Law & Courts

Wyo. District Sues Teacher Who Quit After Signing On

By Rhea R. Borja — June 05, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In an effort to try to hang on to its teachers, the school district in Green River, Wyo., has filed a lawsuit against a teacher who resigned before she ever started her job.

The 2,700-student Sweetwater County School District No. 2 sued Angela Banks, alleging breach of contract, on April 3. The district is seeking $5,571.47 in damages, plus court fees, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Banks, who had taught for a year at the district’s middle school, had accepted a position as a secondary school home economics teacher and signed a contract on May 31 of last year. But in August, she applied for a position with neighboring Sweetwater County School District No. 1 and resigned from the first district, according to court documents.

The district board of trustees refused her resignation, however, arguing that since she missed a May 15 deadline to notify the district that she wanted to leave, Ms. Banks had to stay, said Dennis Golden, the board’s chairman.

“Getting someone to fill a spot is tough, so we’ve had to stop the floodgates,” he said of the district’s decision to sue. “Even if she’d tendered her resignation in June, we’d have said, ‘OK, good luck.’ But when you wait until August, we think, ‘Do you hate us?’”

The district’s school year began Aug. 29.

Hard to Compete

Like many school systems across the country, Mr. Golden’s district is struggling to hire and keep teachers. Its rural nature and shrinking population have proved to be a disadvantage, school officials say, making it hard to compete with higher-paying cities such as Denver and Salt Lake City

At least nine of the district’s 245 teachers have left since 2000, Mr. Golden said, and several more plan to leave.

Kathryn Valido, who represents Wyoming on the National Education Association’s board of directors, said it was “extremely rare” for a district to take such a drastic measure as suing a teacher for breach of contract. But she’s not surprised.

“There’s a sense of frustration school districts have with this [teacher shortage],” Ms. Valido said. “Perhaps this is severe enough for teachers to give second thoughts on leaving.”

Ms. Banks now teaches 1st grade in the Sweetwater No. 1 district. She denies that she breached her contract and disputes the amount of damages her former employer seeks, according to court documents. That amount covers advertising, personnel, and other costs incurred to fill her position.

The teacher had no ill will toward the Sweetwater No. 2 district, said Chad Banks, her husband. She left to teach in the area in which she’s certified—elementary education—and so she could stay closer to home. With a 31/2-year-old daughter and another child on the way, Ms. Banks didn’t want to commute 30 miles each day to Green River, he said.

“This situation has been horrendous,” Mr. Banks said. “Green River is trying to set an example with this.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 05, 2002 edition of Education Week as Wyo. District Sues Teacher Who Quit After Signing On

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Two Appeals Courts Won’t Block Injunctions Against Biden's Title IX Rule
As the Aug. 1 date approaches for the broad new regulation to take effect, courts have blocked it in much of the country.
4 min read
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Two federal appeals courts have denied requests by the Biden administration to put aside injunctions blocking a new Title IX regulation that includes protections for transgender students.
John Hanna/AP
Law & Courts Letter to the Editor Religion in the Classroom May Be Legal, But Is It Just?
A teacher responds to Louisiana's Ten Commandments law.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Law & Courts Posting Ten Commandments in Schools Was Struck Down in 1980. Could That Change?
In 1980, the justices invalidated a Kentucky law, similar to the new Louisiana measure, requiring classroom displays of the Decalogue.
13 min read
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, the latest move from a GOP-dominated Legislature pushing a conservative agenda under a new governor.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. One of those new laws requires that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, but the law is similar to one from Kentucky that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 1980.
Brad Bowie/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP
Law & Courts Biden's Title IX Rule Is Now Blocked in 14 States
A judge in Kansas issued the third injunction against the Biden administration's rule granting protections to LGBTQ+ students.
4 min read
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas, and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
John Hanna/AP