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'Broke my heart:' Williamson elementary school teachers suspended

Edmondson Elementary
Posted at 5:33 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 22:30:10-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some parents are upset after several elementary school educators were suspended for not following the state's rules.

Holly Nichols said her son loves his first-grade teacher at Edmondson Elementary School in the Williamson County Schools district.

"She went from being teacher of the year to being suspended and under investigation for incompetency and insubordination,” Nichols said. “That’s just crazy."

According to an email obtained by NewsChannel5, the central office said three first-grade teachers were suspended for deviating from the state's curriculum. They allegedly switched from Wit and Wisdom and GoMath to using Phonics. Nichols said a parent complained which prompted an investigation.

"They were doing a lot of things to supplement, and just really embracing the art of teaching, knowing that no two students learn the same way, and no two students can get the same out of strict curriculum being taught," Nichols said.

Nichols said a two-week suspension feels like a harsh punishment.

"It broke my heart," Nichols said.

The Williamson County Schools spokesperson issued a statement saying in part:

"Teachers may not abandon state-approved materials and use their own materials as their primary instructional materials, but they may supplement material, as needed, to meet state standards."

"They are literally in trouble for doing their jobs, they stuck to the state’s standards which is actually what the children are tested on for their report cards, they always taught state standards, they just pulled in other curriculum's," Nichols said.

She believed her son's teacher was trying to go the extra mile to help.

"Things from read-ins, to having themed weeks, to her noticing that my child loved dinosaurs and picking dinosaur books to read that still teach them the foundational skills that they need," Nichols said.

This is not how Nichols wanted the school year to end.

"Sadly we’re in a day and age where so much can be politicized, but this truly should not be one of those things,” Nichols said. “This isn’t if you’re on the right or the left of a curriculum issue, it is truly just our teachers getting run through the mud and not being respected or treated the way they deserved to be treated."

Nichols said a school administrator was also suspended. An email from the assistant superintendent to parents called the teachers and administrators 'errant in their decisions.'