Firing of North Kingstown teacher made public

North Kingstown High School (Photo: Steph Machado / WPRI 12)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Personnel matters at public schools are often private affairs, but the recent firing of a North Kingstown High School teacher was made public.

The teacher at issue – Shelley McDonald – approved the open discussion of her firing, which she claims was an act of retaliation by the school committee for her long-held views that workplace Wi-Fi gives her headaches and is a danger to others.

“I believe that we’re here tonight because I’m loud,” McDonald said during a hearing. “I’m a persistent advocate for the health and well-being of my students, my colleagues and myself.”

North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger said that was not the case and the vote last week was about alleged insubordination, including McDonald’s refusal to proctor the December PARCC exam out of concern the testing company would obtain her sensitive personal information.

Auger said an agreement has been reached to have test proctors’ personal information remain private.

The next PARCC exam is scheduled for April.

“If she follows through and fulfills her job description, which includes proctoring that test, I have no problem dropping this issue altogether,” Auger added. “But the ball right now is in her court.”

McDonald has asked for accommodations to shield her from Wi-Fi but hasn’t provided enough medical documentation, according to Auger. The state health department told the district it is not concerned about the use of school Wi-Fi.

The Centers for Disease Control says experts don’t have the science to link health problems to Wi-Fi while the World Health Organization calls it a possible carcinogen.

Eyewitness News reached out to McDonald and the teachers’ union for comment, but our calls and emails went unreturned.

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