A former Floyd County School District employee filed suit Monday against the school system, arguing that her former employer failed to pay her over $10,000 in wages and refused to let her file for workers compensation after a student attacked her, court records state.
MaeDell Clark, a former bus monitor, argues in her lawsuit that the school district violated the Georgia Whistleblower Act. It retaliated against Clark after she complained about a loss of wages, terminating her employment last year during a meeting she tape recorded.
It also wouldn’t allow her to apply for workers compensation after a student with behavioral disorders attacked her, leaving bruises and a broken hand, the suit claims.
Clark has asked for $15,000 in damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.
“It is absolutely egregious to mistreat Miss MaeDell like this and fire her after she complains she’s being cheated out of her fair wages,” said Julie Oinonen, her attorney. “We urge the Board of Education to ensure that we protect all our educators, including good people like Miss MaeDell, who dedicated 15 years to our schools.”
School board chairman George Bevels said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit. He declined comment.
A bus monitor for the past 10 years, Clark makes two complaints in her lawsuit:
The first is about the student with emotional and behavioral disorders who attacked her. The student should have had a paraprofessional with him, though Clark by herself had to monitor all the students on a special-needs bus.
The student attacked Clark at some point, and her supervisor wouldn’t let her file paperwork for workers compensation.
“Plaintiff complained of being told she could not file workers compensation as she was lawfully entitled to,” the suit states. “Eventually Defendant permitted Plaintiff to keep on wearing her cast in spite of telling her she could not file workers compensation.”
Clark’s second complaint alleges the school district shortchanged her $10,867.70 in wages from 2004 to 2014.
Clark complained for years that the system failed to pay her for all the time she worked. Her supervisor then told her after several complaints that she’d get paid from the time she stepped onto a bus until the time she left, an estimated $200 extra each month.
The school system continued to short Clark, leading her to resume her complaints. Her supervisor called her into an Oct. 21 meeting after she spoke to the chief financial officer, and Clark opted to tape record the meeting for fear of retaliation.
In that meeting Clark was told she’d been shorted money.
“It was a blip in the system and they had fixed it,” the unnamed supervisor said. “But because of budget we are going to have to let you go.”
Clark states in her suit that the Georgia Whistleblower Act forbids a public employer from retaliating against an employee for disclosing a violation or failure to comply with a law, rule or regulation.
Clark’s attorney also represents former Coosa High School counselor Gilda Day. Oinonen said the two cases are linked.
Affected by the early 2013 Reduction in Force, Day filed suit against the county school system and claimed it failed to follow its policy when implementing the RIF. The case remains under appeal.
“The way it is connected is because they fired Miss MaeDell without affording her any fair hearing, they just wrongfully terminated her after she complained of being cheated out of fair wages,” Oinonen said in an email. “This is relevant because right now, the District is going before the high courts and arguing, teachers shouldn’t be afforded any fair dismissal hearings anymore, that charter systems don’t have to comply with the Fair Dismissal Act.”