Former Turner Elementary School teacher Nikki Lyons confers with attorney Howard Stiller during her CRCT tribunal hearing Wednesday. The tribunal voted unanimously to uphold the Dougherty School Board’s decision to non-renew her teaching contact.
ALBANY, Ga. — A CRCT administrative tribunal on Wednesday voted 3-0 to recommend upholding the Dougherty County School System’s decision in May not to renew the teaching contract of Nikki Lyons.
Lyons was a third-grade science and social studies teacher at Turner Elementary in 2009 and was caught up in the school system’s CRCT erasure scandal when the governor’s report alleged she had prompted students during administration of the test.
The tribunal’s recommendation will be considered by the DCSS School Board, which will ultimately decide her fate.
“Naturally we are disappointed in the tribunal’s decision,” Lyons’ attorney, Howard Stiller, said. “We felt that they did not take into account that as a first-year teacher in 2008, Ms. Lyons had very little or no training at all in the administration of CRCT tests.”
Stiller added that he and his client will now wait on the School Board’s decision.
“We’ll wait and see what the School Board has to say at its next meeting,” Stiller said. “Then we will see what our next steps will be in exercising her legal rights.”
The tribunal listened to more than two hours of interviews recorded during three meetings between Lyons and special agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and according to panel Chairman Gary Walker, the tapes made an impact.
“The district provided evidence supporting each of the accusations,” Walker said. “The tapes provided even more evidence and made it very clear that all charges were supported beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
The interview tapes, recorded by GBI agents Eve Rodgers and Anita Ivy, showed Lyons acknowledged telling certain students to “go back over what you’ve done.”
Lyons added that “I can understand how that could be seen as giving them answers.”
She also admitted to “making mistakes in the administration of the CRCT test in 2009,” adding, “now that I know what I did wrong, I won’t do it again.”
School System attorney Flin Coleman also said he felt the recorded interviews were crucial in the tribunal’s recommendation to uphold the board’s decision.
“On recorded interviews, she (Lyons) acknowledged she prompted her students during the CRCT tests,” Coleman said. “The board can still accept the tribunal’s recommendation or do something else.”
In a related note, the DCSS decided to issue a contract renewal to Dougherty Principal Jose Roquemore, who was scheduled to appear before the tribunal this morning.
However, after the tribunal recommended renewing Albany High Principal Angela Schumate’s contract on Tuesday, the system attorney decided to drop the case against Roquemore.
“We basically had the same case against Roquemore that we pursued against Shumate,” Coleman said. “We were going to present that case to the same guys who recommended rejection of the Shumate non-renewal. We decided to drop the case and hand it back to the School Board.”
The Board voted 4-2 Wednesday to renew Roquemore’s contract.
The tribunal is scheduled to hear just two more CRCT cases: Adrienne Savage will appear on Monday morning, and Beverly Knighton-Harris will follow on Tuesday.