Judge denies former Dollarway superintendent’s bid for reinstatement

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody last week ruled against former Dollarway School District Superintendent Bettye Dunn-Wright in her effort to obtain a court review of her June 2012 removal from her post by the Arkansas Department of Education, which also took control of the district and abolished the its board of directors.

At the time of the action, the district had failed for two straight years to satisfy accreditation standards.

Dunn-Wright, represented by Pine Bluff attorney and Dollarway High School graduate Jackie Harris, requested that Moody order that ADE reinstate her to her former post or compensate her for the remaining two years of a contract under which she was working at the time of her ouster.

Dunn-Wright was hired in July 2011. She had noted after being dismissed that the accreditation failures occurred before she arrived, but said she was working toward remedying the problems and that test scores had improved during her administration.

Harris told Moody that his client had not received proper notice of the state’s plans to fire her and was thus unable to obtain legal counsel to defend herself and the district on charges directed by ADE.

Harris was asked Wednesday if an appeal of Moody’s decision might be filed.

“That decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said, explaining that he and Dunn-Wright were reviewing the matter.

“I wouldn’t have gotten involved in this if I felt actions had been taken according to law,” Harris continued, adding that he felt there were several points “in question.”

Dollarway High School was placed on probation in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. The first offense involved a teacher instructing outside the teacher’s licensed area. The latter was based on errors within students’ transcripts.