Saturday, April 27, 2002

Judges uphold teacher's transfer

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — A teacher who claimed her transfer after incidents involving a student amounted to racial discrimination lost her appeal before the Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday.

        Eleanor Poignard, who is black, said the reassignment violated her contract and caused her emotional distress. She said she was defamed by the student's mother, the school principal and the Jefferson County school board.

        A three-judge panel upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court ruling in favor of the school board, the school principal and the parent.

        Ms. Poignard was a special education teacher at Western Middle School. She was transferred in 1999 after a series of incidents involving a sixth-grader with a learning disability.

        In one incident, Ms. Poignard allegedly raised her voice to the child in an argument over a math problem. Witnesses alleged that Ms. Poignard called the student “stupid” and made other demeaning comments.

        Ms. Poignard was given a written reprimand and was temporarily reassigned. She was reassigned in the next school term to Frost Middle School, where she still works. Her salary has increased since the transfer.

        The lower court determined that the school board properly investigated the incidents and acted within its authority in transferring Ms. Poignard. “We must agree with the circuit court that Ms. Poignard did not suffer an adverse employment action,” the appeals court said.

        On whether the reassignment violated her contract, the appeals court agreed that the school board gave her adequate notice of the transfer.


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