Parents express concerns to Washington Co. school leaders after teacher reinstated

WASHINGTON COUNTY TN (WJHL)  – A Tri-Cities director of schools said she is still getting complaints from parents after the board of education decided to reinstate a teacher they fired last year.

The teacher at Gray Elementary School was fired in November 2016 after students complained about allegations of physical contact.

Thursday night Jennifer Collins was reinstated after a second vote by the board.

The issue over her dismissal resurfaced when board member Mary Beth Dellinger made a motion to bring the teacher back on board this fall.

Washington Co. BOE member Mary Beth Dellinger

“I would like to see her reinstated for the 2017-2018 school year,” Dellinger said.

Dellinger’s motion would lead to the board voting 5-4 to reinstate Jennifer Collins.

Monday morning we reached out to board members through e-mail and over the phone to ask them about this decision.

Mary Beth Dellinger hung up when we tried to ask her about the vote.

In total, out of nine board members we were able to interview two.

We spoke with Philip McLain, who originally wanted Jennifer Collins fired back in November, but told us he voted differently the second time around.

“I felt like that the teacher had more than paid her dues, she lost a whole year of salary, I felt like a complete dismissal was above and beyond what needed to happen,” McLain said.

Board Chair Jack Leonard said he didn’t agree with McLain’s vote to reinstate Collins, but said this isn’t the first time they’ve been faced with a tough decision.

“You know we have to honor what the board decided, we just need to move on and move forward, and I stated that at the end of the meeting,” Leonard said.

Now because of that decision, Washington County director of schools Kimber Halliburton said they’ve had several parents reach out to them with concerns.

“We have had parents call in and express concern, parents have stopped me out in the community and expressed concern,” Halliburton said.

Halliburton said it will be up to her to decide where to place Collins in the school system when she is reinstated this fall, and that she has the next few months to make that decision.

“The concern of parents will be my number one factor in making the decision as to where she is placed,” Halliburton said.

Click here to find hundreds of pages of documents, including a judge’s findings, about Washington County tenured teacher Jennifer Collins (.pdf).   


If you are reading this on a mobile device, click here to find the documents. 




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s