Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Employee sues school system

Officials with the Washington County School System are adamantly denying claims that special education children are being mistreated at any of its schools.
An attorney for the Washington County Board of Education filed a response last week to a lawsuit filed against the school system in September by school employee Valerie Walling.
In the suit, Walling claims the school system is retaliating against her because she advocates for the welfare of disabled special education children in county schools.
Walling, a special education teacher employed by the Washington County school system, insists teachers and administrators at Grandview School are violating the rights of disabled students who go to school there.
Schools are required to adhere to the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act in order for the state to receive any federal financial assistance. Under IDEA, a state must demonstrate that it has a policy in effect that assures all children with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education.
Walling claims the Washington County School System has established and maintains a policy and practice of punishing her and retaliating against her because she insisted school officials comply with the federal regulations.
From 1998 through the end of the school year in 2007, Walling taught at Boones Creek Elementary School. In 2007, she was transferred to Grandview Elementary School where she remained through the end of last school year.
During her tenure at Grandview Elementary School, Walling claims she observed several teachers who were “openly hostile” to the federally protected rights of disabled students and they were not complying with those rights.
Walling said she reported several teachers to school administrators and her superiors for refusing to comply with the IDEA.
According to the lawsuit, in 2009, then-principal John McKinney “routinely allowed” teachers of disabled students to ignore their obligations.
McKinney reportedly placed disabled students in regular classrooms, causing them to fall behind. The lawsuit also claims McKinney allowed a teacher to “openly insult the special education students in her classroom by calling them ‘slow.’”
Walling said she was discriminated against in a multitude of ways because she was standing up for the special education students.
Earlier this year, Walling was transferred to West View School to teach mathematics and social studies. She claims she was set up to fail since she is not certified to teach mathematics.
In a response filed Nov. 15, the school system vehemently denies Walling’s claims, especially those suggesting any IDEA violations or retaliation, and is asking for the case to be dismissed.
System leaders admit Walling complained on multiple occasions about the special education program at Grandview School. However, leaders contend all of her complaints were investigated and, if necessary, remedial action was taken.
The response specifically denies any retaliatory action was taken against Walling because of her complaints.
In fact, school officials contend Walling is qualified to teach math and, according to her state teaching certificate, is “highly qualified” to do so, which would mean school officials were not setting her up to fail.
The response also explains that Grandview is an “inclusion school,” meaning special education students are included in regular classrooms but are given assistance by special education teachers based on the student’s particular needs.
According to school leaders, an attempt was made sometime in late 2010 to resolve personality conflicts between Walling and teaching staff at Grandview. However, during that meeting, Walling reportedly became so angry she threw her glasses and threatened some of the teachers.
The response further describes an incident in which Walling was written up in March of this year after her supervisor discovered she had been making “derogatory comments” about other teachers to students at the school, other faculty members and parents of special education students.
In addition, system leaders claim Walling was failing to make lesson plans, left her classroom too much and was “neglecting the children in whose care she had been entrusted.”
In August, a parent allegedly even called Walling’s supervisor to report that Walling had appeared “dazed, confused and did not know what she was doing.”
According to the response filed by the school system, West View Principal Patton Gamble then witnessed Walling teaching “inaccurate math” to students.
The response calls Walling’s performance “professionally inadequate and substandard.”
A scheduling conference regarding the case has been set for Wednesday, Dec. 7.