SYLVESTER, Ga. (WALB) - Less than a day before the start of the new school year for Worth County, a lawsuit against the school district and superintendent came to light.
The teacher who filed the lawsuit spoke exclusively to WALB′s Bobby Poitevint about his claims.
The 26 page lawsuit was filed by John Tibbetts, a former Worth County High School economics teacher, who was named Georgia’s Teacher of the Year last year.
***Below is a copy of the lawsuit filed. Some information has been redacted to protect the privacy of those involved.***
Tibbetts filed the suit against Superintendent Bill Settle, Board of Education members, and the school district on July 24.
One of his claims revolves around his 2019-2020 contract renewal with the school system.
“I believe I have submitted a valid contract and for whatever reason, the school system doesn’t seem to want to accept the contract that I submitted or the one that I attempted to submit despite the date clearly showing that it was submitted in time,” said Tibbetts.
Tibbetts said he signed it electronically and submitted it by the date required by Georgia law. He claims the school district said they never received it.
“I resubmitted my contract on the advice of my attorney on the 29 of May, which is two days prior to the deadline that I would have to submit a letter of resignation had I had the intent to resign from the school system,” Tibbetts explained.
Tibbetts said he had no intention of resigning. He also claims this is the first year that staff had to sign contracts electronically.
Tibbetts said he believes a glitch in the new system could be the reason why the superintendent never received the contract. However, after the contact was timestamped and submitted twice, he believes he did enough to prove he wanted to continue teaching at the school.
Another allegation in Tibbetts’ lawsuit is he claims that Settle told staffers he would "consider it insubordination” if faculty or staff spoke to board members.
The former economics teacher wants to return to the high school.
Along with wanting his job back, Tibbetts also listed other demands in his lawsuit. One of which is requesting back-wages. Another on is awarding reasonable attorney fees, court costs and expenses.
Tibbetts said he wants to be back working with his fellow teachers and students.
“There are some great teachers at Worth County and I feel privileged to work with them and would want to work with them again. The second reason is all about students and it’s all about trying to make a difference in students’ lives. And I feel like I’m able to do that and I have a connection with the students at Worth County,” said Tibbetts.
Tibbetts said now that the lawsuit is filed, the next steps are “so as I understand it, we now wait for the school system to answer the complaint and then we go from there.”
Tibbetts’ attorney said that after filing, it takes a few days before anyone is served paperwork.
WALB spoke to a staff member in Tommy Coleman’s office, the school district’s attorney, on Wednesday afternoon. We are told Coleman now has the documents and will speak to us about the lawsuit on Thursday.
Superintendent Bill Settle has deferred comments to Coleman.
We have also emailed board members but have yet to hear back.