Originally created 03/01/05

Teacher appeals decision



A former Alternative School teacher who was fired for refusing to teach appealed the one-year suspension of her teaching certificate Monday.

Brenda Wynn's appeal forced top Richmond County school leaders to appear in court Monday to rehash the circumstances of the teacher's termination in 2003 and undergo direct questioning from Ms. Wynn. Superintendent Charles Larke and Assistant Superintendent Missoura Ashe were among six school officials appearing on the witness stand during the daylong hearing at the Law Enforcement Center.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission ordered the suspension of Ms. Wynn's teaching license based on her conduct, but the teacher appealed, saying the decision was not legally proper.

No decision was made Monday. Administrative Law Judge Catherine Crawford is expected to rule within 30 days.

Ms. Wynn says she was traumatized by the "illegal" firing in September 2003, robbed of unemployment benefits and left homeless. Representing herself in court, Ms. Wynn defended her refusal to teach keyboarding to sixth-graders, saying she was certified only to teach grades 7-12 and was not given proper classroom materials by Principal Wayne Frazier.

"Do you think Dr. Frazier had an obligation to provide this teacher with textbooks?" Ms. Wynn asked Dr. Ashe.

"Ms. Wynn, you had an obligation to teach students with what you had," Dr. Ashe said. "As a veteran educator, you should have had something under your belt to teach them until you had what you needed."

Ms. Wynn continually questioned school officials on their legal authority for ordering her to teach a class outside of her certification. She also presented a signed agreement with the school district saying she would only have to teach pupils in grades 7-12.

But Phil Blackwell, with the state's Professional Standards Commission, testified that the law allowed Ms. Wynn to teach sixth-graders for a "minor part of the school day" as long as she had sufficient experience in business education.

"She had a master's degree in business education," Mr. Blackwell said.

Most of the witnesses testified that Ms. Wynn went into a rage and acted unprofessionally around pupils and staff members. Dr. Larke testified that he ordered Ms. Wynn to meet with him over the matter. "She said if I wanted to meet with her, I would have to put my request in writing," Dr. Larke said.

The principal said Ms. Wynn constantly was "disrespectful, abrasive and uncooperative." She stopped teaching, allowed pupils to roam the halls and told pupils to complain to school board members, Dr. Frazier said.

The principal said Ms. Wynn's actions were negligent.

"Because certification and the schedule of classes, we can work out," he said. "But when you refuse to take care of children, especially in this environment, that is negligent."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.