The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


February 26, 2014

BOE facing two federal suits

TARBORO — Diahanna Woods and Donnie Atkinson, former employees of Edgecombe County Public Schools, filed lawsuits against the Edgecombe County Board of Education after they were terminated. Woods filed her complaint on May 30, 2013, and Atkinson filed his complaint on Aug. 28, 2013, in the federal court in Greenville.

Woods and Atkinson claim they were fired because of their failure to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), and that they had medical disabilities which prevented them from driving a school bus. They cited the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as grounds for their claims.

Board Chair Ann Kent declined to comment on the cases. Board Attorney Deborah R. Stagner also declined to comment on the cases, other than to say the board “believes that it has complied with the law and we are vigorously defending these matters.” A closed session discussion of the cases was one of the items on the board’s Feb. 17 meeting agenda.

Woods, a teacher assistant at Stocks Elementary School at the time, received a letter informing her of the elimination of her position on May 30, 2012 as part of school system's Reduction-in-Force. School system administration recommended and the board approved the Reduction-in-Force as a result of state budget cuts and a decrease in student enrollment. Combined, ECPS cut 56 positions as part of its Reduction-in-Force.

Donnie Atkinson was terminated from his job as head custodian at G.W. Carver Elementary School on June 26, 2013.

For the complete story, see today's print edition of The Daily Southerner.

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Autistic 3-year-old triplets Ja’Won, Ja’Quon and Ja’Quavion, from left to right, take a break from riding their bikes to sit together on the couch of their Tarboro home. The triplets’ mother Lisa Porter shared her story in honor of autism awareness month, which is April.

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