SAVANNAH — Myers Middle School teacher Lekeshia Jones was fired Wednesday, July 30 on the grounds that her insubordination and cellphone irresponsibility resulted in students circulating nude photos of her.
The Savannah-Chatham school board voted 8 to 1 to terminate Jones after district officials described the drama that ensued after Jones twice left her cellphone unattended in her classroom.
The first time Jones was teaching business classes at Myers Middle School. She had previously given her cellphone password to students so they could call home after school. So one day when she left her phone on her desk and went into the hall to work on a bulletin board, students were able to get into her phone and look through her private photos.
What they saw became the hottest topic on the middle schoolers’ social media sites for weeks — Jones lying in bed with her nude body partially draped in a sheet, a nude selfie and a close up of female anatomy.
“They had created a T.H.O.T (That Ho Over There) Page on Facebook and a Kik Room where several people go on the Internet and can text and share photos,” said Myers Principal Ericka Washington. “She should have reported it.”
Instead Jones rounded up the most likely suspects and launched her own investigation into who had been sharing the photos from her phone. Washington said Jones had students text and email the nude pictures and social media chatter back to her.
The resulting disruptions went on at Myers until Washington found out what was going on and reported it to central office officials.
The drama didn’t end there.
Human Resources Director Ramon Ray said Jones was told she was being recommended for termination for failing to report the cellphone incident and was temporarily placed in a central office desk job.
However, she didn’t return to work for three weeks. Instead she filed complaints about the way she was treated throughout the ordeal. During that time Ray said he discovered a forged teaching contract Jones tried to use to secure a loan.
Jones was ultimately reassigned to DeRenne Middle School on April 17. District officials intended to recommend her for termination at the end of the school year. However, after just two weeks on the job she left her cellphone unattended in her classroom a second time and it was stolen.
Jones then asked for leave with pay and a reassignment to a third school.
District administrators argued that Jones was insubordinate when she didn’t show up for work for three weeks and irresponsible in the way she handled her cellphone.
“She gave her password to the kids and they somehow got on it and when she found out she didn’t report it but had the kids send pictures back to her. Those pictures shouldn’t have been in the classroom in the first place. Policy clearly says if you take a cell phone to school, it’s your responsibility to take care of it,” school board attorney Leamon Holliday said. “Then incredibly she takes her cell phone to a second school and it gets stolen.”
Jones did not present a defense or object to any of the statements or evidence presented at her hearing.
School board member Ruby Jones was the only board member who opposed her termination.