29 teachers resign from Nashville middle school

Nearly 30 teachers have resigned from a Nashville middle school in the last year. (Source: WSMV)
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:42 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE (WSMV/Gray News) – Nearly 30 teachers have resigned from a Nashville middle school in the last year.

Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, 29 teachers have quit their jobs at Oliver Middle School. Many cited poor leadership and communication, while some also claim the school does not follow proper safety protocols, specifically during lockdowns.

WSMV obtained statements from 13 teachers, 12 of whom have resigned. In the statements, teachers describe the school as an “environment of chaos.” Teachers detail how it is “impossible to feel safe at my place of work.”

The letters criticize the school’s handling of an incident in April where a student brought a loaded gun to campus, saying “even after the lockdown incident, safety measures at Oliver did not change.”

One teacher spoke to WSMV anonymously because she’s been transferred to another school within the Metro Nashville Public School District and said she fears retaliation. That teacher said she poured her heart into Oliver Middle School for more than a decade.

She left about a year ago, claiming things went on at the school that violated the district’s policies and cites a toxic environment created by the administration in the last few years.

“Teachers are being bullied,” the teacher said. “They are not being treated equally, and they are not being treated fairly.”

The turnover rate is alarming parents who voiced their concern at a school meeting Thursday.

“I want specifics on how you plan to regain our trust and be an effective leader knowing you have lost over half your teachers,” parent Christi Mayo said during the meeting.

The school district said most of the positions have now been filled. There are currently five vacancies. District spokesperson Sean Braisted explained the departures Thursday.

“Some are for personal reasons,” Braisted said. “Some are for promotions. Some are for other reasons.”

The district followed up and told WSMV Friday that some of the reduction in teachers is due to budget cuts as a result of enrollment losses during the pandemic. The district said Oliver Middle School is projected to see a decline of 80 students in the upcoming year as there are more students moving on to high school and fewer students coming in.

When the former teacher was asked if she would still send her own kids to Oliver today, based on the April incident with the loaded gun, she said she is hesitant.

“Knowing what I know just about that incident, their safety is on me if I send them,” the teacher said.

Teachers and parents claim turnover has far surpassed previous years. WSMV asked the school district how many resignations there were in previous school years dating back to 2017 for context, but the district has not provided those numbers.

In a statement, the district said, “We appreciate any constructive feedback from current and former employees on ways to improve the culture and climate of the school, and we encourage any staff of our schools who have concerns to bring those to the district to be investigated appropriately.”

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