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Former Schoolteacher Determined to Take School District to Task

Michele Vulcano Hall is currently fighting to keep her case against the Easton Area (PA) School District alive in Federal District Court. The school district’s attorneys have asked the court to dismiss Vulcano Hall’s claims on the grounds that she has failed to prove the violation of any legally-protected right.

you%20are%20fired.jpgIn August of 2008, Vulcano Hall was engaged in a practical skills workshop internship when the district offered her a full-time teaching job. She was fired one year later. In her lawsuit, Vulcano Hall alleged she was dismissed in retaliation for her father’s position as a vocal school board member.

In response, the district denied any retaliatory motive. Further, it alleged that Vulcano Hall’s employment was a 10-month temporary position. The district admits, however, that its primary motive for terminating Vulcano Hall’s employment was her failure to attain full certification.

Currently, Vulcano Hall works as a substitute teacher for the district. Although she does not possess full teaching certification, her current credentials are sufficient for substitute teaching. During her prior 10-month teaching tenure in the district, Vulcano Hall taught subjects in multimedia/study skills.

The entire case appears to turn upon two primary points of contention: 1) Whether or not Vulcano Hall’s former teaching position was permanent or temporary employee; and, 2) The true motive for her eventual termination.

Hall’s attorney argued that her client had received written and verbal assurances of 2 to 3-year extension of time to earn full teaching certification. The district had purportedly made an exception to this policy for Vulcano Hall, as she has several long-term learning disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires employers to make “reasonable accommodation” for disabled workers. Felker also invoked a Pennsylvania statute that requires prior unsatisfactory job ratings as a condition precedent for terminating public employment. Allegedly, Vulcano Hall consistently received positive evaluations.
Hall’s attorney asked that the court allow the modification of original pleadings if it finds that they do not sufficiently set forth Vulcano Hall’s legal claims. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows judges to permit the amendment of complaint documents in such instances.

If you are a California school administrator with a question about school district related employment law, student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district employment law issue.