School district responds to teacher lawsuits

Published 12:02 am Friday, June 19, 2015

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District has filed responses to lawsuits filed in circuit court by former administrators who left their jobs in the district after they were to be demoted in response to school accountability practice tests.

The second lawsuit, by Regina McCoy, was filed the same date as Shannon Doughty’s lawsuit against the district, April 20. Both were assistant principals at Natchez High School during the 2013-2014 school year.

Doughty and McCoy separately contend they were told they would be renewed as assistant principals based on the results of school accountability tests.

Email newsletter signup

Both were recommended by then-principal Fred Butcher to continue as assistant principals, but the lawsuits allege they were later told they would not be rehired as administrators based on a prediction of a failing grade for NHS. When test scores were released later that year, NHS had improved.

McCoy and Doughty were both offered teaching positions in the district prior to the release of test scores.

McCoy left the district and found a job as a principal in Wilkinson County, while Doughty found a teaching position in the Gulfport school system.

The school district’s response, filed last week, contends the plaintiffs did not meet the requirements of the state’s education employment procedures laws before filing their complaints, nor did they exhaust available administrative remedies within the district.

The district likewise argues it has “not violated any contractual or other legal duty owed to plaintiff(s), but not limited to breach of contract.”

The district also contended that any claims to lost wages or chances for promotion because of leaving the district should not be admitted because the plaintiffs, “caused or contributed to the damages claimed” and the plaintiffs “have failed to mitigate (their) damages, if any.”

McCoy and Doughty are both represented by Adcock & Morrison of Ridgeland, the firm that also represents Cindy Idom, who filed a federal lawsuit against the district in 2014 following her 2013 removal from an administrative position.

Attorney William Ivison with Adcock & Morrison said in an email that now that the defendants have responded, the case would move into the discovery process.

Once the discovery process is under way, the plaintiffs will be able to elaborate further on what they might do moving forward, he said.

During discovery, both sides examine the evidence the other side has to present.

Attorney J. Tucker Mitchell of Mitchell Day Law Firm submitted the arguments on behalf of the district.

Mitchell did not return a phone message seeking comment.