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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Indiana Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Jeffrey Hewitt v. Westfield Washington School Corporation, et al., a 15-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:

This case involves termination of an elementary school principal after the school board learned that the principal had been involved in a sexual relationship with a teacher, one of his subordinates. At issue is whether the school board provided the principal with appropriate process when it terminated his employment as an administrator. In a case of first impression, we hold that the teacher’s termination statute, found at Indiana Code § 20-28-7.5-1 et seq., does not apply to termination of an administrator when his underlying teaching contract is not being terminated. We further hold that the provisions in the form teacher’s contract that make reference to an opportunity for hearing and a just cause determination also apply only to the termination of an administrator’s underlying teaching contract. Under the facts and circumstances of this case, the principal was given sufficient notice and an opportunity to be heard. * * *

We hold that when a school corporation seeks to terminate a principal’s administrator’s contract only and not his underlying teacher’s contract, it does not need to provide the hearing process described in the teacher’s termination statute. We further hold that the language in Hewitt’s form teacher’s contract referring to a hearing with the benefit of counsel and a just cause determination also applies only to Hewitt’s underlying teacher’s contract and not his administrator’s contract. Finally, we hold that under the facts of this case, Hewitt received constitutional due process. We therefore affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the School.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 15, 2015 03:47 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions