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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Legal Roundup - WA State Supreme Court: No appeal of hearing for school district. Must read for teachers!

Federal Way Sch. Dist. v. Vinson

When a teacher loses a dispute in this state at the level of administrative hearing, they have the ability to appeal to the court. A lot of this is rooted in the fact that the license carries with it the ability to work. Any law student who has taken constitutional law can tell you that (due process, people). In Washington, its also governed by statute.

The statute doesn't provide a right of appeal to the school districts if the hearing officer finds for the teacher, a fact which has been just affirmed by our supreme court:

We hold that the statutory writ, an extraordinary remedy, is not available to the school district. In contrast, the constitutional writ is always available to a party seeking relief from arbitrary, capricious, or illegal acts. The hearing officer acted within the limits of his statutory authority, and his final decision was not arbitrary or capricious. We reverse the Court of Appeals and reinstate the attorney fees awarded by the superior court.

The court of appeals reasoning below basically held that a teacher could be fired for doing anything not work related during the school day, even if at lunch:

The Court of Appeals first deviated from our stated rule in Clarke in Sauter v. Mount Vernon School District No. 320, 58 Wn. App. 121, 791 P.2d 549 (1990). Relying on Pryse and Potter,[17] the Sauter court eliminated the remediability prong of the second Clarke test. Sauter, 58 Wn. App. at 130-31. The Sauter test — sufficient cause for a teacher's discharge exists as a matter of law where the teacher's deficiency is (1) irremediable and materially and substantially affects the teacher's performance or (2) lacks any positive educational aspect or legitimate professional purpose — eradicated the significant protections previously afforded teachers by the sufficient cause standard.[18] Under the Sauter test, any misconduct will be grounds for discharge because, by definition, misconduct is behavior that "lacks any positive educational aspect or legitimate professional purpose." Id. at 130.

The ramifications of the modified-Clarke rule are glaringly apparent in Vinson. The Clarke rule as modified by Vinson holds that any time a teacher, in the course of his job, engages in conduct lacking any "professional purpose," that teacher may be discharged. Vinson, 154 Wn. App. at 230. This creates a per se rule of discharge under which any school-day lapse, no matter how minor and no matter the context, will always constitute sufficient cause for the teacher's discharge. Essentially, the Vinson court, relying on Sauter, removes the required nexus between alleged teacher misconduct or deficiency and teaching performance. We reject this alteration of our Clarke rule. The nexus requirement finds root in the constitution. See, e.g., Hoagland, 95 Wn.2d at 429 ("[I]t would violate due process to discharge a teacher without showing actual impairment to performance.").

Sufficient cause may be found as a matter of law, without applying the Clarke test or Hoagland factors, in only the most egregious cases. We hold that where a teacher engages in sexually exploitive conduct or physical abuse of a student, sufficient cause is established as a matter of law; the Clarke test and Hoagland factors (if applicable, see Clarke, 106 Wn.2d at 114) must be applied in all nonflagrant instances of misconduct.

So basically, because the conduct of the teacher on his lunch (shouting match with a former student, who was harassing him because of gender identity) had nothing to do with his ability to teach, he gets to keep his job.

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