Court of Appeals: Div. I – Openly Gay High School Teacher Gets Fired for Cussing Out Student
David Vinson was an openly gay high school teacher at Federal Way High School. At a Taco Time restaurant, he ran into a student that had apparently harassed him in the past. They called each other some naughty names and then both lied to a school investigator about it. At a disciplinary hearing to determine whether he could be fired, the hearing officer determined that his conduct did not rise to the level of a fire-able offense.
The Federal Way School District asked the superior court for review. The superior court denied the request for review and awarded attorneys fees to Mr. Vinson. The School District then asked the Court of Appeals to review the denial of review. The Court of Appeals agreed to do so and found that the conduct was so offensive as to justify termination.
A strongly worded dissent by Judge Dwyer stated that because the school district did not have a right to appeal the hearing examiner’s findings because the statute doesn’t allow it and because the case was moot, the court should not have heard the case. Mr. Vinson no longer objected to the termination and waived his attorneys fees. He is suing the school district civilly.
I don’t have a crystal ball or an “in” at the Supreme Court, but my money is on the Supreme Court taking a look at this case should the parties seek review. I can’t say who, for sure, but I suspect there are a few justices that would agree with Judge Dwyer.