Mr. Falash claims that he was wrongfully terminated by Inspire Academics, an online charter school. The board gave Mr. Falash a hearing, but Mr. Falash claims that his firing was a done deal beforehand, and thus the hearing was mere “window dressing.” According to the federal court in Idaho, Mr. Falash may have a good case.
The issue here is procedural due process. Mr. Falash had a property right in continued employment with Inspire, and thus, he was entitled to “due process” before that right could be taken from him. Inspire claimed in the lawsuit that it provided due process by giving him that hearing before the board. The problem, however, was that Inspire produced written documentation prior to the board hearing that spoke of his termination in the past tense. Consider this:
Your termination was related to your performance and complaints received regarding your behavior.
Hmmm. That sure sounds like the guy is already gone. Key Quote:
…where a board of representatives has predetermined the outcome of a due process hearing, there may be a denial of due process.
A hearing does not comport with due process if it “is totally devoid of a meaningful opportunity to be heard” because the decision-makers have predetermined the outcome of the hearing.
The court held that there was enough evidence of predetermination that it could not simply toss the case out of court. Mr. Falash will have his day in court.
The case is Falash v. Inspire Academics, Inc. decided by the federal court in Idaho on September 12, 2016. We found it at 68 IDELR 163.
DAWG BONE: BOARD MEMBERS MUST HAVE AN OPEN MIND WHEN HEARING A TERMINATION CASE
File this one under: DUE PROCESS LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT
We thought this point was well established. There have been numerous judicial decisions about kids participating in various extracurricular activities. The message from those cases has been consistent and clear—the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee, or even protect, the right to participate in after school activities.
The Constitution does protect a student’s right to an education. That’s why “due process” is necessary prior to a suspension from school, even a short one. But the student’s right to “property” and “liberty” comes to an end when the school day does.
Federal Judge Sam Lindsay affirmed these basic principles in a case involving a wannabe cheerleader in Highland Park ISD (Region 10). It’s a lengthy decision addressing myriad claims by the parents and the student. As to cheerleading, here is the takeaway quote:
The court disagrees with Plaintiffs’ contention that Kate has a property or liberty interest in cheerleading.
That’s pretty clear. What were Kate and her parents and their lawyer thinking? They cited a Pennsylvania case from 2011, but the judge found their reliance on this case “misplaced.” In fact, Hizzoner had some harsh words to say about this:
Plaintiffs are not being forthright with the court, and the court is troubled by their attempt to mislead it through the misapplication of case law.
We will talk more about this very interesting case next week. But this being a Friday, we had to highlight the cheerleader aspect. Have a good weekend, Readers!
The case is Dabney v. Highland Park ISD, decided by the federal court for the Northern District of Texas on March 31, 2016.
DAWG BONE: GENERAL RULE: ALWAYS BE “FORTHRIGHT” WITH THE JUDGE.
Dear Dawg: We love Happy the Dog. That’s the name of little Emily’s service animal. Happy the Dog has been with us for two years now, and has become a part of our family. We have had no problems whatsoever, and the kids love Happy the Dog.
But rules are rules. Last Tuesday Happy the Dog got into a number of backpacks and ate the lunch of at least three students. If a student had done this, we would have imposed a disciplinary penalty—like a couple of days in ISS. We see no reason why Happy the Dog should be treated differently. Like I said, he’s part of our family here.
But I thought I better check with you, Dawg. I don’t want the PETA people to get on my back on this. We are just trying to enforce our rules fairly. And maybe I shouldn’t be asking you about this: you being a Dawg, do you have a conflict of interest here? RULES IS RULES.
DEAR RULES IS RULES: I don’t think it’s the PETA people you have to worry about—it’s the ACLU. Sending Happy the Dog to ISS would be a violation of the constitutional right of due process, and the ACLU would be all over that. It’s a fundamental rule of due process that you have to give notice of the types of behaviors that might get someone in trouble. That’s why you distribute the Code of Conduct at the beginning of the year and ask parents to sign a receipt. That’s why you have a student assembly to go over the rules.
Has Happy the Dog read the Code of Conduct? Hmmm. I didn’t think so. Did you go over its provisions with Happy the Dog to be sure he understands? No? Well, then, you cannot punish Happy the Dog for this behavior. You have not given him notice that eating a student’s lunch is a violation of the rules.
Maybe I do have a conflict of interest here, but I just have to say that I think you are punishing Happy the Dog for being a dog. Dogs eat other people’s lunches. It’s what they do. FREE HAPPY THE DOG!!
DAWG BONE: LET’S LET DOGS BE DOGS…..OR DAWGS, AS THE CASE MAY BE.