Secretary files suit against Metro Nashville schools

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:03am

A veteran secretary with Metro Nashville Public Schools filed suit Monday in Chancery Court claiming she was passed over for a job given to a younger, less qualified candidate.

It just so happens that that younger, less qualified candidate was the daughter-in-law of the school system’s Director of Plant Operations and Maintenance Services, according to the suit filed by Service Employees International Union, Local 205.

Betty Russell, a 29-year employee with Metro Schools, was one of two candidates that interviewed for the position of senior secretary at Middle College High School, according to the complaint. The other candidate, who was ultimately hired, had three years experience at the time of the interviews in late 2008. She quit after only two months on the job.

Russell claims she followed the grievance process outlined in Metro Schools Support Staff Handbook, but the director of schools ignored the recommendations of an outside review.

The outside review found the position was filled “based on favoritism and/or other considerations” and that Russell was “overwhelmingly more qualified in regard to seniority, training and experience,” the suit says.

The suit claims the director of schools and the Board of Education failed to follow the recommendations of outside review which included placing Russell in a comparable position.

“After receiving instructions from the administrative law judge to compensate Ms. Russell or find her a comparable position, Director of Schools Jesse Register decided not to comply with the instructions he was given,” said Michelle Owens, an attorney for SEIU who filed the lawsuit.

“Also, the Metro School Board has stood silent and not exercised their role to make sure that the Director acts upon the recommendations of a court officer who they themselves hired.”

The suit requests a judicial review of the process. Once the union’s petition for review is filed, all evidence, testimony, and records in the case will be brought before the Chancellor for review.

“What we have here are favoritism, nepotism, and, maybe even age discrimination,” said Doug Collier, president of SEIU Local 205 — a labor union that represents MNPS employees. “It is [the school board’s] responsibility to make sure that hiring policies are followed by all staff and to properly oversee the Director of Schools and they haven’t done either.”

Although it has not seen the complaint, Metro Nashville Public Schools spokesperson Olivia Brown said the administration believes it has responded “appropriately and in good faith throughout this process.”

“Metro Schools, including the Board and administration, values our employees and their contributions to our students.” Brown said. “We follow the negotiated agreements for our support and certificated staff and always seek to resolve issues in a manner that is agreeable to all parties.”

13 Comments on this post:

By: michael thomas on 12/15/09 at 6:40

This has been going on for a long time even before Dr. Register started. If you look into the head officials of mnps you will find plenty more of favortism in all departments. Until someone actually stands up and show the media what is really going on things like this will always continue. The union itself is also with it's own faults. They really take care of their friends and family as well. They basically hand pick who they want in certain places for their representatives. In the seiu union there is plenty of people of color in the union with not enough representation for their pears to help them thru crisis. It is time for the media to serve up notice of concerns dealing with people that think they can make or break their own rules. WAKE UP!

By: thefinalsay on 12/15/09 at 7:20

This is just the most recent in a very long line of inappropriate hires and promotions in Metro. Is there any wonder this is a miserably failing district? There are so called professionals in positions of leadership and authority that cannot put a coherent sentence together. MNPS and its leadership is an embarrassment to the city. Ralph Thompson is a perfect example. There dozens and dozens just like him in Bransford and in many of the schools. The disappointing thing is that Jesse Register has left them in place. This article helps to understand why. He's got his own agenda and cant be bothered with trivial matters like removing the ineffective majority in the district.

By: dogmrb on 12/15/09 at 8:24

Michael Thomas, I agree totally with your sentiment except I think they need representation by their peers, not their pears or their apples. Dr. Register is a career public school bureaucrat so he knows how to play the game and, yes, the whole school system is full of nepotism and whatever you call "churchism".

By: frank brown on 12/15/09 at 10:10

If this city and it's residents could increase the number of lawsuits filed by 350 per day this would be an excellent stimulus to employment rolling again. I think it would also help to get housing prices down on existing homes. People and companies with real assets would be moving out as fast as possible. I think housing costs would get down to around 50.00 per square foot.

By: dogmrb on 12/15/09 at 11:47

Of course, if women, old people, minorities and children would just stay in their place and do low-paying jobs, it would help the economy too.

By: real_frank_brown on 12/15/09 at 12:32

thanks for making my name look silly yet again "frank brown."
And please, I dont need to hear any excuses or explanations. Just give me your real name so I can post with it.

By: dogmrb on 12/15/09 at 1:08

r_f_b: should have known it wasn't you. You would never have written the contraction it's when you meant the possessive pronoun its.

By: frank brown on 12/15/09 at 2:12

REAL! I am so glad to hear from you. I am surprised that you had to wait for dogmrb to correctly point out that I misused the contraction "it's instead of the possessive pronoun its. This is unlike your reputation. I know you think that people confuse FRANK BROWN with the REAL FRANK BROWN. Trust me there is not one single person who for one nanode second mistakes any post that I make for anything that you would utter or put to type.

Your reputation as a martyred educator is still unblemished.

By: thefinalsay on 12/15/09 at 3:04

To the unreal "frank brown"'

wow...what an a**hole. And you confused nanode and nano, so not only are you a jerk, you are not overly intelligent.

Sorry that the real Frank is dealing with someone so obviously struggling with petty inferiority issues.

By: frank brown on 12/15/09 at 3:54

FINAL SAY"""""I am aware that you are the REAL FRANK BROWN posting to give yourself another pat on the back for losing your "situation" with Metro. I can assure you that I made no mistake in nanode. I intended to write nanode. In the world that I live in nanode is a slang for less than nano. I am always kind to you because of your "situation". I will continue policy until such time as you are "healed"

By: thefinalsay on 12/16/09 at 6:58

I can assure you that I am not Frank Brown, just as we can all be assured you are not either. I have worked with Frank before and have great respect for him and I am tired of seeing you use his name. I have read your posts and have seen several of his responses to you. You are ignorant in many of your postings and a complete jerk for continuing to post with his name when you know it is causing an issue for him. Do like he asked in his post to you. Give your name so someone else can post with it. You won't because you are a coward. They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, unfortunately you are a very poor imitation of the real thing.

Slang or not, you misused nanode.

By: real_frank_brown on 12/16/09 at 8:27

Folks, you are both causing me unwanted attention. Please stop. I only post when the person using my name makes a statement that is clearly not something I believe or stand for and do not want others thinking that his post is my post.
To the poster using frank brown; I have not been martyred and do not want to be portrayed as a martyr. I do find your most recent post to me somewhat insulting, but really could care less. And in your message to thefinalsay, I have nothing to heal over.
To thefinalsay; I appreciate your attempt at help, but it is unnecessary.

By: A_Frank_Brown on 1/15/10 at 7:24

martyred educator: not me
thefinalsay: real frank
frank brown: frank brown
davis johnson: martyred educator