Assistant principal fired by JCPS files appeal, wants his job back
The former assistant principal at Ramsey Middle School who was fired by JCPS on Jan. 10 has appealed his termination.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The former assistant principal at Ramsey Middle School who was fired by Jefferson County Public Schools on Jan. 10 has appealed his termination.
Ronald Anthony Johnson, through his attorney Will Walsh, submitted a letter to Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt on Friday, stating he intends to answer the charges against him and that he is requesting that a tribunal be appointed to conduct an administrative hearing.
Jennifer Brislin, spokeswoman for Jefferson County Public Schools, told WDRB News on Jan. 12 that Johnson was terminated for "insubordination, conduct unbecoming a teacher, inefficiency, incompetency and neglect of duty."
However, Walsh says that Johnson was not notified by the district of his firing until Jan. 17, five days after the news media reported it.
Johnson was part of a district investigation into the mistreatment of students and adult misconduct from when he was previously assigned to the district's now shuttered alternative middle school. He is one of about a dozen current or former employees being investigated as it relates to adult misconduct involving student injuries alleged to have occurred over the past decade.
He had been reassigned to one of the district's bus compounds in September amid the district's investigation, which Walsh says the district could not substantiate.
Initially, district officials said they sent Johnson a certified letter notifying him of his termination on Jan. 10, and that they had received a copy of a return receipt with Johnson's signature on it.
A copy of the return receipt, obtained by WDRB News through an open records request, has the Jan. 11 date stamped on it, but the district would not provide a copy of the letter that was attached to the return receipt, saying it was preliminary.
However, Brislin told WDRB on Friday that the return receipt the district received on Jan. 11 was actually from a Dec. 21 letter containing a demotion offer JCPS sent to Johnson. He just didn't pick it up and sign for that letter until Jan. 11, she said.
"We sent him two 300-page copies of his termination letter on Jan. 10, one was sent certified and the other was send regular mail," Brislin said. "When they got the return receipt on the 11th, they assumed it was for the letter we sent on the 10th."
Brislin said as of Friday, Johnson had not signed for the certified copy of the termination letter and it had no way of knowing whether he had received the letter sent through regular mail.
Walsh confirmed to WDRB on Friday that Johnson received the letter in the regular mail on Jan. 17 when he found it sitting on his front porch.
JCPS declined an open records request filed by the station for Johnson's termination letter and the Dec. 21 letter, saying that both documents are considered preliminary and not available to the public.
The Dec. 21 letter sent to Johnson, provided to WDRB by Walsh, is from O'Dell Henderson, the district's director of labor management and employee relations.
In that letter, "JCPS references instances in which allegations regarding mistreatment of students which were not substantiated were made against my client," Walsh said in a letter he sent to Superintendent Donna Hargens on Jan. 13.
"With apparent indifference to whether or not Anthony had, in reality, done anything wrong, Mr. Henderson says that because unsubstantiated allegations were made by my client, he must accept a demotion and reassignment or face disciplinary action," Walsh writes. "Since Anthony had not done what was alleged, he could not in good conscious agree to accept even a suspension of three days, which was offered by JCPS regarding this case against him."
According to the JCPS salary database, Johnson made $105,000 as an assistant principal.
In his letter to Hargens, Walsh also questioned why "unsubstantiated allegations from years past were re-investigated, presumably to see whether the prior findings in his favor might be altered."
"As yet, I am unaware pursuant to what authority or conception of fair play or justice this re-investigation of my client might have preceeded," Walsh said. "It is obviously offensive to ideals of due process that a person once investigated and cleared might be again be subjected to scrutiny regarding the same matter or matters years later."
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. The panel consists of an active or retired teacher, an administrator and a lay person -- none of whom reside in the county involved in the dispute.
During a tribunal hearing, both sides subpoena witnesses to testify and who are subject to cross-examination by the other side. Each side also introduces exhibits to prove their case.
The tribunal panel then has five days to render a decision with a majority vote. The decision is binding and may be appealed to circuit court by either party.
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