SAUNDRA THOMPSON v. MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 21, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Richard L. Colbert and Courtney L. Wilbert, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Saundra Thompson.

Attorneys 2:

Robert L. J. Spence, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Memphis City Schools Board of Education.

Judge(s): CLARK

We granted this appeal to determine whether a tenured teacher’s failure to return from sick leave amounts to a constructive resignation or a forfeiture of tenure. We hold that, although a tenured teacher’s failure to return from sick leave may constitute cause for termination, there is no statute authorizing a board of education to deem it a constructive resignation or a forfeiture of tenure. Accordingly, by dismissing the plaintiff tenured teacher without providing her with written charges or an opportunity for a hearing, the defendant board of education violated her rights under the Tennessee Teacher Tenure Act and her constitutional right to due process of law protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Thus, the plaintiff is entitled to reinstatement, back pay consisting of her full salary, compensatory damages for the actual harm she sustained, and attorney’s fees. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals, reinstate the judgment of the trial court, and remand to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this decision.

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