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Board votes to appeal judge’s decision on fired teacher

Xavier Smith • Sep 29, 2017 at 1:36 PM

The Wilson County school board voted Thursday to appeal Wilson County Chancery Court Chancellor C.K. Smith’s decision to reduce the punishment for former Tuckers Crossroads School teacher Matthew Mock.

The Wilson County school board originally voted to terminate Mock from his position at the school in 2015 after Mock and two other school employees engaged in school-wide pranks at the end of the year.

According to a statement from Wilson County Schools, Mock and two other faculty members who were not tenured were cited for:

• placing a lotion-type substance on classroom door handles and a time clock.

• turning over chairs and desks in a classroom.

• taking vehicle keys and moving the vehicles without permission.

• taking Styrofoam packing peanuts that were school property and putting them in the car of one of the victims.

In response to his termination, Mock and his attorney, Michael Clemons, appealed the decision. Hearing officer Robert Wheeler Jr. ruled Mock should not be fired for his participation in the pranks.

However, Wheeler ruled, “Mr. Mock be suspended from his duties with the Wilson County School System without pay from the beginning of the 2015-16 school year until the end of the first semester. This decision is not to be construed to tell the school administration where Mr. Mock should teach.”

The school board then voted to uphold Wheeler’s ruling. Board member Wayne McNeese and former board member Don Weathers voted against upholding the ruling at the time. Both said the punishment was too harsh.

Parties involved in the case presented their arguments in December 2015 before the board, and Clemons said the only issue he sought to appeal on Mock’s behalf was Wheeler’s recommendation of a semester suspension without pay.

“I simply ask that the recommended discipline of one semester without pay be revised to a written reprimand, or at most, five days without pay,” Clemons said during the meeting.

Clemons and Mock took the case to Wilson County Chancery Court earlier this year.

“The chancellor came back with his decision, and he reduced that suspension from one semester to five days,” Wilson County Schools attorney Mike Jennings said.

Jennings said Smith’s decision included a stipulation that Mock would return to his terminated position, which isn’t possible because Mock resigned from the district last year.

Jennings said the first motion he would file in appellate court would be to alter or amend Smith’s ruling. 

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