Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Double hearsay" insufficient to support teacher tenure charge

Arbitrator Edmund Gerber has granted a teacher's motion to dismiss tenure charges brought against him. The teacher was alleged to have engaged in a number of inappropriate actions, including, inter alia,  brushing up against the breasts of a 12 year old student, making "cat calls" to the student when she was in the hallway, touching the exposed bra strap of another student and making "creepy comments" to her, and "constantly" staring at a student during wrestling class.

In support of the charges, the School District offered a Statement of Evidence signed by the Superintendent. The Statement included attached emails and notes concerning the superintendent's conversations with the Board's attorney, the local police and prosecutor, and unsigned statements of two school administrators who interviewed the students involved. The attachments did not included any signed statements from the complaining students. The teacher claimed that the Superintendent's Statement of Evidence did not assert any personal knowledge on her part.

Granting the teacher's motion to dismiss the charges, Arbitrator Gerber concluded:

The Superintendent ... swore to a statement of evidence and signed under oath the tenure charges but nothing in the record indicated she directly participated in the investigation of the student's complaints or talked to any of those students and/or their parents. Moreover the documents which were relied upon when the tenure charges were brought before the Board consisted of emails and unsigned memorandum from the school administrators who conducted the investigation and the Superintendent's own notes. There are no signed statements from any of the complaining students or their parents. N.J.S.A 18A:6-11 requires that a "written Statement of Evidence under oath to support such charge shall be presented the Board," ...  An oath connotes swearing to the truth of the facts asserted. Here however, no signed written statement by someone with direct knowledge of the alleged events was ever presented to the Board.  The tenure charges were certified on the basis of double hearsay.

Finding this insufficient to meet the statutory requirements Arbitrator Gerber dismissed the charges without prejudice and ordered the teacher's reinstatement with no loss of salary.

Arbitrator Gerber's opinion can be found here.

The importance of testimony from someone with personal knowledge is also discussed at Importance of live witness testimony

No comments:

Post a Comment