The Tullahoma City Schools Board of Education has agreed to settle a lawsuit from a former TCS educator.
At a special called meeting held Monday, Nov. 4, the school board voted 6-1 to approve a settlement agreement from former veteran special education preschool teacher Amy Dodson.
Dodson was fired in June for failing to “follow the chain of command and model integrity through honesty and transparency” in regards to the district’s special education preschool program.
Dodson was accused of providing “instruction and support” to someone living outside the city limits in order for that person’s child to attend the city’s special education preschool program for the last two years.
According to the charges against her, Dodson instructed another former TCS educator, Ashley Davis, a Lynchburg resident, to use her mother’s Tullahoma address in order for her son to be admitted into the preschool program.
“Dodson’s actions represent a gross failure to perform duties and responsibilities that reasonably can be expected of one in such capacity,” the charges read. “Dodson was dishonest with TCS in her performances of her duties and responsibilities.”
During the meeting, only school board member Jessica Fogarty was opposed to the settlement agreement.
According to School Board Chairman Pat Welsh, the proposed settlement agreement was a better use of the board’s time, as well as the district’s finances.
“In my opinion, the estimate of the attorney’s fees, if we go as far as it could go legally – the proposed settlement is much cheaper,” Welsh said. “I want the board’s time reaching out and attracting the best superintendent we can possibly find. I don’t want any distractions to that.”
Welsh added he didn’t want whoever the new director of schools would be to have to worry about litigation from the previous administration.
“To be honest, if this went as far as the other side could take it, in appeals and so forth, the new director would have to facing those same distractions, and I don’t want [her or him] to have to deal with anything other than improving our school system if at all possible,” he said.
The board’s vote is not the final step in the process, however. According to School Board Attorney Clifton Miller, the documents must be finalized before the matter is put to bed.
“Right now it’s not finalized. The board [only] voted to approve, in principal, the settlement,” Miller told The News. “The settlement documents have got to be finalized.”
This is not the only lawsuit the board is dealing with. A second teacher who was also formally fired by the district in June, Sarah Harwell, also has pending litigation against the board.
Harwell, a Manchester resident, provided the address of a coworker at East Lincoln Elementary School in order for her son to “qualify for enrollment in the Pre-K Program,” according to the charges against her earlier this year.
According to Miller, Harwell’s lawsuit against the board is scheduled to go to trial in December.
Dodson’s attorney, Eric Burch, was unavailable for comment.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.