Just a Darn Minute, School Tells Commission
By REBEKAH KEARN
SACRAMENTO (CN) – The California Commission on Professional Competence ordered a school to rehire, with back pay, a P.E. teacher it suspended for biting a special education student and punching him in the face, the Sacramento school district claims in court.
Sacramento City Unified School District sued the Commission on Professional Competence and the teacher, Jerald Glaviano, in Superior Court. It seeks writ of mandate allowing it to fire Glaviano for good.
The Commission on Professional Competence is charged under the state Education Code with ruling on decisions involving teacher suspensions or terminations.
The district says it suspended Glaviano after he “assaulted a special education student during class-time without reasonable provocation” at C.K. McClatchy High School, on Jan. 29.
The 17-page lawsuit includes 35 pages of exhibits.
“During this time, Student AA, a special education student with a hearing impairment, and his classmate Student S, were involved in a verbal exchange and dispute which may have been escalating into shoving of Student S by Student AA,” the complaint states.
Glaviano yelled at the students to stop, then put himself between them.
“At this moment, or shortly thereafter, Student S moved away and was not in any danger,” the complaint states.
It continues: “Glaviano put his elbow against Student AA’s face or mouth, which Student AA moved out of the way. Then, without any reasonable provocation, Glaviano punched Student AA in the mouth with such force that it loosened Student AA’s tooth. In response to being punched in the mouth, Student AA proceeding [sic] to punch Glaviano and slam him against the fence, a fact that Student AA candidly told district administrators and a police officer. Sometime during the altercation, Glaviano bit Student AA on the arm, leaving a bloody wound.”
Immediately after the fight, Glaviano told an assistant principal, “I shouldn’t have hit him,” and said that he had “overreacted and punched [Student AA] in the face and that’s what [he] guess[ed] set the student off,'” according to the complaint. (Brackets in complaint.)
Student AA also spoke with an assistant principal, and “was candid in his description of the altercation,” but his statement was “not admitted into evidence at Glaviano’s subsequent disciplinary hearing” because his handwriting was so poor an administrator had to transcribe it, and it was deemed “administrative hearsay,” the complaint states.
The district’s witnesses included five school administrators, and it submitted Glaviano’s statements as evidence, but commission found in favor of Glaviano and ordered the district to reinstate him, with roughly 4 months back pay, according to the complaint.
The district claims the commission misapplied the “Morrison factors,” eight criteria that must be taken into consideration when determining if a teacher is fit to teach. “The three factors that were the most egregiously misapplied were: (1) Likelihood that the conduct may have adversely affected students or fellow teachers; (2) the extenuating or aggravating circumstances, if any, surrounding the conduct; and (3) the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of the motives resulting in the conduct,’ the complaint states.
The district claims the commission also ignored that Glaviano knew Student AA was hearing-impaired, and that the teacher assaulted him instead of threatening to discipline him for not obeying commands, which worked in previous incidents with Student AA.
“For any teacher to deliberately assault a special education student … reflects a severe lack of character and deficient judgment,” the complaint states. “Glaviano’s attempt to then shield himself from blame by fabricating a story that shifts one-hundred percent of the blame onto the special education student is not only immoral and unethical but disturbing.”
The district wants the commission ordered to vacate its decision and to dismiss Glaviano from “any and all employment” with the district, or in the alternative, placed on at least 180 days unpaid suspension for “his immoral conduct, evident unfitness for duty, and/or violation of board rules and regulations.”
The school district is represented by Gregory A. Wedner with Lozano Smith.
Glaviano defended his actions in an interview with Sacramento ABC News station KXTV, claiming that he bit Student AA to escape a choke hold.
“I had to bite him to get away and I wasn’t able to get away too far,” Glaviano told KXTV.
“He had his arm around my throat. He lifted me off the ground and if he wanted to, he is 6’2” and 220 pounds and I am 5’7′ 120 pounds; he could have thrown me onto the ground,” Glaviano said.