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Ex-Little Rock district teacher wins wrongful-termination suit tied to video filmed by suspended students

Fired man to receive $54,719 by Tess Vrbin | November 27, 2021 at 3:40 a.m.
court gavel

A former Hall High School teacher won his wrongful-termination lawsuit on Wednesday against the Little Rock School District.

Charles Parliament was put on administrative leave in May 2019 and fired a month later after the district took issue with his supervision of in-school suspension. He filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court in September 2020, seeking $69,919 in restitution, plus attorneys' fees.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered the school district to pay Parliament $54,719, according to court documents.

"The issue of attorney's fees is reserved, pending the filing of an appropriate motion," Fox wrote in his order.

Fox did not order the district to rehire Parliament, but his attorney, John Ogles of Jacksonville, said the decision will make it easier for Parliament to get another job in the district.

"Once he got fired by the Little Rock School District, no one would hire him," Ogles said.

According to the court documents, Parliament volunteered on May 16, 2019, to supervise a classroom of students serving in-school suspensions and give another teacher a 15-minute break. The other teacher did not come back for 45 minutes, but "there is no indication" whether the other teacher faced any consequences from the administration, Fox's decision states.

While Parliament was in charge of the classroom, a group of students stood up from their seats and one female student started dancing in her underwear while another student took a video and posted it on Instagram, the documents state. Hall High School does not allow the use of cellphones in classrooms.

Several students were standing together in a deliberate attempt to block Parliament's view of the inappropriate behavior, according to one student's testimony at the bench trial on Nov. 10.

Parliament did not see what was going on at first because he has a visual impairment, according to court documents, but he noticed the unusual behavior and repeatedly told the students to take their seats. He was placed on leave the same day and later "was given a non-punitive letter of caution and ordered to complete certain training classes," according to the complaint filed Sept. 30, 2020.

The district recommended the termination of Parliament's contract on June 17, 2019, even though the contract was not set to begin until Aug. 6. Fox wrote in his decision that the district's claim that Parliament breached his contract was therefore invalid.

Additionally, the date of the incident was at the end of the 2018-19 academic year, so the suspended students did not have homework and most of them had finished final exams.

"It is clear from the totality of the testimony that the students were sent to ISS for 'babysitting' and not for any kind of educational instruction," Fox wrote.

Ogles said he believed the Little Rock School District was "looking for an excuse to get rid of" Parliament for "asking too many questions of administration."

Allison Pearson Rhodes, an attorney for the district, declined to comment on Friday.

Print Headline: Former teacher at Hall wins suit against district

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