Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions-PRIMARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions-PRIMARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION

Article excerpt

Employment and Dismissal - Teachers

Job applicant sued school district alleging discrimination in hiring process. A school district declined to hire an applicant for a teaching position. The applicant sued, claiming the school refused to hire her because of her mental disability. Held: For the school district. The school district was unaware that applicant's disability and it did not perceive her as disabled. In re Isaksson-Wilder v. N.Y. State Div. of Human Rights, 43 A.D.3d 921 (N.Y. App. Div. 2 Dept. 2007).

Teacher sued district alleging retaliation in violation of First Amendment. Teacher filed grievance against assistant principal, which he discussed with assistant principal and other teachers. Teacher claimed assistant principal and other school officials retaliated with negative performance reviews, disciplinary reports and false accusations. Held: For the district, in part, and the teacher, in part. Free speech rights do not protect a government employee when he is performing official duties. Teacher could not pursue claim based on conversation with assistant principal but could pursue claims based on conversations with other teachers. Weintraub v. Bd. of Educ. of City of N.Y., 489 F. Supp. 2d 209 (E.D.N.Y. 2007).

Teacher sued administrator of disability benefits challenging benefits denial. After sustaining injury at work, special needs food services teacher applied for long-term disability benefits. Insurance company classified the injured teacher strictly as a "teacher" and denied benefits since no evidence supported a conclusion that the teacher was physically prevented from performing his regular occupation. Held: For the teacher. The denial was arbitrary and capricious since the teacher submitted a letter sufficiently covering his job duties which should have made the insurance company adequately aware the effects of the disability on his job performance. Weiss v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 497 F. Supp. 2d 606 (D.N.J. 2007).

Teacher sued district alleging termination without due process. Without providing a hearing, the school terminated teacher after she failed to satisfy continuing education requirements. Held: For the teacher. Even though the school district was within its rights to terminate the teacher's employment, this right is separate from due process rights which require access to a hearing before termination. Rettie v. Unified Sch. Dist., 167 P3d 810 (Kan. App. 2007).

Career contract teacher appealed decision discharging him from his position. The school board fired the teacher after receiving numerous complaints about his teaching performance. Held: For the teacher. The standard for the teacher's termination in this case was supposed to be based primarily on student performance on annual tests. Since the school board did not base its decision on the performance of the teacher's students, the decision to terminate the teacher was reversed. Sherrod v. Palm Beach County Sch. Bd., 963 So.2d 251 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2006).

Teacher appealed termination alleging no evidence of insubordination and no good cause. Elementary school teacher was terminated after attending a pre-planning day at school while on long-term disability leave. School policy required an employee to provide a fitness-for-duty report before returning. Even though teacher signed in, she maintained that she did not intend to return to work. Held: For the teacher. The court found no insubordination because there was no willful disregard of rules. The teacher never intended to return to work, and returning to work required more than physical presence at work. Browner v. Manetta City Bd. ofEduc., 646 S.E.2d 89 (Ga. App. 2007).

Contracted teacher sued county and county official for wrongful termination. Contracted teacher spoke out against the county's policy on the education of autistic children, and the teacher's contract was subsequently terminated. The county argued that the speech was not protected, and the teacher argued that the speech was protected as a matter of public importance. …

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