Firing Was Proper for Kicking Kindergartener

     (CN) – A New York City teacher was properly fired for kicking a special-needs kindergartener and trying to keep other students quiet about it, an appeals court ruled.
     A hearing officer for the New York City Department of Education decided to terminate the employment of Diana Haas after finding that she had engaged in the corporal punishment of a kindergarten student and directed students who witnessed the incident not to discuss what they had observed.
     In May 2012, a judge for the Manhattan Supreme Court vacated the penalty and remanded the matter to a different hearing officer for redetermination of the penalty “on the basis of the administrative record, taking no account of any evidence that petitioner sought to enlist the aid of her co-workers in relation to covering up the conduct charged in specification one.”
     The Appellate Division’s First Department New York reinstated Haas’ termination last week, crediting evidence that she pulled the chair out from under a student, kicked him and then told her students not to tell what they had seen.
     Haas furthermore did not object to testimony about her attempt to get co-workers to cover up her actions, according to the unsigned ruling.
     “In any event, petitioner’s argument that she was denied due process because the hearing officer’s decision to terminate her employment was based upon evidence of wrongdoing that was not charged is unavailing, since the hearing officer expressly based the penalty upon the charged misconduct,” the five-judge panel wrote.
     “Moreover, the penalty of termination does not shock one’s sense of fairness, in light of petitioner’s egregious misconduct of kicking a kindergarten student with special needs and then directing her other impressionable students not to discuss what they had observed,” they added. “The record further shows that petitioner showed a lack of remorse for her actions.”

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