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A Better Partnership
November 14, 2013

COA affirms decision to discharge teacher for drug and alcohol use

In Cona v. Avondale School District, a social studies teacher appealed the State Tenure Commission’s (Commission) decision to discharge him after he was convicted of driving while impaired, violated the terms of his probation by using drugs and alcohol, missed 17 days of work as a result of his incarceration, and provided false reasons for his absence. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the Commission acted properly when it: (1) heard evidence of the teacher’s marijuana use and substance abuse at his hearing even though the school did not charge the teacher with these allegations when it filed tenure charges against him; (2) excluded evidence of settlement negotiations between the teacher and the school under MRE 408; and (3) determined that the teacher’s conduct had an adverse effect on the school community.

Finally, the Court held that the applicable standard for determining whether the discharge was appropriate under MCL 38.101 was a “not arbitrary or capricious” standard. Here, the decision to discharge the teacher was not arbitrary or capricious because it was supported by sufficient evidence that his conduct generally affected his ability to continue serving as a teacher.

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