Below is my account of what happened Thursday, March 12, 2020
I substitute taught for Coach Lee with Coach Newhart in Spradling and Bonneville’s PE Classes. We started our day in Spradling, then left for lunch and finished the day at Bonneville. Between that time, I shared lunch with a friend who arrived that morning from Tulsa while I substituted at Spradling Elementary. We spent a total of 25 minutes together.
At approximately 12:52 PM he texted me, warning that his coworker spent the weekend in Aspen with someone contracted with the virus. He immediately left town. I immediately made Coach Newhart aware of the situation and we both decided I should stay, partly because she’d vomited in the bushes in front of the school, a member of staff walked by her and asked over her shoulder if she was okay but didn’t check on her. She was suffering from a severe migraine but both of us knew that we wouldn’t be allowed to leave without someone getting angry with us so we both stayed until the final class where I left Bonneville at approximately 2:45 pm.
I called Mercy and told them my situation; they instructed me to cancel my appointment and call the Health Department. I called the Health Department and they gave me an 800-number to call, then I called them who took my number and said they’d call back.
On the morning of Friday, March 13, 2020, I received a call from FSPS that terrified me. Mrs. Penix told me that Mrs. Dawson was terribly upset and called HR telling them that I was infected with the virus. I answered her questions truthfully until I realized that I would be losing my job and became upset. In that time I messaged the other PE Coach asking what she told Mrs. Dawson and she called me. We had a conversation for about ten minutes and from that, I gathered that she wasn’t allowed to grab her jacket from the gym, Robyn was angry, sent an email regarding me and the gym would be fumigated.
I had yet to see my friend during my time at Spradling Elementary. Robyn Dawson took gossip and spread it like that virus through her entire school. Around 11 am I spoke with the school nurse who wanted to “get to the bottom” of everything going around the school. Everything going around the school. A nurse casually mentioned that people were talking about me. Mrs.Dawson’s name and behavior was mentioned again and she asked me a series of questions where she concluded there didn’t need any further investigation. At this moment I realized Mrs. Dawson could take to her social media and I feared more people finding out, especially since I wasn’t infected.
Later this afternoon, my friend informed me that his coworkers’ test came back negative and I took the task of letting everyone know that his results were negative. When I called Spradling Elementary, the first school I visited that day hours before I had lunch with my partner, the receptionist asked if “I was the receptionist from yesterday?” when I asked her to elaborate, she alluded to the virus. I was humiliated, but it also proved that what everyone was saying was true; Mrs. Dawson was telling people that I had an incurable disease.
News travels fast in this small town, and it devastates me that a principal of a school would spread rumors about me before even speaking to me. I volunteered at Spradling a few times before I even taught there. In speaking with Mrs. Penix, she agreed that Mrs. Dawson’s behavior regarding my situation never should have happened but despite the negative test result, the damage has been done. I am no longer able to work here.
I told the truth, have no ties to the virus, but FSPS staff sent a schoolwide email about me regarding a rumor. I am extremely disappointed with Fort Smith Public Schools, and at this point just want to make sure I don’t lose my home due to Mrs. Dawson’s entertainment they had at my expense.
I found it even more concerning that they both didn’t hide the fact that they didn’t care that I was humiliated, but that I found out.
If the person is reprimanded and fired after this, we all know why.