Coffee County Schools recently settled a lawsuit via mediation with a former Deerfield Elementary School teacher assistant and intervention aide. The suit settled in a nondisclosure agreement in favor of the teacher, meaning the district paid her an unknown amount of money to cover damages caused by her termination.
Due to the legal process being settled in mediation and the settlement being nondisclosure, both parties cannot comment on the legal proceedings.
Leslie Davis began working at Deerfield Elementary School in August 2010. The 55-year-old was terminated on Jan. 4, 2017, which falls in the middle of a school year.
“I feel like I was wronged by the district and it was proven in my mediation,” said Leslie Davis, the aide who was laid off in 2017.
An investigation completed by Gretchen Reese, investigator of Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) Central Office. The THCR offered mediation services in a letter sent by the THRC to Joe Pedigo, former deputy superintendent of Coffee County Schools.
“During mediation, a neutral, trained THRC mediator assists the parties with discussing the issues raised in the complaint, clearing up misunderstandings, determining the underlying interests or concerns, finding areas of agreement and, ultimately, incorporating those areas of agreement into a legally binding settlement agreement that resolves the charge of discrimination...Mediation is free, quicker than an investigation, confidential, the parties make the agreement, not the mediator or legal counsel, issues are resolved between the two parties,” according to the letter.
Davis, her legal representation which was not listed in the legal documents, school administration and legal aide, THRC and a member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered private mediation in lieu of going to court.
The case was closed by Deliner Franklin-Thomas, the director of the Memphis District office of the Commission (EEOC) on Oct. 4.
All of the following information was taken from the complaint submitted by Davis on Jan. 24, 2017. Prior to her termination, Davis had surgery on her ankle and was unable to work during her recovery – she was on medical leave for nine days and received a total two months of medical leave as per the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). She did take some medical leave without pay.
In her complaint, Davis claimed she was called into the principal’s office on Jan. 4, 2017, where she was met by Deerfield Principal Traci McCoy, vice principal Lia Parsley and vice superintendent Joe Pedigo. McCoy informed her she was being fired due to her job going in a different direction.
In her complaint, Davis allegedly asked if she was being fired due to her time off on FMLA. She was allegedly told that it was not due to her ankle surgery or medical reasons.
In her complaint, Davis claimed she asked, “‘So my job is going in a different direction?’ and [McCoy] said ‘yes.’ So I asked, ‘So you all are doing away with the position and not going to hire anyone in my place?’ [McCoy] said ‘no.’
“They lied to me. The next day, [McCoy’s] mother was subbing in my spot and my job was reposted on Coffee County’s website,” according to the complaint.
The Times cannot confirm or deny the job listing and all of the contacted school officials, including Director of Schools LaDonna McFall and McCoy, offered no comment.