For Immediate Release:
Court Finds MNPS Support Employees Entitled to Appeals
“School Board must do its job and hear employee appeals,” Union says
NASHVILLE, TN – Tanya Aina-Labinjo of Antioch has won a major victory in a lawsuit she filed in April against Dr. Jesse Register and the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, seeking the right to appeal her termination to the Board of Education.
Ms. Aina-Labinjo, who worked as a cashier in the cafeteria at Cane Ridge High School, was terminated by the district in mid-February. After her termination, she submitted a request for an appeal hearing to Board of Public Education chairwoman Gracie Porter. An attorney for Metro responded, saying that an appeal hearing was not warranted. According to the lawsuit filed by Ms. Aina-Labinjo, however, the Metro Charter gives terminated employees an absolute right to appeal to the Board of Public Education.
At a hearing on May 7, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle made the decision to grant a peremptory writ of mandamus compelling the Board of Public Education to hear Ms. Aina-Labinjo’s appeal. Chancellor Lyle found that the provisions of the Metro Charter clearly provided for an appeal, despite recent changes to state law. In addition, Chancellor Lyle found that public policy favors an administrative appeal to the Board of Public Education. A signed order is expected soon.
“We are very pleased to have achieved this result for Ms. Aina-Labinjo and to confirm the right of non-teaching employees to appeal to the school board. The fact that the court was willing to issue a writ of mandamus, which is extraordinary relief, demonstrates the strength and validity of Ms. Aina-Labinjo’s lawsuit,” said Dewey Branstetter, Ms. Aina-Labinjo’s attorney. Mr. Branstetter has extensive experience dealing with the Metro Charter and was a former member of the Metro Board of Public Education himself. He adds, “When someone’s livelihood is at stake, an appeal helps ensure that they are treated fairly. That was the intent of the Metro Charter, and that is what the court found.”
“Tanya deserves to be heard by the Board,” says Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205. SEIU represents support employees in the Metro Schools and supports Ms. Aina-Labinjo in her suit against the district. “We never understood why the Board thought it could avoid this responsibility. We are pleased that the court agreed that it is the duty of the Board to hear her appeal.”