CINCINNATI (CN) - Ohio enacted unconstitutional, ex post facto laws that require public schools to fire employees with drug or felonious assault convictions, no matter how far in the past, and the laws fall disproportionately upon black employees, two fired workers claim in Federal Court.
A 30-year employee of the Cincinnati Public Schools was fired for an incident that happened in 1977, and an 18-year employee was fired for "acting as a go-between" in the sale of a nickel bag of pot in 1983.
Plaintiffs Gregory I. Waldon and Eartha Britton, both longtime employees of defendant Cincinnati Public Schools, challenge Ohio's HB 190, which took effect in November 2007, and HB 428, which took effect in September 2008.
Cincinnati Public Schools fired Waldon late last year for a 1977 conviction for aggravated assault, though he had an excellent record for 30 years at CPS.
The school fired Britton after 18 years, also late last year, because the state law demands it. She says she was convicted in 1983 "of acting as a go-between in the purchase and sale of $5 of marijuana. This conviction was expunged in 2000. ... She has no other criminal convictions or arrests." The conviction came before she was hired by CPS.
Under HB 190 and 248, "Any current employee who has a conviction of certain enumerated offenses must be released from employment without any regard for the time that has passed since the conviction for the life that the employee has lived following the conviction," the complaint states. "This legislative scheme and the rule of ODE (the defendant Ohio Department of Education) fall disproportionately on African American employees of Ohio school districts; that is, a far larger percentage of African American employees of Ohio school districts have been terminated under the new legislation and rule than the percentage of non-African American employees."
The plaintiffs say the state laws deny them due process, deny them equal protection, and are unconstitutional ex post facto laws. They are represented in Federal Court by David Mann.
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