Ruling: Fired D.C. Teachers Must Be Offered Jobs, Back Wages
(Washington Examiner) — The first 75 teachers who former Chancellor Michelle Rhee fired must be given about $7.5 million in back wages and offered positions with D.C. Public Schools, an arbitrator ruled. “The [termination] process used in this case was so devoid of due process as to be arbitrary and capricious,” arbitrator Charles Feigenbaum said in his verdict favoring the Washington Teachers’ Union, which has been fighting D.C. Public Schools officials over the July 2008 dismissals for more than two years. Rhee fired 75 first- and second-year teachers after asking principals to recommend recent hires for dismissal. D.C. Public Schools officials told teachers that they couldn’t appeal because they had yet to earn tenure, but did not disclose the reasons for their dismissals. Feigenbaum, who was mutually chosen by the union and the school system, ordered D.C. Public Schools to make a 60-day “good faith effort” to locate the 75 teachers, offer them reinstatement and make up two years of paychecks. “We have an important decision that shows you what termination was like during the Rhee-Fenty administration: It was wrong,” union President Nathan Saunders said. Saunders estimated that with an average annual salary of $50,000, each teacher would cash in on $100,000 — costing the government-run school system $7.5 million while the city faces a $545 million deficit in fiscal 2012.