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Red Lodge teacher addresses controversy over contract not being renewed

Posted at 7:16 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 21:19:14-05

A day after the Red Lodge School Board voted not to renew the contract of middle school teacher Steven Morris without revealing what led to the decision, the teacher talked with MTN News.

The Red Lodge School Board voted Thursday not to renew his contract, despite a show of hundreds in support of keeping him. Trustees voted 4-1 against keeping Morris, a non-tenured social studies teacher at Roosevelt Middle School.

More than 200 people packed into the Red Lodge High School gym for the board meeting, with the vast majority supporting Morris.

Morris spoke on his own behalf during the meeting, though he was stopped by Board Chair Elise Fouts from discussing the details of the complaint against him.

During public comment, 12 people lined up to speak in favor of Morris' dismissal. About 200 people signed up to speak in his favor. His supporters gave him a standing ovation after he gave his comments.

On Friday, Morris said during an interview with MTN that he lost his job after being told he had threatened a student.

Morris also admitted that his performance as a teacher in the school district had come under scrutiny previously, but declined to release any documents related to his employment as a teacher in Red Lodge without prior approval from his former employer.

Morris, who's been with the district since 2019, has been on paid leave since the first week of January after the Montana Association of Schools Boards received a complaint against him.

“I recognize the superintendent and the board are within their legal rights to carry out these proceedings and to terminate me without cause. Without fail, I will respect the process and conduct myself in a dignified manner, because as the words on my classroom door read and remind me every day, example is the best teacher," Morris said.