Bowling Green City Schools has suspended a teacher that has been with the district nearly 20 years.
The board at its meeting Tuesday unanimously approved the immediate suspension of Dallas Black, without pay or benefits, pending termination proceedings.
Black said he will fight the suspension.
“I’m going to continue to fight the good fight. I’m not going to compromise my principles,” he said in a Wednesday interview.
Black was hired by the district around 2003, said human relations Administrator Dawn Dazell, and has taught Spanish at the high school, according to the district website.
The resolution states that certain allegations concerning Black’s conduct had come to the board’s attention and they believed that conduct constituted grounds for termination and that the character charges against him warranted his suspension pending termination.
The resolution states Black engaged in conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession in violation of four principles in the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators. Those principles were professional behavior, accurate reporting, confidentiality, and appropriate and responsible use of technology.
Those four main violations stem from multiple actions Black took from May 12 to June 3 of this year.
The resolution listed 24 charges, and each was a separate ground for termination.
He is accused of leaving 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 e-mail in violation of board policy which states e-mails should be used to conduct official business and communicating with colleagues, students, parents and community members (six times); sent an e-mail that disparaged district administration and district employees (four); sent an e-mail in violation of a directive from the superintendent (one); and sent an email that included the names of students and their personal information in violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (twice).
Black said he plans to fight the suspension.
“I don’t think that’s going to qualify for a good and just cause,” he said about the list of accusations.
Black was given the opportunity to appear at pre-disciplinary hearings in order to refute the charges and show cause why his teaching contract should not be suspended or terminated.
Superintendent Francis Scruci would not confirm Black appeared, citing personnel confidentiality.
Black said he did attend at least one pre-disciplinary hearing.
“He’s been threatening that for three or four years,” said Black, referring to Scruci. Black spoke on Wednesday from Michigan, where he was vacationing with his family.
“I didn’t think he was actually going to go through with it.”
At the time, Black said he wondered what he had done to warrant the threat of termination.
“The superintendent’s harassment and bullying is mind-boggling, in violation of board policies,” he said.
Black said he found a series of questions that must be answered before a public school employee can be terminated. He sent them to the board in answer to the threat of termination.
Black has led the First Amendment Club at the high school for 15 years and said that he has read a lot of case law and Ohio Revised Code.
He said that on the days he left work, he made sure a substitute was in the classroom first and said the district set a trap regarding the days he took that allegedly violated the collective bargaining unit. Black said that he asked for days off and was told the district’s cap for teacher days off had been reached, but those days were never removed from the system.
“Teachers are supposed to take the high road and lead by example. Administrators are supposed to, too,” he said.
“If administration was interested in making sure I followed procedure, they could have canceled those days,” Black said.
As for the FERPA claims, he 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.
“I’m exposing what I saw in the experience” with these students, Black said. “Any time you mention a student in an e-mail, it’s not a FERPA violation unless you’re Francis Scruci.”
Scruci declined to comment.
“This is a personnel matter and as a district we don’t discuss the discipline or accusations of employees,” Scruci said Wednesday morning.
Black said that he was escorted out of the high school on the last day for seniors, while his Spanish 4 students were taking a test.
He spoke of the bullying and cowardly tactics used by high school administrators that day in an e-mail to board members.
“I stand behind every single word I have written or said,” Black said, adding that he is supposed to be under a gag order.
Board President Norm Geer would not comment on the action, which was taken at Tuesday’s meeting, right before the board adjourned.
The board met for a three-hour executive session on Monday to consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee.
Scruci neither denied nor confirmed Black’s employment was the topic of that meeting, citing school board regulations against publicizing what is discussed in executive session.
Black said there are constitutional, due process and First Amendment issues that need to be defended, as well as the attack on his character.
“I’m going to fight with the public record. I’m ready for this to come to a head,” he said. “If I lose, I haven’t lost my principles. I stand behind every single word.”