Dispute arises after former DPS teacher says she wasn't told she no longer had a job

Dispute arises after former DPS teacher says she wasn't told she was no longer had a job (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - A former special education teacher speaking out against Dayton Public Schools after she says she was named in a state audit owing the district thousands of dollars.

District Treasurer Hiwot Abraha told Fox 45 last week that four former employees were overpaid because of a communication breakdown between supervisors, payroll, and the HR department.

Christine Morris said that communication issue also included never telling her she no longer had a job, after they sent her a new employment contract.

"Their mistake is my fault in their eyes," Morris told Fox 45's Kelly May, "That's what they feel. That I should pay them back for their mistake."

Morris is working on her PhD in special education, and says she used to be an intervention specialist at Dunbar High School, hired in 2015.

She says the problems that lead to the audit issue, started when a student assaulted her with a desk in late 2016.

"It caused permanent injuries to my left side, where my left side doesn't have strength anymore," Morris said.

She said she sought medical attention and therapy, and when she came back to work after medical leave, was almost assaulted in the classroom again so she called police.

"The principal got upset that I wouldn't sign a write up for calling the police," Morris said, adding the principal said the write-up was for not following protocol.

The following Monday, Morris said she was terminated.

In the letter she received, which she showed to Fox 45, Dayton Public schools claimed Morris did not have a certain certification, which Morris said she did not have when she was hired, and that she was working on obtaining within three years of her hire date, as allowed by the State of Ohio.

Morris said she went to her union, who she says got her the opportunity to resign to the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, instead of being fired.

"I took the resignation and I addressed the board on February 21st (2017) and after that day I received a letter in the mail saying that my resignation was not approved by the board," Morris said, "And they continued to pay me."

"So you took that as?" May asked.

"As I still have a job," Morris replied.

Then in April 2017, Morris said DPS sent her a new employment for the current (2017-2018) school year, which she signed and returned.

"I expected to come back to work in the fall and I assumed that this payment they were still giving me was for my contract," Morris said, meaning the contract she was still serving out for the 2016-2017 school year.

She says she received payment until May, when she says the district started taking money out of her account, so she called the district treasurer's office for answers.

"I called the treasurers department and they said well you weren't supposed to be getting paid anyway and hung up," Morris said.

Finally, on February 28, 2018, Morris said she got a letter from the Ohio state auditor, seeking legal action and repayment for the supposed overpayment by DPS.

Morris said it's the first time she was ever told her resignation, was accepted.

"So here's the letter saying that my resignation was not accepted by the board," Morris said showing the document, "And here's the letter from the auditor of the state saying it was accepted. This is the major discrepancy."

Fox 45 reached out to Dayton Public Schools about Morris' case.

A spokesperson said they are checking some HR records, but they have not officially commented.

Morris said ultimately, she just wants her job back because she loves working in Dayton Public Schools.

She said her case with the state auditor goes to court in April.

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