A former teacher with Mansfield ISD is suing the district alleging it created an unsafe work environment and failed to address the “terroristic threats” of a student in the weeks prior to an October 2021 shooting that injured three people at Timberview High School.
Aretha Hall filed her lawsuit in Tarrant County on Wednesday. She’s seeking more than $1 million in damages.
During the 2021-22 school year, a student who was identified by his initials in the lawsuit consistently disrupted Hall’s class, she alleges. The student became more and more aggressive toward Hall when she tried to correct his behavior, and eventually started making “terroristic threats” toward her, the lawsuit states.
Hall informed school officials of the student’s behavior, but “MISD allowed the situation to continue to escalate, creating an unsafe environment for Aretha Hall and the other students, teachers and faculty present,” according to the lawsuit.
Hall experienced debilitating anxiety along with other mental health issues every time she arrived at campus, the lawsuit says. She blamed the district’s failure “to address and mitigate the deterioration of the environment at Timberview” for causing her emotional and mental breakdown.
She was on medical leave from teaching when she learned about the Timberview shooting. The news further accelerated her mental and emotional deterioration, according to the lawsuit.
The district fired Hall, causing her to lose wages and benefits, the lawsuit states. Hall also alleges that the district materially breached her contract by only paying her for 32 hours of paid time off instead of the full 144 hours she’d earned during her employment at Timberview.
“The defendants injured Aretha Hall by converting her earnings, wrongfully terminating her employment and retaliating against her for reporting the deterioration of the school and workplace environment at Timberview,” the lawsuit states.
Hall is requesting a jury trial
Mansfield ISD declined to comment on the lawsuit.
“Mansfield ISD is not in a position to discuss pending litigation,” the district told the Star-Telegram in an email.
Timberview High is part of the Mansfield school district but is located in the city of Arlington. The student accused in the 2021 shooting, Timothy Simpkins, was convicted of attempted capital murder in July and sentenced to 12 years.