By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Veteran political operative Sharon Wheeler is suing the AEA for $170,000 for failing to honor its agreement for her services as an external affairs specialist. Wheeler, like others, received a letter terminating her services from Gregory D. Burns, who identified himself as an AEA Trustee. Burns, who works with the National Education Association (NEA), was temporarily placed at the head of the organization after former Executive Secretary-Treasurer Henry C. Mabry resigned.
Many such letters were sent after the NEA took control of the AEA toward the end of March 2015.
Wheeler is represented by Joe Espy of the Montgomery-based law firm of Melton Espy & Williams, P.C., who has served as lead attorney in numerous high-profile suits. Espy said, that Wheeler tried unsuccessful to work out the situation with Burns but was rebuffed.
“We believe Mrs. Wheeler was terminated without valid cause,” said Espy. “We attempted to resolve the matter in advance and were unsuccessful and therefore Mrs. Wheeler is simply asking for what she is entitled to in accordance with the written agreement that she had.”
The agreement between Wheeler reads, “Beginning December 16, 2014 until June 16, 2016, Sharon Wheeler will be paid $10,295 per month as an External Affairs Specialist. Mrs. Wheeler will be allowed to participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama and PEEHIP.” It was signed by then Executive Secretary-Treasurer Henry Mabry.
Others have complained of their treatment after the NEA took control of the teacher’s association, but Wheeler is the first to take legal action.