The saga of teacher Anne Thompson is coming to an end. She will be leaving Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in a few weeks, several months shy of her planned retirement.
If you’ve followed her saga, you know Thompson is not ending her career where she spent much of it, having been involuntarily transferred from Chapel Hill High School to Carrboro High School in time for the beginning of this school year. She fought the transfer, along with colleague Bert Wartski, all the way to the courthouse and lost.
I heard from Ms. Thompson’s attorney, Trey Tanner, since I posted this who offered the following clarification: “Ms. Thompson actually did not fight the transfer all the way to the courthouse and lose … she fought the transfer into the courhouse, had an unfavorable ruling at a preliminary stage and then dismissed her appeal, essentially withdrawing it from court before it was ever heard … in other words, it was more of a forfeit than a loss.
1. Superintendent Forcella decided to invluntarily transfer [sic] –the decision was appealed to the School Board
2. The School Board upheld the decision of the Superintendent –this decision was appealed by Petition to the Superior Court
3. A Motion to Stay the transfer was filed to keep Ms. Thompson and Mr. Wartski at CHHS while the appeal was pending … there was a hearing on this Motion but it was not a hearing on the appeal itself
4. The Motion to Stay was denied –this was not a decision on the merits of the appeal itself and the fact that the Motion was denied has no impact on the ultimate determination of the appeal
5. Ms. Thompson elected to withdraw her appeal –thus the merits of the appeal were never heard
The point of this column is not to again question the transfer, nor to again wonder why so little has been heard from the administration or the elected members of the school board, but to look at what happened to a long-serving and, by all accounts, dedicated teacher during her last year in the classroom.
Anne Thompson says she was transferred to a position that did not include a classroom. We all know schools have to be strategic in managing space so a “floating” teacher with a cart full of materials is not unusual. But to do that to a teacher with more than 2-dozen years of experience and one year from retirement seems to be at best unthinking and at worst, vengeful.
Is anyone in charge of this debacle thinking of the lesson given to the students who are watching from within two high schools, not to mention the legion of alumni who have spoken out on Thompson’s behalf? Here’s the lesson I see from the sidelines, having no child near any of those categories:
Work hard, give lots of years, be admired, speak up for yourself and you will be punished.
Is that the education our high taxes want to help provide?
During the throes of her struggle to not leave CHHS when the school board rejected her appeal and withheld any explanation due to personnel issues, Thompson wrote to me and offered to waive her right to the confidentiality in her personnel file. While I always believe there is more than one side to every story and usually more than two, in this case, we’ve all yet to hear even the second one.
Even worse, as this teacher’s career is forced to an ignominious end, we’ve all yet to hear even a “thank you.”
What do you think? At this point, can any of this be un-done? Leave your thoughts below or write to me at Donnabeth@Chapelboro.com