Sep 14, 2023 - Education

Cobb teacher who read book about gender identity appeals firing

Katie Rinderle

Cobb County teacher Katie Rinderle testifies at a hearing at the Cobb County Board of Education in Marietta on Aug. 10. Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Arvin Temkar

The Cobb County teacher who was fired last month after reading a book about gender identity to her students has appealed her termination to the State Board of Education.

Driving the news: Katie Rinderle's appeal was submitted Thursday to Cobb County Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, said the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing Rinderle alongside the Goodmark Law Firm.

Why it matters: School districts in Georgia and across the country are facing heightened scrutiny from parents, politicians and activist groups seeking to have more control over what children can learn in the classroom.

  • Rinderle was fired under a new state law that puts restrictions on what teachers can introduce in the classroom.
  • Days after her firing, the school district removed two other books — "Flamer" by Mike Curato and Jesse Andrews' "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" — from its school library shelves after the outside, conservative activist organization Libs of TikTok asked if they were "appropriate" for students.

Catch up quick: Rinderle was removed from the classroom earlier this year after a parent complained about the teacher reading "My Shadow Is Purple," her attorney Craig Goodmark previously told Axios.

  • The book features a six-year-old child and tells a story of "being true to yourself and moving beyond the gender binary," according to its description.
  • Last month, the Cobb County Board of Education voted terminate Rinderle's employment, despite a tribunal panel's recommendation that she should keep her job.

What they're saying: Rinderle said in a statement that she appealed because she is against "censorship, discrimination and harm to students in any form."

  • "I'm committed to creating inclusive, diverse and empowering environments that center students in their learning journey," she said.

The other side: The school district told Axios in a statement that it's "confident the actions of the board were appropriate considering the entirety of the teacher's behavior and history."

What's next: The superintendent is required to submit the appeal to the State Board of Education, who will then take it up, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

  • Goodmark told Axios that both sides will file appeals in the case, a hearing will be scheduled and a decision will follow, likely in early 2024.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Atlanta.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Atlanta stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Atlanta.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more