photo of Matthew Hawn

Matthew Hawn


A Sullivan County native and lifelong resident, Matthew Hawn joined the Sullivan County School System in 2005. For 16 years, he taught Economics, World History, Contemporary Issues, and Personal Finance while coaching baseball, softball, and football. Matthew's commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment extended beyond his teaching and coaching roles. From 2017 to 2019, he proudly served as the teacher advisor to SCHS PRIDE, the sole LGBTQIA student organization in Sullivan County. His dedication to creating a safe space for LGBTQIA students demonstrated his commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.
On May 5, 2021, Matthew faced a challenging turn of events. On the same day that the Tennessee General Assembly passed a contentious bill regarding divisive concepts in education, he was dismissed by Sullivan County Schools. The dismissal arose from his commitment to teaching racial equity and justice lessons in an upper-level contemporary issues class. Despite his dedication to fostering critical thinking and open dialogue in the classroom, he was accused of unprofessionalism and insubordination. The catalysts for the dismissal included assigning an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates following the January 6 insurrection and presenting the poem "White Privilege" by the avant-garde poet Kyla Jenee Lacey during the Derek Chauvin trial in April 2021. Matthew became the first tenured public school teacher dismissed for teaching lessons related to racial equity and justice during a nationwide debate on Critical Race Theory.
Matthew's story gained national attention and was featured in national media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Economist, CNN, CBS, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Under Tennessee's tenure law, he has pursued a three-step appeals process, with the first two appeals yielding no success. Matthew is in litigation with Sullivan County Schools, awaiting trial on April 23, 2024.

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Events featuring Matthew Hawn
Events featuring Matthew Hawn