HOUSTON (CN) – A charter school fired three teachers “immediately” after they testified in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency, the teachers claim in Harris County Court.
Charles Solaris, Sedalia Pippins and Randy Nichols sued Victory Prep Charter School and its Superintendent Reverend Lisa Berry Dockery. According to the complaint, Victory Prep is a public charter school in Houston, managed by Management Accountability Corp., which is not a party to the complaint.
The teachers say Victory Prep hired them in October 2010 after Texas shut downBenji’s Special Education Academy, a Houston charter school for disabled students, amid allegations of mismanagement and missing state funds.
Victory Prep signed them all to 1-year contracts on Aug. 15, 2011 and fired them three days later, the teachers say.
“Plaintiffs are named parties in a federal lawsuit adverse to the Texas Education Agency, which was filed in or around October of 2010,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiffs informed Karen Stewart, principal of defendant Victory Prep Charter School, that they were scheduled to give testimony at an administrative hearing on August 17, 2011.
“Plaintiffs gave principal Stewart notice of this obligation to testify because attending the hearing would cause them to miss a day of in-service.
“Principal Stewart, upon receiving notification from each plaintiff, approved each plaintiff to be absent on the August 17, 2011 in-service day without pay.
“Immediately upon returning to work after testifying, each plaintiff was called individually into the office of principal Karen Stewart. Once inside they were greeted by Superintendent Lisa Berry Dockery who fired each of them for missing the day of in-service to testify.”
The teachers say they “were not offered an opportunity for a hearing or appeal” or given a termination letter, which they all requested.
They seek back pay and benefits for wrongful termination, interference with employment contract and due process violations.
They are represented by Z.A. Brown of Fort Washington, Md.