GHS band teacher, Mr. John Yoon is fighting to keep his job.
The longtime band teacher, who has been out on paid administrative leave since April has requested that a series of upcoming hearings be open to the public.
On Wednesday afternoon, Daniel Young, of Wofsey, Rosen and Keskin in Stamford, the attorney representing John Yoon, said the hearings are scheduled to begin this month and will take place in the Board of Education meeting room in the Havemeyer building.
The hearings will all be held at 10:30am and are scheduled for July 14, July 15, Aug 10, Aug 31, Sept 1 and Sept 9, though Mr. Yoon, according to his attorney, is very disappointed that the hearings cut into the school year.
“He very much wanted the hearings to take place over the summer so that he can be back in time for the school year,” Mr. Young said.
The arbitrator for the hearings is M. Jackson Webber ,who goes by Marty Webber, a lawyer and experienced mediator and arbitrator. “We selected him together, the town and me on behalf of John,” Young said.
The hearings are governed by the Connecticut General Statutes 10-151(d).* Under the statute the school district first has the obligation to come forward with the evidence they believe supports termination. Subsection 6 says you can terminate a teacher for “due and sufficient cause.”
The way the hearing works is that the hearing officer shall submit written findings. The hearing officer is technically making a recommendation to the board. The BOE has 15 days after it receives the recommendation to decide what to do.
“John has received a tremendous amount of support. Former students writing in, and parents, and current students. It’s been an overwhelming amount of support that I think shows what an incredible teacher he is, and how much he cares about his students and how much they care about him as a result,” Mr. Young said.
“It’s more than one man keeping his job. It’s a question, “Is Greenwich a place where a teacher can set a high standard of excellence and impose reasonable and fair discipline of students?” Mr. Young asked.
“When all the facts come out it will be determined that John acted fairly and professionally,” Mr. Young said.
Under the statute there is an obligation to prove sufficient cause to terminate Mr. Yoon. “They have the burden of proof,” Mr. Young said. When they are done, Mr. Young will have the opportunity to cross examine their witnesses. Mr. Yoon has right to due process and a fair hearing before being terminated. These hearings will result in a decision about whether he will indeed be terminated.
Mr. Yoon and his attorney Mr. Young requested a hearing by letter dated June 19. Then the clock started ticking to find an arbitrator and they chose Mr. Webber. After the hearings, the hearing officer will submit his written findings. The hearing officer is technically making a recommendation to the Board of Education, which in turn has 15 days after it receives the recommendation to make a decision.
Mr. Young said he and Mr. Yoon are optimistic.
“We believe John has acted professionally and appropriately and we think what’s best for Greenwich School system and for all the children is that John be returned and that the same standard apply to everyone. A teacher is entitled to maintain discipline, and it is a professional teacher who cares about his students maintains discipline in order to be a good teacher. I think that’s exactly what happened here.” – Daniel Young, of Wofsey, Rosen and Keskin in Stamford
In the meantime,the Facebook group “Bring Back Mr. Yoon 2015” is up to over 500 members.
This week Mr. Yoon began his summer job teaching the Town of Greenwich band camp at Central Middle School. The camp is run through the town’s Parks & Rec Department.
*CT General Statutes 10-151(d) follows. Text in bold is referenced in this article.
10-151(d) The contract of employment of a teacher who has attained tenure shall be continued from school year to school year, except that it may be terminated at any time for one or more of the following reasons: (1) Inefficiency or incompetence, provided, if a teacher is notified on or after July 1, 2000, that termination is under consideration due to incompetence, the determination of incompetence is based on evaluation of the teacher using teacher evaluation guidelines established pursuant to section 10-151b; (2) insubordination against reasonable rules of the board of education; (3) moral misconduct; (4) disability, as shown by competent medical evidence; (5) elimination of the position to which the teacher was appointed or loss of a position to another teacher, if no other position exists to which such teacher may be appointed if qualified, provided such teacher, if qualified, shall be appointed to a position held by a teacher who has not attained tenure, and provided further that determination of the individual contract or contracts of employment to be terminated shall be made in accordance with either (A) a provision for a layoff procedure agreed upon by the board of education and the exclusive employees’ representative organization, or (B) in the absence of such agreement, a written policy of the board of education; or (6) other due and sufficient cause. Nothing in this section or in any other section of the general statutes or of any special act shall preclude a board of education from making an agreement with an exclusive bargaining representative which contains a recall provision. Prior to terminating a contract, the superintendent shall give the teacher concerned a written notice that termination of such teacher’s contract is under consideration and, upon written request filed by such teacher with the superintendent, within seven days after receipt of such notice, shall within the next succeeding seven days give such teacher a statement in writing of the reasons therefor. Within twenty days after receipt of written notice by the superintendent that contract termination is under consideration, such teacher may file with the local or regional board of education a written request for a hearing. A board of education may designate a subcommittee of three or more board members to conduct hearings and submit written findings and recommendations to the board for final disposition in the case of teachers whose contracts are terminated. Such hearing shall commence within fifteen days after receipt of such request, unless the parties mutually agree to an extension, not to exceed fifteen days (A) before the board of education or a subcommittee of the board, (B) if indicated in such request or if designated by the board before an impartial hearing panel, or (C) if the parties mutually agree, before a single impartial hearing officer chosen by the teacher and the superintendent. If the parties are unable to agree upon the choice of a hearing officer within five days after their decision to use a hearing officer, the hearing shall be held before the board or panel, as the case may be. The impartial hearing panel shall consist of three members appointed as follows: The superintendent shall appoint one panel member, the teacher shall appoint one panel member, and those two panel members shall choose a third, who shall serve as chairperson. If the two panel members are unable to agree upon the choice of a third panel member within five days after the decision to use a hearing panel, the third panel member shall be selected with the assistance of the American Arbitration Association using its expedited selection process and in accordance with its rules for selection of a neutral arbitrator in grievance arbitration. If the third panel member is not selected with the assistance of such association within five days, the hearing shall be held before the board of education or a subcommittee of the board. Within seventy-five days after receipt of the request for a hearing, the impartial hearing panel, subcommittee of the board or hearing officer, unless the parties mutually agree to an extension not to exceed fifteen days, shall submit written findings and a recommendation to the board of education as to the disposition of the charges against the teacher and shall send a copy of such findings and recommendation to the teacher. The board of education shall give the teacher concerned its written decision within fifteen days of receipt of the written recommendation of the impartial hearing panel, subcommittee or hearing officer. Each party shall pay the fee of the panel member selected by it and shall share equally the fee of the third panel member or hearing officer and all other costs incidental to the hearing. If the hearing is before the board of education, the board shall render its decision within fifteen days after the close of such hearing and shall send a copy of its decision to the teacher. The hearing shall be public if the teacher so requests or the board, subcommittee, hearing officer or panel so designates. The teacher concerned shall have the right to appear with counsel at the hearing, whether public or private. A copy of a transcript of the proceedings of the hearing shall be furnished by the board of education, upon written request by the teacher within fifteen days after the board’s decision, provided the teacher shall assume the cost of any such copy. Nothing herein contained shall deprive a board of education or superintendent of the power to suspend a teacher from duty immediately when serious misconduct is charged without prejudice to the rights of the teacher as otherwise provided in this section.