(CN) – A West Virginia high school teacher cannot collect more than a quarter-million dollars in damages from a school board that fired him for unproven allegations of sexual misconduct, a state appeals court ruled.
Robert Fulmer began teaching math at Nitro High School in 1999. He was fired in 2005 after a student working as a classroom aide said Fulmer made sexual advances toward her and another classmate.
Between 2005 and 2007, Fulmer earning $58,000 working in a tobacco store called Smoker Friendly.
A grievance board ruled in 2008 that Fulmer should not have been fired because the Kanawha Board of Education did not prove his guilt and because his accusers lacked credibility.
Fulmer renewed his teaching certificate and was reinstated near the end of 2008. After he asked the court for a writ of mandamus for damages, the court awarded Fulmer $259,567, plus expenses and attorneys’ fees.
The school board asked the court to amend the judgment, arguing that Fulmer’s wages from Smoker Friendly should be deducted from the award. The board also ruled that Fulmer should also not receive money to cover the six-week period when his teaching certificate had expired.
The trial court disagreed with the school board, but the West Virginia Supreme Court reversed last week, ordering a recalculation of damages.
“In concluding that Mr. Fulmer had a clear legal right to relief, the circuit court erroneously found that the board had failed to raise the issue of mitigation with the administrative law judge,” the unsigned decision states.