A Bowling Green High School teacher’s contract has been officially terminated after a series of hearings on accusations of insubordination and violation of the district’s code of conduct.
The Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education, without comment, approved a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting, finding “good and just cause for termination of (Dallas) Black’s contract of employment as recommended by the Referee’s Report.”
Black has said he may appeal.
The board in July had unanimously approved the immediate suspension of Black without pay or benefits, pending termination proceedings.
Black taught Spanish at BGHS for 18 years,
The termination was based on the following, as outlined in the report filed by Lee Belardo, who served as referee during the hearing:
Black left work early after the first period without proper approval (twice); attempted to use personal leave in violation of the terms of the collective bargaining unit or district procedures (four times); sent an email in violation of board policy which states emails should be used to conduct official business and communicating with colleagues, students, parents and community members (six times); sent an email that disparaged district administration and district employees (four times); sent an email in violation of a directive from the superintendent (once); sent an email that included the names of students and their personal information without parental approval in violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (twice); engaged in acts of insubordination (once); and engaged in acts unbecoming a teacher (three times).
In his post-hearing brief, Black said his 1st Amendment rights had been violated.
Belardo wrote in his report that the First Amendment does not provide blanket protection for deliberate and reckless falsehoods, or hostile and accusatory emails directed toward school district officials.
In July, Black said that on the days he left work, he made sure a substitute was in the classroom first. He said district officials set a trap regarding the days he took that allegedly violated the collective bargaining unit. Black said that when he asked for days off and was told the district’s cap for teacher days off had been reached, those days were never removed from the system.
As for the FERPA claims, Black said he asked two students to send him an email summing up their experiences with credit flexibility he offered his Spanish students. He said he had their permission to share their emails.
FERPA is supposed to prevent a teacher from divulging a student’s record.
The referee provided his report to the board on June 13.
Black said in a telephone conversation earlier this week that the referee had “rubberstamped everything the district had suggested.”
He was not allowed to play a recording of that would have proven an administrator had perjured himself on the witness stand, as there was an objection based on lack of foundation, ie, how the recording was made, chain of custody and proof it had not been altered.
Typically, when a lawyer objects, the defendant has a brief window to respond, Black said.
The referee sustained the objection and years of audio recordings he has been referencing for months were not heard, Black said.
“If I had a lawyer to warn me about the foundation or if the referee had been more fair, they didn’t give me the opportunity to go back under oath” after he read up on the foundation laws, he said.
Black said he didn’t have an attorney because he didn’t think he needed one.
According to the report, the hearing lasted nine days and on the ninth day Black chose not to attend. His presence was not required. On that day, several witnesses subpoenaed by Black were called to the witness stand and were questioned by the district’s attorney.
The hearing concluded as Black indicated by email he would not attend the three additional days that had been scheduled, according to the report.
Black said district employees were questioned and he wasn’t given the opportunity for cross examination, and the referee objected to the most damning evidence he had. He said the referee also did not answer a single email Black sent and was underinformed with case law.
“I never had a chance to bring my other witnesses and my most significant evidence was disqualified by the district’s lawyer when I was not there,” he said.
“It is so lopsided there is nothing that I do right, including the 18 years in the district with telling the truth,” he said.
“Mr. Black was afforded his due process (as outlined in) the Ohio Revised Code, ”said District Superintendent Francis Scruci.
Belardo, the referee, was agreed upon by both parties from a recommendation list provided by the Ohio Department of Education, he said.
Belardo heard all the testimony and made a decision, and the board accepted his recommendation, Scruci said.