NCLR and attorney Michael Shirk from the National Education Association/Texas State Teacher’s Association negotiated a settlement on behalf of Merry Stephens, an award-winning teacher and basketball coach with Bloomburg Independent School District in the small rural community of Bloomburg, Texas.
Coach Stephens was honored as a “Teacher of the Year” in 2004 and named “Coach of the Year” in three of her five years as head coach of the Lady Wildcats basketball team. During her award-winning tenure, Coach Stephens led the team to district, regional, and semi-state championships, breaking several school district coaching records in the process. Stephens also received excellent teaching evaluations throughout her tenure with the Bloomburg Independent School District.
In December 2004, the School Board initiated proceedings to terminate Coach Stephens. The school board president testified under oath that the board’s decision to terminate Coach Stephens was based on the personal anti-gay animosity of several school board members. In exchange for Coach Stephens’ agreement not to pursue further legal action, the district agreed to pay Coach Stephens a monetary settlement.