A former Jackson Public School District executive filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in U.S. District Court against her former employer last Friday. She alleges she was fired because it was thought that she leaked the plans to hire Reverend Jeffery Stallworth as a JPS Ombudsman to the news media. She also seeks an injunction against the district to prevent her termination as she claims only the school board has the right to fire her. Ms. Dorsey was the Executive Director of Human Resources at the district.
Dr. Gray renewed her contract on May 20 for the 2015-2016 school year at a salary of $92,900. He terminated her nine days later allegedly in front of Deputy Superintendent Lorene Essex, Joanne Shepherd (JPS attorney), and Gerald Jones (Chief of Security. Uh-oh.). He gave her a letter that stated he "lost confidence" in her as a member of his team:
The complaint claims that Dr. Gray told Mr. Jones to escort her from the premises after she got her personal belongings. The complaint than turns its attention to Reverend Stallworth. Ms. Dorsey alleges that Ms. Shephard "was intimately involved in efforts to bring Stallworth to JPSD to work as an ombudsman, a position that had been vacant for approximately 20 years." Ms. Dorsey claims that Shepard told her to post the job notice for only three days but 38 people applied for the position. Ms. Shephard allegedly sent her an email a week later recommending she hire Stallworth at an annual salary of $55,000. She also alleges that Dr. Gray signed the recommendation form in the email.
WLBT reported on May 27 that the district was going to hire Reverend Stallworth as an ombudsman. Ms. Dorsey accuses Ms. Shepard and Dr. Gray of hatching
a plan to cover-up Dr. Cedrick Gray's plan to recommend Stallworth for the position. Upon information and belief, on May 28, 2015, Joanne Shephard attempted to delete from the NOVUS system Dr. Cedrick Gray's recommendation of Stallworth, which she had instructed Carol Dorsey to add on May 27, 2015.
Ms. Dorsey claims Dr. Gray and his staff never asked her if she spoke to the media nor did he question the media to learn how they learned about Stallworth's supposed hiring (as if the media would reveal the source.). Mrs. Dorsey seeks damages, reinstatement (as she was illegally fired), and punitive damages. She also asks the court to declare that only the school board has the right to terminate her employment at JPS.