Texas Teacher Wins Lawsuit on Wrongful Termination

September 12, 2008 1 min read

A Texas education commissioner has ruled in favor of a dismissed Dallas teacher, who says she was fired because of an unfair rating based on student test scores, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Sharon Toussaint, a math teacher at low-scoring Kimball High School, was terminated when the school’s faculty was reconstituted last year. Toussaint claimed the reason she was let go was because of a low Classroom Effectiveness Index rating, a formula-based system that determines teachers’ success in the classroom. Robert Scott, a Texas Education Agency commissioner, ruled on Tuesday that the rating did not take all conditions into account and that Toussaint’s district must reinstate her with back pay or pay a settlement of one year’s salary.

Although the CEI ratings are supposed to hold teachers blameless for student variables like ethnicity, language skills, and family income when producing ratings, Scott said that it was the school environment, and not Toussaint, that caused a lack of student achievement among her students. The Texas AFT published an excerpt of Scott’s written opinion:

The reason given for proposed termination was the failure of [Toussaint] to demonstrate a pattern of academic achievement by her students. The Findings of Fact establish that the school's environment not [Toussaint] was the cause of the lack of achievement. Because [Toussaint's] actions as a teacher are not found wanting, good cause does not exist to terminate [Toussaint's] contract.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.