By Aya Elamroussi, Special to the AFRO

When D.C. Public Schools fired third-grade teacher Jeff Canady in 2009, he couldn’t leave the District and look for a job elsewhere. Both his parents were sick and needed his help. He slept in a car for two years.

“My living situation has been very difficult. Extremely difficult,” Canady told the AFRO.

He was fired in 2009 after an evaluation deemed him ineffective. Canady disputed his termination, arguing that he was wrongly fired and that the city was retaliating against him for being a union activist and for criticizing the school system.

D.C. teachers protesting (Courtesy Photo).

Nine years later- earlier this month- an arbitrator ruled in favor of Canady, a ruling that could entitle him to hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay and the opportunity to be a District teacher again, The Washington Post reported.

DCPS can appeal the ruling, which was made by the American Arbitration Association, a third-party nonprofit organization that settles disputes outside of court.

“You never know what the district will do… They may continue to retaliate and break the law. That’s their choice,” Canady said.

DCPS Press Secretary told the AFRO in an email that they have been notified of the arbitrator’s decision and is in the process of reviewing it.

Canady was among nearly 1,000 other teachers fired during Michelle Rhee’s 3.5-year tenure as D.C. schools chancellor back in 2010. Rhee’s approach to education reform in the nation’s capital drew much scrutiny because she instituted a teacher evaluation system that dictated teachers’ job security and bonuses, The Post reported.

Even though Rhee’s system was implemented after Canady was fired, he scored low on the evaluation. Both he and the teachers’ union argued that his third-graders performed well and that he had achieved high scores on his evaluations, The Post reported.

“I’m one of the best teachers in the city,” Canady told the AFRO. “Probably the country.”

The Post wrote that there has been suspicion his evaluation was connected to his public criticism of the school system and not to his performance in the classroom.

He said that he spoke up about the lack of internet service where he was teaching and questioned the chancellor’s process of contract signing at the time.

Canady added that the city did not follow proper protocol when evaluating him. And when he was fired, DCPS didn’t follow the proper procedure.

“They refused to give me a due process hearing,” he added.

He argued that under Rhee’s term, there was a major plunge in the number of Black teachers in DCPS.

“It’s been a long history of retaliation.”

Canady holds a bachelor’s degree in social work, a master’s in both early childhood education and public administration.

A lifelong D.C. resident, he attended Ballou High School and McKinley Technology High School.