SCS teachers union backs teacher/coach reinstated after grade-changing scandal; promises appeal for back pay

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A former Shelby County Schools football coach once fired in connection to a grade changing scandal will get his job back.

A judge ordered Teli White can return to the classroom more than two years after losing his job. The judge order White be reinstated as a teacher, but did not order White get back pay.

It’s a decision the teachers union doesn’t like.

“We believe that Teli should be made whole by paying him his back salary,” said Keith Williams with the SCS Education Association.

Williams heads up the district’s teachers union, and says if White doesn’t get the $160,000 in back pay, they will appeal the judge’s ruling. 

“He has been put through purgatory with this, so he is looking for some redemption – and so are we,” said Williams.

While working at Trezevant High, White was first suspended in 2016 for his part in a grade changing scandal. He was reinstated, but a year later he was fired for the same offense after SCS hired an independent firm to do a district-wide investigation into grade changing.

That back and forth is why the judge ruled in his favor.

“He was punished. He was off work because they were doing an investigation. When they completed their investigation, they returned him to work, then they called and fired him for the same offense – which is double jeopardy,” said Williams.

Williams says the investigation did not prove White did anything wrong, but found grade changing did occur at Trezevant and other schools in the district.

Williams says White is ready to return to the classroom. But as for coaching?

“That is his call but he doesn’t want to be put in a situation like this ever again, so we think he thinking of not doing so,” said Williams.

In a statement, SCS said “Shelby County Schools will be exploring all legal options regarding the Teli White ruling.”

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