The Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed a case against Williamson County Schools that was brought by a former Walnut Grove Elementary teacher.

That former teacher is Melanie Lemon who, according to court documents, taught second grade and had worked as an educator for 14 years.

She had alleged defamation, breach of contract and wrongful termination against WCS, stretching back to a 2017 court filing.

On Thursday the Supreme Court ruled that Lemon was not wrongfully terminated under the state's Teacher Tenure Act because she resigned from her position, and the court also dismissed Lemon’s claims of “infliction of emotional distress,” citing no proof of intention. 

“These claims fail because, as we have explained, the predicate conduct of the individual Defendants, while perhaps unpleasant, does not rise to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress,” the ruling reads. 

“We reverse the Court of Appeals’ holding that Ms. Lemon stated a claim for wrongful termination under the Tenure Act and affirm the trial court’s dismissal of that claim,” the conclusion of the opinion by Justice Holly Kirby reads. “We affirm the lower courts’ dismissal of Ms. Lemon’s tort claims. This cause is remanded to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion, and costs are assessed to Appellee, Melanie Lemon, for which execution may issue if necessary.”

Case Background

As previously reported, in June 2017, Lemon filed a lawsuit against WCS, alledging defamation, breach of contract, and wrongful termination, among the charges.

She specifically alleged that she was “bullied, stalked, intimidated, and defamed into a forced resignation.” 

Lemon resigned in May 2017. According to court documents, she alleged that she “felt she had no choice but to resign from her teaching position."

She alleges the school and district administration imposed new challenges on her following a three-day suspension she went through for reportedly harming a student. 

Some of those challenges included allegedly being monitored and timed while teaching or doing other tasks, which Lemon felt were intended to pressure her to quit.

WCS, as well as Walnut Grove Principal Kathryn Donnelly, Superintendent Mike Looney and Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Denise Goodwin, who were named in the suit while it was in the Williamson County court system, pushed back against those allegations.

The unanimous opinion by the Tennessee Supreme Court can be read in full here.

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