Teacher says she was asked to resign after expressing concerns about in-person learning

NEWTON COUNTY, G.a — A metro Atlanta teacher who spoke out about her concerns with face-to-face learning said she is now being pressured to step down from her job.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes is in Newton County outside Clements Middle School where Jammie Phillips was supposed to report in just a few weeks. In-person instruction starts on September 8, and Phillips doesn’t know if she still has a job or not.

Phillips said she’s being asked to resign over a social media post that said nothing about COVID and nothing about the school district, but she still can’t get into the building.

“I still have not received any documentation stating what policy I broke,” Phillips said.

Phillips has been an educator for nearly two decades, but this is her first year in the Newton County School District.

She was hired to be the new band director and teacher at Clements Middle School.

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But when she commented on COVID concerns with in-person learning and participated in a protest, she said everything changed.

“I was locked out of the building and all my access had been taken away related to grading, email, everything,” Phillips said. “All that was taken away the very next day I refused to resign.”

The school district won’t tell Fernandes why they asked Phillips to resign because they don’t have to comment on personnel matters. But Phillips said officials started digging into her person Facebook page and said that unrelated comments to the school that she made two weeks ago are inappropriate.

“The way that they could impede my first amendment rights as a citizen to free speech is if I was speaking about children, or I was speaking about work or I was saying I don’t like a particular group,” Phillips said. “I was simply clowning with some friends about college and my sorority.”

Phillips said she doesn’t use her real name on her Facebook page. It does say she’s a teacher. And she’s new in Newton County, so students haven’t seen her yet.

“I spoke about the flavor of the moment. I was a little colorful, but it was nothing related to children and it wasn’t hate speech,” Phillips said. “There was nothing included that shows I wouldn’t be able to educate children properly.”

Phillips said she has no idea what to do now or if she’ll be teaching at the school in a few weeks.