of schools is responsible for ensuring that all administrative and supervisory personnel are evaluated annually.

In making his ruling, Wallace said all the i’s were not dotted and all the t’s were not crossed by the school district.

He said no specific reasons were given for the transfers of Simpkins, Ray and McCarthy and the evaluations were not done according to both state and local policy.

"The court finds no evidence that they (the transfers) were necessary," Wallace said.

Webb testified that the transfers were requested by the incoming administration for the 2012-2013 school year, which included current director of schools Stan Curtis and former chief academic officer Sharon Kinnard.

However, both Curtis and Kinnard testified that they did not make the specific requests.

In his ruling, Wallace noted that the testimony of Curtis and Kinnard was not consistent in regards to what Webb told the court.

The judge went on to say that there was no “apparent rhyme or reason” on record to transfer Simpkins, Ray and McCarthy.

Wallace pointed out that the cases were a result of Webb's "action or inaction" and not reflective of Curtis' administration.

Wallace ruled that all three receive monetary damages for the 2012-2013 school year — the immediate year following their transfers.

They will be paid the difference in salary from the 2011-2012 school year to the 2012-2013 school year.

For Simpkins, the decrease in pay for returning to the classroom was estimated at $23,800. The amount for Ray was estimated at $22,000. The two will also be compensated for their longevity pay.

The difference in salary for McCarthy from her previous Cheatham County job and the position she took in Dickson County is estimated at $6,000.

In addition, she will be compensated for having to pay a higher amount in health insurance in Dickson County for the 2012-2013 school year (which is estimated at about $6,000) and losing her longevity pay and three personal days in Cheatham County.

The defendant (the school district) is also responsible for court costs.

A final amount on what the school district must pay the three is not yet known as the numbers must be calculated.

A damage hearing is set for Jan. 19 if the two parties can't come to terms on the amount to be paid to Simpkins, Ray and McCarthy.


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