Suspended Blount teacher considers legal action
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
A suspended Heritage Middle School teacher is considering legal action against Blount County Schools for allegedly withholding $1,000 worth of her personal property.
Sally Jo Witty, who is suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation, filed
an incident report with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office Friday, alleging that school officials are withholding personal belongings and denying her an opportunity to retrieve them. The teacher said she has personal items in her classroom.
Witty hasn’t been allowed back on school grounds due to the investigation, the report said. The teacher filed the incident report at the request of her attorney, Kevin W. Shepherd.
Blount County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeff Hicks and School Resource Officer Terry Orr have been advised of the matter, the report said. Witty has been advised of her legal options.
The teacher said she’s working with Shepherd to address the issue and they are considering legal action against the district.
Blount County Director of Schools Rob Britt declined to comment.
Witty’s personnel file doesn’t contain any information related to the suspension. However, the teacher provided a copy to The Daily Times.
School officials are investigating allegations of neglect of duty, incompetence and insubordination stemming from an Aug. 1 incident.
Witty reported Aug. 1 for a professional development seminar in skorts, or a pair of women’s shorts with a fabric panel resembling a skirt that covers the front, according to the district’s reprimand. Administrators said the skorts weren’t long enough and were inappropriate.
School officials allege that she disobeyed directives to change clothes, spoke with other employees about the incident and played segments of tape-recorded conversations for them. They also documented concerns with her competence, personal appearance and hygiene.
“Your behavior has been erratic, resulting in employees asking about your well-being and unfitness for service,” the reprimand said. “You have been overtly unprofessional, confrontational and insubordinate to the administration and other employees. You have postured to intimidate and bully others through the use of a tape recorder, making open-ended comments with threats of legal action and have refused to respond or comply without first consulting your attorney or BCEA representative. You have boasted claims about past and/or current lawsuits you have or are a party to against Blount County agencies. Be professional. Comply. Demonstrate appropriate emotional stability.”
Administrators recommended that Witty complete evaluations for emotional stability, fitness and mental health. They also recommended that she produce valid prescriptions and maintain those prescriptions in a safe manner.
The investigation is ongoing.