Recent Decisions- PRIMARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION

Article excerpt

Employment and Dismissal - Teachers

Teacher appealed denial of worker 's compensation claim for general anxiety disorder (GAD) against board of education. Teacher who suffered from GAD filed a claim alleging that her disorder was caused by her occupation. Held: For the board of education. Commission properly determined that teacher's disorder was not an occupational disease because the teacher failed to prove, as required by law, that her occupation either significantly contributed to or increased her risk of GAD. Hassell v. Onslow Co. Bd. of Educ, 661 S.E.2d 709 (N.C. 2008).

Teacher sued school board for defamation. Teacher received letter that recommended the teacher not be sent back to the school. Held: For the school board. Letter did not meet all the elements required to prove defamation because nothing in the letter would harm the esteem the teacher's colleagues held for him. Tatum v. Orleans Parish Sch. Bd., 982 So. 2d 923 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2008).

Teacher contested termination for misconduct by department of education. Teacher was investigated and found to have engaged in sexual harassment and insubordination. An arbitration hearing resulted in an order for teacher's termination and he appealed. Held: For the department of education. The penalty of dismissal was an appropriate response to the teacher's misconduct. Lackow v. Dept. of Educ. of City of N.Y., 859 N.Y.S.2d 52 (N. Y. App. Div. 1 Dept. 2008).

Teacher sued principal, district, and superintendent for racial discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. African- American teacher alleged that principal discriminated against him on the basis of race when principal reprimanded him, put him on a growth plan, and treated him more harshly than other non-African-American teachers. Held: For the principal, district, and superintendent. Teacher did not prove that the actions taken against him were the result of racial discrimination instead of legitimate reasons. Thus, the claim failed. Anderson v. Clovis Mun. Sch., 265 Fed. Appx. 699 (10th Cir. 2008).

Teacher sued school district for age discrimination and violation of her right of free speech and free association. Sixty-year old teacher applied for several teaching positions over a period of years and was not interviewed for any of them. Held: For the district. Teacher did not prove hiring decisions were motivated by age discrimination, speech, or her relationship with her husband, who was a former teacher in the district. Wingate v. Gage Co. Sch. Dist., 528 F.3d 1074 (8th Cir. 2008).

Teacher sued school for improper suspension. Newly transferred teacher yelled at students, was hostile towards co-workers, and left students unattended in the classroom. As a result, teacher was suspended pending the results of a psychiatric evaluation. Held: For the school. School had a sufficient basis for suspending teacher. Thus, teacher's suspension did not violate any laws. Earley v. Marion, 540 F. Supp. 2d 680 (WD. Va. 2008).

Teacher brought suit against school for religious discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Teacher complained about behavior, which she felt was inconsistent with Christianity, that occurred at school event. School failed to rehire teacher following her complaints about the event Held: For the school in part and for the teacher in part. School was not liable for failing to accommodate the teacher's beliefs because the school did not have proper notice; however, she might have a retaliation claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch., 522 F3d 315 (3d Cir. 2008).

Teacher challenged a termination contending gender discrimination. Teacher had an affair with a coworker. Subsequently, teacher was convicted of driving under the influence and driving with an open container. School cited these reasons as the basis for her termination. Held: For the school. Because she was not able to show a discriminatory reason for her dismissal, the teacher's claim that she was treated differently because of her sex was defeated. …