• 64°

Teachers at career center reinstated

The court ordered five Collins Career Center teachers reinstated Thursday, the latest action on two lawsuits filed after the school’s board enacted layoffs in November.

Friday, January 18, 2002

The court ordered five Collins Career Center teachers reinstated Thursday, the latest action on two lawsuits filed after the school’s board enacted layoffs in November.

At least three layoffs, blamed by the board on shrinking enrollment and funding, were upheld by the court.

The decision indicated that the board could only lay off teachers from programs that suffered enrollment decreases within those programs.

"We still maintain the board followed the contract and we don’t know whether the decision considered whether the contract or statute should apply," said attorney J. Rick Brown, representing the board.

Brown said Thursday he had not had an opportunity to discuss the judgment with his client, but whether or not further action is necessary will be explored.

Both the board, as defendants, and the plaintiff union can appeal the decision.

Harold Henderson, president of the vocational school teachers’ union that sought the injunction, said in a prepared statement that although the union would have liked to see all teachers returned members are "delighted" to have secured five positions.

"We are pleased with the time and consideration the judge has given to this case," he said.

The lawsuits filed in December – Janice J. Wolfe vs. the Board of Education of the Lawrence County Joint Vocational School (LCJVS) and Lawrence County Vocational Teachers Association vs. LCJVS Board of Education, according to court records – prompted a temporary restraining order at first.

During a January hearing, attorneys agreed to consolidate the cases and asked for a judgment on a permanent injunction as well.

Union attorneys cited statutes, claiming layoffs were not allowed for the reasons given and that the district had enough money to support the teachers. Attorney John Wolfe argued that his client, Jan Wolfe, had suffered a breach of contract.

In the board’s defense, Brown argued that loss of enrollment and program specific dollars (specific grants were cited) grants, led to reasonable staff reductions.

Thursday afternoon, Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton ordered the claims of Gwen Adkins, Daniel French and Kim Holliday denied, because the actions of the board of education complied with state law and union contract.

But, the judge also ordered the board to reinstate teachers Susan Helo, Amy McCloud and Matthew Monteville; and restrained from terminating or suspending the contracts of teacher Charmaine Gore and GRADS coordinator Jan Wolfe

Layoffs affecting them were "not in compliance with said statute and contract," the judge ruled.

"There being no decline in enrollment and loss of program-specific state or federal funds this year, the defendant school board’s actions affecting the positions of Helo, McCloud and Monteville failed to comply with RC 3319.17 and the union contract," Judge Walton wrote.

"Although the bumping of Wolfe by Harrison is proper under the contract under which the parties were acting, the elimination of the Harrison program was not proper since there was no loss of program-specific state or federal funding and there was no decline in that program."

There was no decline in the GRADS program, so the original reduction and bump by former plaintiff Meyers of science teacher Charmaine Gore "was not proper," he wrote.