According to a packet of information Fox10 News Reporter Candace Murphy obtained from the Mobile County Public School System, Leah Browning will serve as the new assistant principal of JE Turner Elementary School for the 2014-2015 school year. Browning was formally a teacher at Collier Elementary School and is one of many new hires at J.E Turner Elementary.
Wednesday June 16, the MCPSS released the names of 12 teachers who have accepted teaching positions at Turner Elementary. The school system said about half of those teachers transferred from other schools.
Staff shake up
The staff shake up at the school comes after 26 teachers filed a grievance against Turner’s formal principal Missy Nolen during the 2013-2014 school year. July 2, the MCPSS released information Nolen was transferred to teach at Mobile County’s new online school, Envision Academy. However, on July 10, Nolen resigned to take a director position with Thomasville City Schools according to Mobile County Public School Superintendent Martha Peek.
20 teachers transferred
At the end of the year, school officials said 20 teachers were handed mandatory transfers. Sources said of the 20 teachers given mandatory transfers, only five are returning to teach at Turner. Parents learned of the Turner teacher transfers at the beginning of June when Martha Peek addressed parents in a meeting.
“When we put it in as a mandatory transfer, then teachers have an option of then working to agree where they want to go or it may be that they decide they want to stay. But it’s a negotiated process or it’s a discussion point between the school system and the teachers,” Peek said.
Teachers claim they didn’t have a choice
Since then, several of the teachers who were given mandatory transfers have been placed at other schools and the teachers said they weren’t given a choice to stay at Turner.
Fox10 News received an e-mail from one teacher that read:
“I wished to remain at Turner as did (most) everyone else. It was recommended that we all begin interviewing at different schools which was a clear indication that we would not be allowed to return to Turner as we hoped.”
Another teacher who also spoke out said she thought she would be back at Turner for the 2014-2015 school year.
“I had an interview with the principal and she told me she wanted all her teachers back at Turner. I thought it went very well and it was going to be a great thing for this year and now we’re getting placed at other schools were not getting a choice because if we deny going to that school you have to appeal and go to a hearing,” the teacher explained.
Superintendent explains teacher’s options
“There’s still the option if somebody wanted to say “no this is not what I wanted to do”, there’s still an option to appeal as mandatory transfer,” Peek said.
But teachers said by the time the appeal process rolls around, it’s too late.
In the e-mail sent to Fox10 News, the teacher explained the process this way:
“Our jobs at Turner are gone. They were never even an option for us. If we do appeal what happens? Well, we get put on administrative leave because the appeal hearing will take place once school starts.”
A retired teacher explained the process at the central office, “The (school) system only has to offer the teacher a position that reflects their certification. You can appeal, but the (school) board does not know the circumstances of what took place.”
School Board member Doug Harwell explained the board votes for or against Peek’s recommendations. The former teacher claims those recommendations are “based on what Mr. (Bryan) Hack, the HR head tells her the principal wants”.
June 16, Fox10 News requested documents from the school system detailing the history of teacher transfers at each Mobile County Public School in the past five years. Peek said Fox10 News will have those documents Thursday, July 24.