Teacher Says Her Firing Was Racially Charged

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 19:37:48-04

The room inside Maury County School's Central office was just big enough for the counsel members at the table and a few members of the public.

Friday was the fifth day of a deposition hearing regarding Patricia Hawkins' future with the school district.

"It's been a long five months," said Hawkins.

Hawkins claimed her dismissal last semester was racially charged. In December of last year, she received a termination letter, and in January, the Board of Education voted in favor of her dismissal. She appealed which lead to this week's hearing.

Hawkins said the problems with school administrators began back in 2009 when she was at Joseph Brown Elementary School.

"They brought in a white female that terminated or transferred the black teachers out of there," Hawkins said.
While there she filed several complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"I can't make people do what's right, but I can certainly hold them accountable," said Hawkins. 

She said she was forced out of Joseph Brown Elementary and began working as a guidance counselor at Highland Park Elementary during the 2010-2011 school year. While there she applied to be the school's principal, and when she didn't get the job, she said school administrators began to antagonize her and add to her work load.

Attorney for Maury County Schools, Jake Wolaver, declined to make a comment. During the hearing he painted Hawkins as a woman who's played the race card before. He brought up a previous discrimination lawsuit she filed against a school district in Shoals, Alabama. That case was settled outside of court.

"In Alabama it was situation where I was told I needed more education. I went back, I got my EDS and applied for the job, and the person that got the job had only a master's degree," Hawkins explained.

Hawkins maintained she's only trying to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

"I think it's important to send a message that you can't easily fire for no reason, on bogus charges, a tenured teacher with a five evaluation and a history of good evaluations," Hawkins said.

An administrative judge suspended the case so the court reporter can provide transcripts. It could be weeks before Hawkins knows her fate with the school district.