GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County Public Schools teacher says she had no option but to resign because the school denied her request to work from home.
FOX 5’s Alex Whittler first reported Ashley Newman’s situation last week. At the time, she and more than a thousand other teachers were petitioning for a work from home option for the fall 2020 semester.
She and others said they’d quit working for Gwinnett County Public Schools if they weren’t given more options.
Now the petition has nearly 3,000 signatures, Newman quit, and she says others may follow suit.
Teachers were optimistic July 20th, when Gwinnett County Public Schools sent an email, saying educators would have the option to work from home or in person as students all learning virtually.
"Back in April teachers were considered heroes," Newman said.
"Bu that messaging has changed. Now if you’re not willing to risk your life by going into a building unnecessarily then you’re lazy," she said.
Not long after that original email was sent, Newman, who has worked for Gwinnett schools for 6 years, realized a notice was posted to the district’s website.
It had no mention of work from home options.
Several teachers called in for clarification and were all told teachers must work in person.
Their first day was last week. Students begin virtual classes on August 12th. Newman requested leave as a last-ditch effort.
She said if approved, it would’ve paid two-thirds of her salary, but kept her and her 4-year-old daughter out of a classroom.
"At this point, it was whatever I can do to secure my position at the county as well as take care of my child," she said.
That leave request was denied and Newman says it solidified her decision.
"The only reason it was denied is because her school is currently open. They’re only accepting it for schools that are close," she said.
Newman says she doesn’t feel comfortable having her daughter return to in-person pre-schooling.
To make ends meet while homeschooling her daughter, Newman says she’ll tutor small groups of 1 to 3 students, which she says feels safer than sitting in large staff meetings for Gwinnett County schools.
Newman tells me she knows of at least 5 other teachers who are waiting for the district to make a decision on their leave requests. She says they’ll quit too if denied.
FOX 5 reached out to the school system for comment, and representatives sent the following statement:
"The district originally indicated that some employees may be able to work from home, however, due to leave options available, those opportunities are very limited.
Gwinnett County Public Schools values its teachers and employees and we continue to make adjustments to our plans in what is a very fluid situation. Our people are key to our success as we continue to plan for our digital start to the school year and for a transition to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so.”
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