29 teachers resign from Nashville middle school

Nearly 30 teachers have resigned from a Nashville middle school in the last year. (Source: WSMV)
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Several teachers have resigned from Oliver Middle School in the last year, citing poor leadership and communication. Some also claim the school does not follow proper safety protocols, specifically during lockdowns.

One teacher spoke to us anonymously because she’s been transferred to another MNPS school and said she fears retaliation by the district.

A former Oliver Middle School teacher said she poured her heart into the school for more than a decade.

“It means a lot,” the teacher said. “It is very emotional.”

She left about a year ago, claiming things went on at the school that violated MNPS policies and cites a toxic environment created by the administration in the last few years.

“Teachers are being bullied,” the teacher said. “They are not being treated equally, and they are not being treated fairly.”

MNPS said since the start of the 2021 school year, 29 teachers and staff have left OMS. The turnover rate is alarming parents who voiced their concern at a school meeting Thursday. “I want specifics on how you plan to regain our trust and be an effective leader knowing you have lost over half your teachers,” parent Christi Mayo said during the meeting.

MNPS said most of the positions have now been filled. There are currently five vacancies. District spokesperson Sean Braisted explained the departures Thursday. “Some are for personal reasons,” Braisted said. “Some are for promotions. Some are for other reasons.”

The district followed up and told us Friday that some of the reduction in teachers is due to budget cuts as a result of enrollment losses during the pandemic. The district said Oliver is projected to see a decline of 80 students in the upcoming year as there are more students moving on to high school and less students coming in.

“Our population has naturally dropped since Oliver has started to unravel,” the teacher said.

We obtained 13 teacher statements. 12 of them have resigned. In the statements, teachers describe the school as an “environment of chaos”. Teachers detail how it is “impossible to feel safe at my place of work.” The letters criticize the school’s handling of an incident in April where a student brought a loaded gun to campus, saying “even after the lockdown incident, safety measures at Oliver did not change.”

We asked the former teacher if she would still send her kids there today. “Knowing what I know just about that incident, their safety is on me if I send them,” the teacher said.

Teachers and parents claim turnover has been nowhere near this in previous years. We asked MNPS how many resignations there were in previous school years dating back to 2017 for context, but the district has not provided those numbers.

In a statement, the district said:

“We appreciate any constructive feedback from current and former employees on ways to improve the culture and climate of the school, and we encourage any staff of our schools who have concerns to bring those to the district to be investigated appropriately.”

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