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School board to pay $320K to teacher suit over dismissal

December 17, 2020 GMT

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Opelika’s city school board will pay $320,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former teacher who claimed she was dismissed in retaliation for speaking out about the mistreatment of a special education student.

The Opelika-Auburn News reported that members agreed Monday to end the suit filed by Meagan Norris, who taught at Jeter Primary School.

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Norris reported to an administrator in 2017 that she had been a physical education teacher improperly using a barrier made of tape to segregate a special needs student from other children. The incident led to a series of meetings and a hearing, and two physical education teachers claimed they saw Norris drop a child.

The superintendent recommended against renewing Norris’ contract in May 2018, but a state child welfare investigation found no indicate that Norris had abused a child.

Principal David Carpenter and others said performance issues were behind the decision to get rid of Norris, she had received favorable written performance evaluations during her two years at the school, a judge’s memorandum said.

In a statement, the school board said it determined its employees “behaved appropriately at all times,” but its attorneys recommended settling.