Ex-Grove Street teacher sues VWSD after dismissal

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A former Grove Street School teacher has filed suit against the Vicksburg Warren School District, claiming breach of contract.

Celia L. Gumbs-Gray, a licensed seventh-grade teacher who had been on medical leave to recuperate from an attack by a student, filed the suit Monday after finding out in June that she was no longer employed by the district, said her attorney, Lisa Ross of Jackson.

“She didn’t know she was terminated and she didn’t receive notice and that’s the problem here,” said Ross. “She has the right to a due process hearing. (VWSD) deprived her of a right to a hearing.”

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It was unclear when Gumbs-Gray was terminated.

The suit, which names Dr. Elizabeth Duran Swinford and the school district as defendants, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi Western Division.

Swinford declined to comment Tuesday saying she was not aware of the suit and that she would speak only through the district’s attorney.

The suit claims Gumbs-Gray was not notified that her 2010-11 contract would not be renewed and that the district failed to pay her the portion of her annual salary, which was $41,515, for the remaining months of her contract after she was released from her doctor’s care on June 6. She says she was entitled to pay for two additional months, or about $3,500.

Gumbs-Gray had been under a doctor’s care and paid worker’s compensation during her leave of absence, Ross said.

The suit also claims school officials told the School and State Health Insurance Plan that Gumbs-Gray “voluntarily” ended her employment.

During the leave of absence, Gumbs-Gray had been in regular contact with her employer, Ross said.

Gumbs-Gray is seeking a contract for the 2011-12 academic year and compensation for June and July, Ross said.

Gumbs-Gray, who has been employed by the district since 2004, was on leave from August to June, Ross said.

No information on the attack was available.