Shayla Lawson Leaves OES

by Abe Asher

In the spring of last year, Shayla Lawson, a published and award-winning Kentucky poet in the Affrilachian tradition, was hired by OES to teach Middle School English and work as a dorm parent at the school.

Lawson, a young African-American woman, promised to bring a kind of unique voice and intelligence that excited many in and around the school.

But by Winterim, under acrimonious circumstances, she was gone. Literally.

There were issues from the beginning, but Lawson’s ultimate departure was ugly — believed to have involved a series of serious allegations against the school and other faculty members, lawyers, a settlement, and Lawson abruptly moving out of her apartment in the dorms without any clear warning to colleagues or students.

Lawson is the second African-American dorm faculty member in as many years to depart without completing a single school year. Former head of the dorms MO Owens, who helped hired Lawson last year, left in a strikingly similar manner in 2015.

Lawson’s hire in the Middle School was led by Scott Hardister, who head of the division until this year. He is now working at Marin Country Day School in California. Rick Rees, Chair of the English Department, was involved in the hiring as well.

Tyler Green, the OES boys track and field coach, has taken over as a dorm parent in Lawson’s place, while a team of teachers is covering her classes through the rest of the year. The Middle School has hired a new English teacher by the name of Pete Flynn from Seattle Academy. He will start at the beginning of next year.

Head of the Dorms Deri Bash declined to comment. Head of the Middle School Ann Sulzer declined to comment as well, as did a number of people close to the situation who The Dig reached out to.

Lawson’s response to a request for comment on this story read, in part, “The book release for my new collection PANTONE is tonight at Literary Arts. Details here.”

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