Former Richland teacher makes discrimination claim - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Former Richland teacher makes discrimination claim

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Discrimination allegations are swirling in a federal complaint filed by a former Richland teacher. The high school educator resigned last month after showing a R-rated film to her students.

Mary Porter had taught at Richland High School for two and a half years, but all of that came to a crashing end when she showed a movie based on a Stephen King novel, built around a lesson plan for her students.

"I knowingly admit that I have made mistakes regarding the showing of this movie, but I strongly believe the punishment does not fit the crime," said Porter.

Porter said the actions taken by administrators at the Rankin County School District were unfair. Last month, Porter said she was forced to resign after showing the film "Dolan's Cadillac" to her 10th grade English class.

"[I] showed it to the first class on Thursday, and as I said before, when the first bad word came out, I went to go stop it, and I let the kids talk me into continuing," Porter said.

Porter then said she quickly realized that was a mistake, having not previewed the movie after she ordered it.

The former Richland teacher said the Rankin County School District does not have a written policy regarding movies shown in the classroom, but Richland High School has an informal policy to obtain permission before doing so.

In Porter's case, she never got permission to show the films, but they were in her lesson plans. She maintains she wasn't hiding anything, and doesn't understand why administrators took the stance they did.

"I've never received any formal write-up or reprimand in my file," Porter said.

Despite hearing about an investigation, Porter said she wasn't asked anything about her side of the issue, just given two choices: be dismissed or resign with a good recommendation.

"Rankin County has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, so to me, the district needs to practice what they preach," said Porter.

Porter said she couldn't even file a grievance because the district only allows current employees to do so. Once she had been asked to resign, she lost the privilege. However, she said she doesn't want her job back. 

Porter said she wants others to know about what the school district did because she says it could happen to them.

"They have no system of checks and balances, and I feel like there needs to be one," said Porter. "Future teachers need a level playing field where they are protected from a situation such as mine."

The Rankin County School District released a statement in response to Porter's federal filing to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which states the district "does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, age, handicap, national origin or veteran status."

Porter would not elaborate on how she felt she was discriminated against by the district, saying she's been advised against it by her attorneys.

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