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Former Boys Head Basketball Coach alleges improper dismissal by district
TRUMANN, Ark. – A lawsuit has embroiled the Trumann School District and its superintendent, Myra Graham in accusations she set out on a vengeful personal vendetta to terminate the job of former boys head basketball coach Jordan Wise.
Filed on May 24, 2018 in Poinsett County Circuit Court, Wise is represented by Attorney Scott Emerson and seeks a jury trial to get his job back as a teacher and coach at Trumann High School, along with lost wages, punitive damages, and his costs associated with the filing. The lawsuit states the coach was with Trumann since the 2015-2016 school year. It alleges the events leading up to the non-renewal of the plaintiff’s contract began the same year he was hired, calling it a “crusade” by Graham.
The supposed crusade begins in the winter of 2016, when the Trumann Resource Officer was said to have been contacted by the superintendent. During a conversation, the suit alleges Graham asked the police officer to perform a criminal background check on Wise, stating she, “did not want [Wise] employed with the school.”
“I’m called the terminator for a reason and I’ve been sued many times,” the lawsuit quotes Graham as saying, adding she went on to say she wanted to, “find anything I could on [Wise].”
When she refused to help Graham, the lawsuit claims the superintendent went on a course of action to have the officer also lose her job.
An unnamed staff member at the superintendent’s office told a reporter on Friday she had “never” heard of Graham calling herself or being called “The Terminator.”
In addition to claiming mistreatment along the way, the suit says Graham spoke to members of the Trumann School Board outside of a regularly scheduled meeting about Wise. It claims she wrongfully twisted “every word and action” by the plaintiff.
One of the specific instance Graham is alleged in the suit to have taken exception to was during a locker room conversation with the Trumann High School Boys Basketball team. Following their loss of a close game, Wise was alleged to have used profanity and said “vile” things about his job. This is claimed to have been taken “out of context,” according to the suit.
“The continued hatchet job Defendant Graham set out to accomplish included allegations against Plaintiff that were very vague, were completely subjective, and were intentionally twisted to present Plaintiff in a bad light,” the suit states.
Among the reasons Graham was said to be disapproving of Wise included a loss of confidence in the administration, the plaintiff’s job performance, and his public conduct. The lawsuit counters Wise was an excellent coach and teacher and states nothing specific was ever defined in his termination.
Over 20 coaches said to have resigned, been fired, or not had their contract renewed “in the last several years,” the lawsuit claims. This is all due to the alleged “tactics of fear and intimidation” as used by Graham. It even says every school principal and most head coaches are leaving this year because of the “Terminator.”
The suit goes on to say the Trumann School Board gives Graham a rubber stamp for “anything she wants.”
NEA Report has reached out to Trumann School District Superintendent Myra Graham through her email address to request an interview or comment. At 12:36 PM on Friday, we received the following statement through email:
“The Trumann School District has been served with a complaint filed by Jordan Wise appealing the non-renewal of his contract with the district. Mr. Wise was notified of the superintendent’s intention to recommend non-renewal to the Trumann School Board and of his right to present evidence and testimony to the board. Mr. Wise requested and was given a hearing before the school board. Evidence related to the reasons was presented, and Mr. Wise addressed the board in response. The school board deliberated privately after hearing the evidence and Mr. Wise. The board reconvened in public session and voted first on the truth of each reason given by the superintendent. The board then voted to uphold the recommendation and not to renew the contract of Mr. Wise. Copies of the public votes taken by the school board are attached to this statement. The lawsuit has been referred to the district’s attorney and will be answered by him.” – Myra Graham, Trumann Public Schools