Education

Case involving teacher’s anti-immigrant tweets to go before Fort Worth school board

The Fort Worth school board will review Tuesday a recent recommendation from an independent hearing examiner to reinstate Georgia Clark, a Carter-Riverside teacher whose Twitter posts against immigrant students sparked a national backlash.

Robert C. Prather Sr., an independent examiner who issued a 76-page recommendation decision just days before the Labor Day holiday, said the board’s efforts to try to terminate Clark’s employment weren’t justified.

Clark, an English teacher, was placed on administrative leave in May after the district was alerted about Twitter posts that she directed to President Donald Trump. She told a district investigator she thought the messages were private.

In June, the Fort Worth school board voted 8-0 in favor of Clark’s “proposed termination.” Superintendent Kent P. Scribner recommended that Clark be terminated based on her use of racially insensitive language and her abuse of social media.

Jacinto Ramos Jr., school board president, said Friday he didn’t have a comment, and the district declined to speak further about the case.

Case before Fort Worth school board

Clark’s case is listed on the executive session portion of the school board meeting.

Under the Texas Education Code, once the hearing examiner prepared the recommendation, it was sent to the school board president, education commissioner and Clark. The board is required to consider the recommendation and record of the hearing examiner at “the first board meeting for which notice can be posted.”

That date falls on Tuesday. The school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s board complex, 2903 Shotts St.

During the hearing, which appears to be taking place in closed session, the board will consider Prather’s recommendation and allow each side to present an oral argument to the board.

The item is also listed under the agenda’s action items portion of the meeting — meaning the board could vote and announce a decision in the case. That action would take place in public.

The board can decide to adopt, reject or change the hearing examiner’s decision.

If the board makes a decision to reinstate Clark, it remains “to be determined” whether she would go back to her post at Carter-Riverside, according to the district.

It is also undetermined if Clark would have to interview with principals for a new position in the district if her past post is no longer open.

This termination process is governed by Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code. Educators are employed under three types of contracts — continuing, term and probationary. The rights of teachers vary by contract type, according to the Texas State Teachers Association.

“A continuing contract is as close to K-12 tenure as we have in Texas,” states information from the Texas State Teachers Association. ”A continuing contract ceases to exist only if the employee resigns, retires, or is lawfully dismissed. A teacher dismissed from a continuing contract always has the right to a fair, impartial hearing before an independent hearing examiner.”

Clark, who has a continuing teacher contract, continues to draw a check from the district. At the time she was placed on leave, she was earning $82,037.57.

Teacher under scrutiny

Clark came under the district’s scrutiny in May when a series of posts she made on Twitter drew complaints from the public.

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.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
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