After quietly rehiring a former principal it had investigated for allegedly planning to rig state tests and for calling students the N-word, Shelby County Schools abruptly fired her last month, documents obtained by Chalkbeat show.
Memphis school leaders dismissed Tracie Boyd Greer effective Dec. 6. A letter signed by Superintendent Dorsey Hopson did not cite the reason.
Greer had been working as a compliance monitor for the district’s after-school programs.
Four years ago, she resigned as principal of the Florida-Kansas Elementary School. She was recorded apparently asking teachers to help students cheat on state exams to boost the school’s passing rate.
An investigator’s notes quote someone saying that Greer, who is black, also often used the N-word. About 77 percent of Shelby County Schools students are black.
She served as principal for eight years. After leaving the school district the first time in 2014, the Memphis charter network City University hired her to lead its boys middle school. That school is now slated to close for poor academics.
Teacher union leaders say Greer’s rehiring shows how the district finds ways to hold onto employees who have bad records.
“It has happened enough to be noticeable, and to raise awareness, and for it to be brought to my attention,” said Tikeila Rucker, the president of the United Education Association of Shelby County. “This sends a message to other employees that it is OK to be unprofessional, lack morals, and integrity because there are not any consequences or systems in place to hold one accountable.”
“I do think the district has some culpability when it comes to rehiring people who have done a disservice to children,” said Keith Williams, the executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association. In getting a job with the district, he said, “It just depends on who you are and who you know, and it shouldn’t be like that.”
Shelby County Schools officials said they do not comment on individual employee matters, but that the district “works to continuously improve upon its applicant vetting processes and make adjustments to these processes as new information warrants the changes.”
Greer could not be reached by phone for comment, and no one answered the door when a reporter went by her home.
Chalkbeat obtained Greer’s personnel file through an open records request filed in late November. Shelby County Schools released part of the file Dec. 3 — three days before she was fired — and a few more documents two weeks later, which included the termination letter.
Greer started her career in the former Memphis City Schools in 1992 and worked her way up to principal in 2006 at Florida-Kansas Elementary School before the state-run Achievement School District took over the campus in 2015.
Two weeks before Greer resigned from Shelby County Schools in 2014, the district had suspended her with pay pending an investigation into the cheating and name-calling allegations. Her file did not include the results of the investigation nor her response to the allegations. At least one teacher told district officials Greer directly asked him or her to help students cheat, according to investigator notes in Greer’s file.
The district earlier had reprimanded Greer for lack of professionalism. As an assistant principal of Getwell Elementary in 2003, Greer told a parent that the school “served ghetto children” and “this is just a ghetto area,” according to a report in her file written by her then-supervisor Terry Ross. (Ross himself is under investigation for separate allegations of improper grade changing and employee harassment.)
“That literally saddened me beyond recognition because how we feel about our children is how we serve them and treat them,” Ross said in his reprimand of Greer.