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Friendswood school board votes not to terminate teacher; reassigned to new role

Parents gather to support Friendswood teacher in danger of losing job

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas – The Friendswood Independent School District has decided not to fire a first-grade teacher who lost her teenage son to suicide this year. 

Rachel Willard is a first-grade teacher in Friendswood Independent School District. 

The school board says Willard has missed too many days at work, even after being given the full amount of family leave this year after her son, who was a freshman at Friendswood High School, took his own life in January. The school board says this has been a difficult situation but they are following state guidelines.

According to the district, Willard will not be fired but assigned as a co-teacher to a pre-kindergarten inclusion classroom for the upcoming school year. 

The board was scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the matter further but that meeting has been canceled.  

The school board meeting room was packed with dozens of her supporters Monday night when board members met to consider the termination of Willard's contract.

Willard's supporters say the board's actions are cruel considering what she's had to go through with the loss of her son. Several spoke on her behalf, including her own daughter, who came home from college to attend the Monday night meeting.

But there was no resolution. The board voted to table the issue until 7:30 a.m. May 16. By state law they have to make a decision on Willard's fate by the end of business the day.