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M-SCEA files two lawsuits focused on rights of tenured Shelby County teachers

About a dozen Shelby County School teachers stood in solidarity against the district's preferred teacher hiring list and bonus pay plan.
About a dozen Shelby County School teachers stood in solidarity against the district's preferred teacher hiring list and bonus pay plan.
Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN

A Shelby County Schools teacher who lost her job in staff reductions has filed a lawsuit intended to force the district to rehire her and all tenured teachers who were excessed this year.

Marcia Kelley is the teacher listed as a plaintiff in the new suit, along with the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.

The teachers’ association opposes the district’s new hiring practice, known as mutual consent, which means that teachers are selected by principals rather than placed by the district in a given school.

District leaders say teachers and principals tend to work better together when they select each other.

The teachers’ association disagrees with this approach. They have argued tenured teachers have a right to a position in the district and should be hired before non-tenured and new teachers.

Earlier this year, many teachers’ jobs were in limbo: The district closed 10 schools and planned for more reductions as six suburbs broke away from the system and the state-run Achievement School District took over six Memphis schools. In the spring, the district estimated that several hundred displaced and excessed teachers would be affected by the changes, but assured displaced teachers it would help them find positions within the district.

About 200 teachers were hired in late June. Tenured teachers who had not been hired by June 30 were placed on a re-employment list, but were officially no longer employed by Shelby County Schools.

District officials have said the number of teachers seeking positions has dwindled since then, but an updated number of teachers who had not found jobs within the district and of new or non-tenured teachers who have been hired was not available Thursday evening.

During the school closures and staff reductions, Shelby County School officials held numerous job fairs to help displaced teachers find jobs.

One teacher described the job fairs as “disappointing,” saying that displaced teachers have had to “chase down principals.”

This is the second lawsuit in three months filed by the association against the district. The first was filed on behalf of tenured teachers who were displaced due to school closures.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at and (901) 730-4013.

Follow us on Twitter: @TajuanaCheshier, @chalkbeattn.

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