Education

Hearing set for Texas teacher who sent tweets about immigrant students to Trump

Fort Worth teacher put on administrative leave after tweeting at Trump

Teacher is placed on leave after asking President Trump for help reporting undocumented immigrants in schools.
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Teacher is placed on leave after asking President Trump for help reporting undocumented immigrants in schools.

A hearing has been set in the appeal case of Georgia N. Clark, the Carter-Riverside teacher whose Twitter posts against immigrant students sparked a backlash and prompted the Fort Worth school board to recommend that she be fired.

In June, the Fort Worth school board voted 8-0 in favor of Georgia Clark’s “proposed termination.” Trustee T.S. Sims was not present for the vote. Superintendent Kent P. Scribner recommended that Clark be terminated based on her use of racially insensitive language and her abuse of social media.

Clark’s attorney, Brandon Y. Brim, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram via email last month that Clark “intends to request a hearing for the purpose of contesting the proposed action against her contract.”

The hearing has been set for Aug. 5-7 at the Fort Worth school district’s board conference room, according to district.

Brim did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday morning.

Clint Bond, district spokesman, said Clark had not requested that the hearing be held in public as of Tuesday morning. The district didn’t have any further comment.

Clark, an English teacher, was placed on administrative leave after the district was alerted about Twitter posts that she directed to President Donald Trump. A Twitter account using her name circulated a series of tweets that asked Trump to crack down on immigration at Carter-Riverside High School.

One tweet listed her phone numbers and asked Trump to help remove “illegals from Fort Worth.”

Clark told a district investigator she thought the messages were private.

The case drew national attention to Fort Worth.

Past inappropriate behavior

School records detail cases of inappropriate behavior and language that came under review while Clark taught at Leonard Middle School and Western Hills High School.

Clark was suspended without pay and reassigned in 2013 after referring to students at Western Hills High School as “Little Mexico” and “white bread.”

During the 2013-14 school year, Clark worked at Western Hills High School as a reading teacher, but was recommended for termination by a review committee after she was accused of using racist language toward students.

Last month, the school board determined that Clark’s conduct on social media and the public reaction to her conduct compromised her ability to teach.

“Once the tweets came to light, so, too, did other allegations, and it was my professional judgment that it was in the best interest of the district,” Superintendent Kent Scribner told reporters after the vote in June.

The board was required to vote on the issue because Clark is a contract employee who has protections under Texas laws. The termination moved Clark’s case into an appeal phase with the Texas Education Agency.

Under this process, the education commissioner can appoint a hearing officer who listens to both sides of the issue. The Fort Worth school board would have to vote again on the matter based on the recommendation of the hearing officer.

Clark remains an employee of the district through the appeal. At the time she was placed on leave, she was earning $82,037.57 as a high school teacher.

A long education career

Records show that Clark began working for the district in the late 1990s under the name Georgia N. Zurline. Her personnel file includes a lengthy work history, stretching from schools in Oklahoma and East Texas to Fort Worth.

Clark’s interests were recorded in her file, including drama, public speaking contests and porcelain doll reproduction. Her file includes letters of recommendation from principals, counselors and co-workers who said in the late 1990s that she was organized and a good teacher who works to help students.

Clark’s records show she is certified to teach in four areas, including English, speech and drama in grades six through 12. Those certificates don’t have an expiration date as they are listed as being for life.

Staff Writer Anna M. Tinsley contributed to this report.
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