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Union sues Fairland board

ROME TOWNSHIP — A Fairland Middle School teacher is claiming a breach of contract with the Fairland Board of Education after the board refused to transfer her to a position she sought.

In a complaint filed in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court on Dec. 23, 2009, Romain Ball alleges the board has violated the master agreement held between it and the Fairland Association of Classroom Teachers, which has brought the legal action.

Ball has 32-years of teaching experience with a certificate allowing her to teach students from kindergarten to eighth grade, multi-subject, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 20, 2009, Ball sought the position of health teacher at the middle school, where she worked.

The section of the master agreement that governs the transfer and promotion of teachers states “Vacancies shall be filled on the basis of experience, competency, qualifications of the applicant, length of service in the district and other relevant factors. An applicant with less service in the district shall not be awarded the position unless his qualifications shall be deemed better by the superintendent,” according to the complaint.

When Ball was not chosen to be health teacher and a teacher outside the bargaining unit was, a grievance was filed by the teachers association on April 13, 2009.

“The grievance was denied at each step of the grievance process,” the complaint says. Then on May 11, 2009, the board of education denied the grievance.

A letter was sent by Fairland District Superintendent Jerry McConnell stating, “It is the opinion of the board that the proper certification is necessary in order to teach health in the middle school. The proper certification is a health certificate and your 1-8 certificate is not appropriate for the position,” the complaint states.

According to the school board minutes of that meeting board members Rusty Leep and Lester Brumfield voted against hiring the candidate who now has the post.

Brumfield, who went off the board in December, said he questioned whether the state required a health certificate for the post.

“There was a little bit of difference on how it was worded with the state … if you had a health certificate,” Brumfield said. “It wasn’t plainly stated. It is worded, but in my words it is not clear. And you get someone in the building and you go over them, if it not pretty clearly stated.”

The lawsuit demands that Ball be placed in the health teacher position and provide relief.

Phone messages left for Ball and McConnell at their offices were not returned by press time.