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Legal Meaning of "Teacher" Disputed in Superintendent's Termination

by Joseph C. Maya on Apr. 21, 2017

Other Education Employment Employment  Wrongful Termination 

Summary: Blog post about a former assistant superintendent suing Hartford Public Schools for wrongful termination by claiming she was a teacher with tenure who was not given the proper hearing before being fired.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

In the case of Cimochowski v. Hartford Public Schools, an assistant superintendent filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut against a public school, city, and others, for wrongful termination. Both parties moved for summary judgment. In law, summary judgment is a preemptive decision by the court in favor of one party over the other. It is predicated on the claim that the case lacks any actual dispute of material fact, and can therefore be determined by the court without need for trial.

The assistant superintendent presided over support programs/services in the city's public school system. She was terminated from her position. The assistant superintendent claimed status as a teacher under the Connecticut Teacher Tenure Act. The assistant superintendent contended that as a tenured teacher under the Act she had a property right in her employment and was terminated from her employment without being afforded the procedures contained in the Act. The public school system and the city claimed that the assistant superintendent, as an assistant superintendent, did not qualify as a teacher under the Act because the position of assistant superintendent was a high-level management position, equal to the heightened rank of superintendent. The supreme court found that the assistant superintendent was a teacher as that term was defined by state lawmakers. Therefore, the assistant superintendent was a tenured teacher under the Act and the procedures for termination under the Act applied.

Therefore, the certified question was answered "yes," assistant superintendents were teachers for purposes of tenure. Judgment was therefore granted in favor of the assistant superintendent.

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.

Source: Cimochowski v. Hartford Pub. Schs., 261 Conn. 287, 802 A.2d 800, 2002 Conn. LEXIS 320 (Conn. 2002)

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