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School Officer Can Be|Fired for 1976 Crime

(CN) - The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the firing of a school hearing officer after a background check revealed that he had been convicted of drug trafficking in 1976.

John Doe's record was expunged in 1997, and he started working for the Cincinnati school system that year as a drug-free school specialist. He moved to the hearing-officer position in 2002.

Beginning in 2008, Doe's position required a background check for state certification. The check revealed the drug conviction, for which Doe served three years in prison.

Doe filed suit in 2009, claiming his firing violated the state Constitution's retroactivity clause, the U.S. Constitution's ex-post-facto clause, and both Constitutions' contracts clauses.

The state lawsuit moved to a federal judge, who asked the Ohio Supreme Court for its opinion on state law.

Justice Robert Cupp ruled that Doe's firing did not violate his rights under the Ohio Constitution.

"Passing a statutorily mandated background check is necessary 'state certification' and is therefore a condition that must be met before obligations in the contract become effective," Cupp wrote.

"In recognition of this condition precedent, all prior and current versions of the background-check legislation permit an employee to be conditionally employed until the results of the background check are obtained," he added.

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