A math teacher and middle school wrestling coach resigned last month after an incident involving “inappropriate comments and topics” made in his classroom, according to official documents and school officials.
The News received word the third week of November that Michael Sullivan, who taught math at Tullahoma High School and also coached the Tullahoma Middle School Wrestling team, had resigned his position effective Nov. 14.
Interim Director of Schools Scott Hargrove sent The News a statement that read in full:
“Michael Sullivan tendered his resignation as an employee of Tullahoma City Schools effective November 14, 2019.”
When pressed for details on the resignation, Hargrove remained tight-lipped, only saying that Sullivan was “no longer” an employee of the school system.
But The News also secured a copy of a letter sent to Sullivan from THS Principal Kathy Rose Nov. 5 – nine days before his resignation.
In the letter, Rose addresses a meeting the two had that day that covered “inappropriate comments and topics by both teacher and students that were allowed to be discussed in the classroom, creating an uncomfortable environment for students” as well as “lack of classroom management which contributed to the environment that allowed such discussions to take place” and “an observed change in behavior which may coincide with health issues you have been having.”
According to Rose’s letter, the issues raised “could be defined as harassment/bullying,” which means the schools was “required to provide a corrective plan and support for parties involved.”
That plan included the following:
Sullivan was to be reassigned as a “math interventionist” rather than a math teacher and would “work in cooperation with another math teacher in a classroom.”
“Your focus will be on providing instructional support for students and observing teachers for the purpose of improving classroom management skills,” the letter reads. “Your teaching evaluation this year will be based upon your performance in this position.”
Another facet of his corrective plan included Sullivan’s seeking medical care to “eliminate a physical cause for any behavior changes [he] may be having” and providing documentation to Rose that visit occurred.
The third item to be included on his corrective plan, according to the letter, would be Sullivan seeking counseling to “work on stress management and appropriateness of behavior, topic and language choice when dealing with adolescents.”
The letter also states that Rose and the school chose not to “pursue further action” against Sullivan at that time. Sullivan would, however, be observed at some point throughout the rest of November and have a post-observation conference with an administrator. During this conference, Sullivan’s progress toward achieving the items on his corrective plan would be discussed.
“The administration of THS wants to work with you to hone your skills to help you be successful in the teaching profession. Please do not hesitate to let us know what we can do to assist you in this goal,” the letter ends.
Rather than continue working on the corrective plan and continue teaching, Sullivan chose to resign.
According to school officials, Sullivan did not have a severance agreement with the district.
Sullivan declined to comment.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.