Arbitrator Deborah Gaines has upheld the tenure charges against a teacher, finding just cause for termination. Wayne County Board of Education
The teacher was responsible for a class of approximately 16 students, half of whom were special education students or students who fell on the autism spectrum. She acknowledged that on two occasions she sent a disruptive student to the bathroom as a de-escataion technique. According to the teacher, the bathroom door was left ajar and she asked a teachers aide to watch the student.
Arbitrator Gaines found that the evidence supported the Board's charge that the teacher had improperly confined students to the bathroom and that this action violated District policy. Whether the door was left ajar, as grievant testified, or was closed, as another witness testified, the arbitrator found no evidence ghat anyone was overseeing the students.
Upholding termination, Arbitrator Gaines observed:
Respondent's improper confinement of special education students to a bathroom is serious misconduct. Foremost in a teacher's responsibility is the need to protect and safeguard their students. This is especially true of special education students who are particularly vulnerable. Respondent on more than one occasion placed the students in potentially harmful situation. The students were unsupervised, while emotionally distraught, in a tiny room with the potential to bump their head become more distraught.
The arbitrator concluded that grievant had other alternatives available to her, and "her lack of judgment is a clear instance of unprofessional conduct." Despite the lack of prior discipline, Arbitrator Gaines found the severity of the misconduct justified termination.