In Robinson v. Morrill County School District, No. S-17-16, (299 Neb. 740), the Supreme Court of Nebraska examined the merits of the termination.
In the fall of 2013, Patrick Robinson (“Robinson”) was hired as the curriculum and assessment coordinator at Bridgeport Public Schools pursuant to a contract with the Bridgeport Public Schools Board of Education (“School Board”). In February 2015, Robinson was notified his contract was being canceled. The School Board cited a couple of incidents as the reason behind Robinson’s firing.
In November 2013, the community held a Veterans Day celebration at the school on a non-school day. Part of a parking lot was reserved for veterans. Robinson, a veteran, came to the school that day to work and parked in the veteran’s parking area. A teacher asked him to move his car, explaining the intent was to reserve the parking spaces for older or disabled veterans who would have difficulty with mobility. Robinson became angry and refused to move. In December of that year, there were rumors that Robinson and a female student perhaps had an inappropriate relationship. After an investigation, no improper relationship was found.
Beginning in January 2014, Robinson started refusing to come out of his office at school to meet or interact with other staff members. Robinson was upset about the allegations and the administration’s response. Robinson stated that he considered his work environment hostile, because he never received an apology after the December 2013 incident and did not think he had been told he was cleared of any wrongdoing over the incident with the student. After further conflict, including a secret recording of the school superintendent by Robinson the School Board decided to terminate his contract. Robinson has appealed the termination.
Robinson claims the School Board violated his due process rights, protocol was not followed, that evidence of Robinson’s conduct was not properly accepted, that the School Board did not properly establish a lack of professionalism or subordination. The Court must examine whether error was made in the proceeding that led to the termination of Robinson and whether the School Board acted within its jurisdiction and whether there was sufficient evidence to terminate Robinson.
Robinson claimed he did not receive proper notice of the meeting to determine whether he would be terminated. The lower court disagreed. This Court agreed with the lower court that the method of notice was similar to the way the School Board had given notice over the previous two years.
Robinson also claimed there was insufficient evidence to terminate his contract. However, there was considerable evidence demonstrating his shortcomings. For example, he refused to attend meetings with staff and administration. He refused to leave his office. And he refused to work collaboratively with staff and administration on curriculum and testing issues. The record contains sufficient relevant evidence showing more than just occasional incompetence or neglect of a particular duty. On this record, the evidence of incompetency and neglect of duty was sufficient to support the board’s decision.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the board’s cancellation of Robinson’s contract.
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