Teacher Triumphs In Grade Integrity Lawsuit, Eyes Board Seat

A former elementary school teacher from Henry County, Georgia, last week won a significant legal victory after six years of litigation against her previous employer, Cotton Indian Elementary School. The court awarded Sheri Mimbs compensation for wrongful termination based on her refusal to inflate student grades dishonestly.

Mimbs’ conflict began in 2017 when she received instructions from an assistant principal to never assign grades below 60, even if the work was not submitted. “I went to the assistant principal and she was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You need to change those grades. Kids can’t have less than a 60,’” Mimbs recounted. Standing firm on her principles, Mimbs chose not to comply, leading to the non-renewal of her contract. Her lawsuit claimed retaliation, which the jury validated by ordering the school district to cover her legal costs and reverse the non-renewal decision.

Following her court victory, Mimbs is not just stopping at clearing her name. She is now running for a seat on the school board. Her platform will center on making real changes to grading structures from within the system. Mimbs is running for the School Board District 5 seat, competing against newcomers Gewel Richardson and incumbent Makenzie McDaniel.

Mimbs’ case is just one example of a widespread problem in many local districts, especially those with predominantly minority communities. Teachers’ unions and administrators are applying increasing pressure to pass students under any circumstance in order to preserve local district ratings and funding. Especially in locations without meaningful public school choice, students are thereby condemned to substandard education simply because of where they live.

For example, in Arizona’s Casa Grande Union High School District, reports have surfaced of administration urging teachers to retroactively alter failing grades to passing to ensure students’ graduation. “There’s been a request made by our administrators of our teachers to go back into historically archived grades of seniors who would otherwise not pass and change their grades,” said Donna Telles, a teacher and union representative at Vista Grande High School.

Mimbs’ story resonates as a beacon for those in the educational system who feel compelled to compromise their standards out of fear of reprisal. It points to the need for leadership to prioritize long-term student success over short-term statistical gains and fill in check-marks on federal Department of Education forms. Inflating grades protects substandard teachers, administrators and districts while throwing American children into a cycle of unpreparedness.