(CN) – A Florida teacher was wrongfully fired for refusing to appear at a disciplinary hearing without a lawyer on 24 hours’ notice, a Florida appeals court ruled.
Mary Cropsey complained of discrimination when Principal Michael Rio decided to drop her and to recommend that she not be reassigned within the school system.
Rio summoned Cropsey to a meeting to discuss her alleged improprieties in administering the FCAT test. While Rio’s letter stated that Cropsey could bring representation to the meeting, her lawyer was informed that the principal meant union representation and not legal representation.
Cropsey refused to attend the meeting without an attorney. The school board voted to fire her, not because she had violated testing procedure but because she had refused to attend the meeting.
Judge Altenbernd of the Lakeland-based 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that the important issue is whether Cropsey committed an act of “gross insubordination” or “willful neglect.”
“Ms. Cropsey, on very short notice, followed the reasonable advice of her attorney,” Alterbernd wrote. “We therefore conclude that there is no competent, substantial evidence supporting the school board’s ruling.”
The judge also ordered the school board to pay Cropsey for the remainder of her 2006-07 contract.