David Mike appeals tribunal ruling upholding his JCPS terminatio - WDRB 41 Louisville News

David Mike appeals tribunal ruling upholding his JCPS termination to Jefferson Circuit Court

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Former Louisville Male High School principal David Mike has filed an appeal in Jefferson Circuit Court asking for a judicial review of last month's state tribunal decision that affirmed his termination.

In the petition, Mike's attorneys, William Walsh and Thomas Hectus, say they are appealing because "the findings of fact regarding his conduct relied upon to support the tribunal's conclusions of law do not constitute conduct unbecoming of a teacher."

Mike was fired by Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens in October for "conduct unbecoming of a teacher." He received his termination letter nearly a year after testing improprieties involving the ACT Compass Test were first alleged at Male High School.

Walsh and Hectus are also asking the court to allow additions to the official record that include "discovered evidence which was not available in time to request a new trial by tribunal and evidence addressing certain suppositions apparently made by the administrative tribunal."

Neither Walsh nor Hectus would elaborate on Monday about the appeal, other than to say that JCPS erred in firing Mike and that the tribunal erred in its decision to uphold the termination.

PREVIOUS STORY: Tribunal affirms JCPS firing of former Louisville Male High Principal David Mike

DOCUMENT: Read a copy of the tribunal's decision

In Kentucky, the contract of a teacher can only be terminated for four reasons: insubordination, immoral character or conduct unbecoming a teacher, physical or mental disability and inefficiency, or incompetency or neglect of duty (when a written statement identifying the problems or difficulties has been furnished to the teacher or teachers involved).

Under state law, any certified public school employee who is terminated, suspended without pay or publicly reprimanded has the right to appeal the superintendent's decision to a tribunal.

Mike's tribunal was held in December in public at his request.

The three-person tribunal -- none of whom live in Jefferson County -- said they got the sense that Mike was trying to gain praise by quickly raising test scores at Male. They recognized that Mike was trying to make "great changes" at the school, but ended up dividing the school and lowering its image.

During his testimony, Mike told the tribunal he did not help students cheat on the ACT Compass test. JCPS officials never accused him of helping students cheat, but stated that as principal of the school, he should have been aware of what was going on.

"David Mike did not know that those two tests were being administered simultaneously," attorney Will Walsh said during the tribunal. "No one complained to him about that. He did not know there was noise and confusion. I think that's another part of failure to ensure. He did not know. There's no evidence of that."

JCPS attorney Byron Leet didn't just say Mike knew, he also claimed Mike tried to cover it up.

"It's not credible that Mr. Mike did not know," Leet said during the tribunal.

Ultimately, the tribunal members agreed with JCPS, saying that "descriptions of the loud, chaotic, active atmosphere in Room 108 should have meant that Mike was aware that something was amiss as soon as he opened the door."

"It was not a conducive atmosphere for standardized testing," the report reads. "Logic and common sense should dictate that the two tests should not have been given at the same time."

Mike and two other former Male High staffers -- Debbie Greenberg and Rhonda Branch -- still face a proceeding before the Kentucky Educational Standards Board as a result of the Kentucky Department of Education's investigation into testing allegations.

The board, which controls teacher certifications, acts mostly in secret when handling disciplinary cases, so it's hard to determine where exactly the cases against the three educators stand.

Greenberg retired from the district in June, while a district investigation involving Branch released Dec. 10 found that she failed to ensure a proper testing environment and during the administration of the ACT Compass at Male.

As a result, Branch has been "directed to participate in a minimum of three hours of Administrative Code Training as recommended by KDE. She is also directed to participate in ethics training and adhere to all acceptable and appropriate assessment practices as outlined by the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education."

In addition, Branch was reassigned to another school counseling position as her "superiors feel that it is best for the learning and counseling environment at Louisville Male High School."

Unlike the state tribunal process, there isn't a specific timetable set for a judge to hear Mike's appeal and render a decision.

Mike made $141,000 as principal of Male. His attorneys are asking the judge to restore his contract with JCPS and grant him "other relief as may be appropriate."

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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