A Hartford, CT school district will pay $20,000 to a teacher who was let go in spite of the fact that she was tenured. The Rocky Hill Board of Education agreed to the settlement after Margaret Hale filed a lawsuit at the Superior Court in Hartford. The suit alleged that the district violated state and federal law when it made hiring decisions without holding a hearing on Hale’s tenure claim.
According to Hale, state law required the district to give her one of the two full-time positions that were open at the time her position was eliminated. Instead, Hale was let go and the open positions were given to a non-tenured teacher and an inexperienced new hire. After being passed over for the positions she was legally entitled to, Hale was rehired for her original position when it was reestablished. She asked the court to order that she be reinstated at the school as a full-time teacher and that the date of reinstatement be made June 2011.
Hale was a high school English teacher at Rocky Hill High School in Hartford when her position was eliminated due to budget cuts. She had held the position since 2008 and had received tenure. According to the suit, Hale immediately informed the district that she was interested in one of two open full-time positions and requested a formal hearing. Instead of granting her request, she claimed the district violated Connecticut’s Teacher Tenure Act by delaying, then attempting to rescind Hale’s termination and give her a more limited part-time position. Hale could not accept the district’s offer because it violated the district’s teacher contract and would have voided her health insurance coverage and reduced her pay grade.
In response to the lawsuit, Hale was hired as a full-time teacher, and the district’s school board voted to pay her $20,000 to cover the wages and benefits she lost due to the district’s actions and to pay for legal fees. She will also meet privately with the school board and the district’s superintendent to discuss the district’s plan to ensure compliance with state law in the future.
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.