A Hamilton County Chancellor has ruled that the Bradley County Board of Education must reinstate former Hopewell Elementary teacher Susan Elliott.
The case was moved to Hamilton County after judges here recused themselves due to possible conflicts of interest. Elliott was represented by attorney Steve Crump’s team.
“We are very pleased with the Chancellor’s ruling and we are very happy for Susan,” Crump said.
Crump said his office received the opinion late last week and he had been unable to read it in detail.
Elliott would not be reinstated at Hopewell Elementary.
According to a letter released by McDaniel, he “and even the Chancellor agreed… returning to Hopewell Elementary would not be in neither the school system nor Ms. Elliott’s best interest.”
The Bradley County Board of Education has not determined whether it will appeal Chancellor Frank Brown’s decision.
Chair Vickie Beaty told the Cleveland Daily Banner Saturday that the issue had not been discussed by the board yet. She said she had not been able to confirm the decision with the school board’s attorney until Friday.
Beaty will discuss the matter with school board attorney Chris McCarty and Bradley County director of schools Johnny McDaniel about moving forward.
She said her personal preference would be to have a special called meeting, so the board could discuss the matter.
The final decision whether or not to appeal lies with the school board.
“It would not be my decision or Mr. McDaniel’s decision, but the board’s decision,” Beaty said.
Elliott had been dismissed in July 2012 following charges of “incompetence, neglect of duty and unprofessional conduct.” These charges followed an internal investigation conducted after assault charges were filed against her by her boyfriend at the time.
The assault charges were later dropped and the boyfriend was charged with filing a false report. Elliott’s record was expunged. However, the initial charges from the police report were still included in McDaniel’s charges for dismissal and were discussed throughout her initial hearing in 2013.
“I stand by my original belief that Ms. Elliott’s actions on and off campus warranted her dismissal, a belief that was shared by an impartial hearing officer and a majority of the Bradley County Board of Education,” McDaniel said in a press release. “I did not take my recommendation to dismiss Ms. Elliott lightly, but I would make it again to ensure our students are provided with only professional and responsible teachers.”
The final decision to uphold the dismissal came from the school board during a June 2013 meeting.
If the decision is not appealed, Elliott would be reinstated as a tenured teacher.