Four former Baldwin County Board of Education employees, three of which are now working for Gulf Shores City Schools, are suing the county claiming they were denied positions with their former employer.
The county maintains their employment became the responsibility of Gulf Shores on the date of separation. Gulf Shores was not named as a defendant in the suit.
Three of the four, teachers Michelle McCann of Gulf Shores and Amy McKenzie of Pace, Florida, and custodian Nikki Nichelson of Seminole are employed by Gulf Shores, according to personnel records. Charann Dumelow of Daphne was hired by Gulf Shores but chose to resign instead.
“On June 5, 2019, Theron Stokes, director of the Alabama Education Association, inquired regarding the tenure status and placement of Nikki Nichelson,” the suit says. “Stokes was, again, informed that Baldwin Board again reiterated their position requiring ‘a recommendation from a principal or supervisor to place [an employee] into an open position as a transfer’ and asserting that City Board had ‘assumed responsibility’ for Baldwin Board tenured employees assigned to Gulf Shores schools as of June 1, 2019, who were not otherwise transferred.”
The four plaintiffs argue as tenured employees, they should have been given positions in the county system but were illegally denied. Dumelow had been employed with the county system for 16 years, McCann 13 years, McKenzie and Nichelson for five years each.
They are represented by attorney Mary Pilcher, who says in her filing that the county did not follow the Students First Act regarding tenured employees.
“Baldwin Board failed and/or refused to notify plaintiffs of a notice of proposed termination and/or to provide a hearing regarding the termination and/or an opportunity to be heard as required by the Students First Act of 2011,” Pilcher’s complaint says.
Defendants in the suit are Superintendent Eddie Tyler and the entire Baldwin County School Board including Michael Johnson, Andrea Lindsey, Tony Myric, JaNay Dawson, Norma Lynch, Cecil Christenberry and Shannon Cauley.
The suit claims not only did the board fail to follow state law in handling their terminations, it also failed to follow rules for transfers laid out in the separation agreement with Gulf Shores.
“Following transfers and attrition, should there remain a surplus of personnel as of May 1, 2019, as provided for under the state funding formula, the parties agree they will work in good faith to resolve any surplus by distributing personnel in a mutually agreed upon and equitable manner no later than June 1, 2019,” the agreement states. All four were terminated by Baldwin County on that date.
Additionally, the suit goes on to say that not only were they not offered jobs, the county board illegally hired new employees for positions the terminated workers were qualified for. The plaintiffs are seeking back pay for the time they feel they should have been employed by the county as well as payment of their attorney fees.
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