Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions - ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions - ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Article excerpt

Faculty and Administration

Teacher appealed her termination by department of education for verbally abusing students. According to multiple students and the school's principal, a teacher could not control her abusive verbal outbursts, which resulted in her insulting special education students. Upon settling previment ous disciplinary charges, the teacher entered into an agreement to be terminated if she was found guilty of verbally abusing students. A hearing officer found that outbursts following the agreement constituted abuse, and the teacher appealed. Held: For the departtnent of education. The teacher's inability to control her verbal outbursts constituted sufficient grounds for termination. Camacho v. City ofN. Y, 966 N.Y.S.2d 33 (N.Y. App. Div. 2013).

State department of education appealed order that set aside its decision to terminate teacher's employment. A teacher posted inappropriate comments on a social media website regarding a tragedy about a student at another school. The teacher initially denied making the comments, but later admitted that she made them and apologized. The department terminated the teacher's employment for the comments, but the decision to terminate the teacher was set aside. Held: For the teacher. The teacher's online comments were not published to the public at large and were deleted three days after they were posted. In addition, the teacher had a clean 15-year record and promised never to repeat her behavior. Thus, the penalty of termination was deemed unfair. In re Rubino v. City of N.Y., 965 N.Y.S.2d 47 (N.Y. App. Div. 2013).

Teacher appealed order confirming an arbitration award in favor of department of education for teacher's negligent conduct. A teacher negligently dealt with a stray cat that she found in her backyard. The department of education conducted a hearing and the arbitrator found that her conduct was inappropriate considering her role as a teacher. The teacher was fined $12,500 for her negligent conduct and appealed for a lesser fine. Held: For the teacher. The teacher had a clean, 15-year record as a teacher and her charge was unrelated to her professional work. Thus, the $12,500 fine was disproportionate to the offense and deemed unfair. Accordingly, the fine was reduced to $1,250. In re Liu v. N.Y. City Bd., 967 N.Y.S.2d 334 (N.Y. App. Div. 2013).

Teacher sued school district and school officials alleging retaliation under Rehabilitation Act and Illinois Whistleblower Act. A teacher opposed alleged disability-based discrimination against her students and faced retaliation from the school. The school district and school officials moved to dismiss the teacher's retaliation claims. Held: For the teacher. Third- party retaliation claims had been upheld in the past and thus sup- ported the teacher's position. Also, the teacher's claim under the Illinois Whistleblower Act survived because the law prohibited an employer from retaliating against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency. MacFarlan v. Bd. of Educ. Sch. Dist. 65 Evanston Skokie, Illinois, 904 F. Supp. 2d 852 (N.D. 111. 2012).

Board of education appealed reversal of teacher's suspension. A teacher put her arm around a disobedient student's back to urge him to the principal's office for running in the halls. The child complained the teacher was choking him. The teacher was suspended and sought review, but the hearing tribunal found her guilty of conduct unbecoming of a teacher. The Circuit Court reversed the tribunal's decision and the board appealed. Held: For the teacher. The teacher's act was not "conduct unbecoming of a teacher" because it did not offend the sensibilities of a reasonable person. There was no evidence that the student was actually choking. Further, her conduct was reasonable because ensuring students' safety at school may require teachers to use appropriate physical contact when there is an unruly or disobedient student. Bd. of Educ. …

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