Osborne v. Bullitt County Bd. of Ed.

Citation415 S.W.2d 607
PartiesElvin C. OSBORNE, Appellant, v. BULLITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Appellee.
Decision Date31 March 1967
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)

Gilbert Hale Nutt, William P. Mulloy, Louisville, for appellant.

T. C. Carroll, Burlyn Pike, Taylor & Pike, Shepherdsville, for appellee.

OSBORNE, Judge.

This is an appeal from an order of the Bullitt Circuit Court affirming the County Board of Education in discharging appellant as a teacher in the public schools of Bullitt County. Specifically the appeal involves the procedures to be followed by a school board in discharging a teacher who has a contract of employment. The charges as filed by Mr. M. J. Cundiff, as chairman of the County Board of Education and Mr. Thomas Jefferies, as secretary, charge appellant as follows:

'1. Insubordination based upon fact that you refuse to co-operate with the principal of your school in the conduct of the school and the orders issued by him and your conduct toward him has been such that it is disruptive of the progress of the school.

'2. You have distributed alleged copies of confidential records from files of the school that have because of your so doing has violated instruction of your superiors in office and created prejudices against the manner in which the school has been conducted. (sic)

'3. You have failed to properly instruct the pupils in the subjects taught by you and do not have proper attention from or control over your pupils.

'4. You have installed in your room, where you teach, a punching bag, without necessary permission to do so and without permission have moved basketball basket from where they were located (sic) to other places.

'5. Your suggestion as to conduct of P.T.A. has been such as would cause same to be discredited if followed out.

'6. Your conduct in connection with teaching has not been for best interest of the school.

'7. In threatening to file suit against the principal of the school and statements included in the copies of confidential reports distributed by you. (sic)

At the hearing, which was held on February 10, 1966, at the office of the Bullitt County Board of Education at 1:30 P.M., the appellant specifically objected to going to trial under the charges for the reason that they were not sufficiently specific to inform him of the nature of his offenses and did not meet the requirements of KRS 161.790. In addition to appellant's objection to the vagueness of the charges, he attempted at the commencement of the hearing to examine the members of the school board concerning any prejudice they might hold against him and as to any information they had received adverse to him. The school board denied his request, and the members declined to testify. The hearing was conducted before the school board. Various witnesses testified for both parties. Both appellant and the Board of Education were represented by counsel.

In examining appellant's first contention that the charges against him were not sufficiently specific, we must examine the language contained in KRS 161.790, wherein it is provided:

'The contract of a teacher shall remain in force during good behavior and efficient and competent service by the teacher and shall not be terminated except for any of the following causes:

'(a) Insubordination, including but no limited to 1. violations of lawful rules and regulations established by the local board of education for the operation of schools, and 2. refusal to recognize or obey the authority of the superintendent, principal, or any other supervisory personnel of the board in the performance of their duties;

'(b) Immoral character or conduct unbecoming a teacher;

'(c) Physical or mental disability;

'(d) Inefficiency, incompetency, or neglect of duty, when a written statement identifying the problems or difficulties has been furnished the teacher or teachers involved.

'(2)(a) Charges on the above causes shall be supported by written records of teacher performance by the superintendent, principal, or other supervisory personnel of the board. (b) Marriage of a teacher shall not be cause for termination of the contract.'

We note from the above that the contract can not be terminated except for insubordination; violation of lawful orders and regulations; refusal to recognize or obey the authority of the superintendent, principal or other supervisory personnel; immoral character or conduct unbecoming a teacher; physical or mental inability; inefficiency; incompetency or neglect of duty. However, if charged with the latter three, a written statement must previously have been given to the teacher identifying the problems or difficulties. All charges must be supported by written records of teacher's performance by the superintendent, principal or other supervisory personnel. Now, to test the charges with the requirements contained in the statute.

Charge #1 is 'insubordination based upon fact that you refuse to co-operate with the principal of your school in the conduct of the school and the orders issued by him and your conduct toward him has been such that it is disruptive of the progress of the school.' We note that this charge is apparently drawn under § 1A of the statute as it includes insubordination, but it does not charge that there was a violation of any rule or regulation established by the board of education, nor does it charge that he refused to recognize or obey the authority of the superintendent or principal. It charged, instead, that he refused to cooperate with the principal. This may seem like 'nit-picking' at first blush but there can be a great difference between not obeying and not cooperating. However, to pass over this failure, we are of the opinion that the charge as framed does not furnish appellant with facts upon which he could reasonably formulate a defense. It gives no date of his actions nor does it indicate in any way the specific nature of the acts. The charge as it is framed could be validly asserted against almost any one, as it is more subjective than objective.

The second charge is 'you have distributed alleged copies of confidential records from files of the school that because of your so doing has violated instruction of your superiors in office and created prejudices against the manner in which the school has been conducted.' (sic) To read this charge in its most favorable light, it appears the appellant is being accused of violating the instructions of his superiors by distributing copies of confidential records from the files of the school. This again would come under § 1A insubordination including violation of lawful rules and regulations established by the local board of education. However, there is no charge that the board had enacted a rule or regulation prohibiting the removal of these records from the files, and their removal, unless it is a violation of a rule lawfully enacted by the board, would not constitute misconduct.

The third charge, 'you have failed to properly instruct the pupils in the subjects taught by you and do not have proper attention from or control over your pupils' would come under § 1D inefficiency, incompetency or neglect of duty. However, here we find that the statute requires a written statement identifying the problems or difficulties which first must have been furnished to the teacher. The charge does not indicate that such statement was furnished nor does the charge contain within it such statement. Therefore, in our opinion, it does not meet the requirements of the statute.

The fourth charge reads, 'You have installed in your room where you teach, a punching bag, without necessary permission to do so and,...

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31 cases
  • Baker v. Commonwealth, No. 2005-CA-001588-MR (Ky. App. 10/19/2007)
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • 19 Octubre 2007
    ...be applicable to" an agency's adjudication of a public employee's contract of employment. Brady at 31, citing Osborne v. Bullitt County Bd. of Ed., 415 S.W.2d 607, 610 (Ky. 1967)("We no longer think that the principles enunciated in American Beauty Homes should be extended to the problems h......
  • Arnold v. Crestwood Bd. of Ed., Docket Nos. 77-3520
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    ...v. Arnold Cleaners, Inc., 25 Mich.App. 672, 675, 181 N.W.2d 625, 627 (1970). Nevertheless, as suggested in Osborne v. Bullitt County Bd. of Ed., 415 S.W.2d 607 (Ky.App.1967), given the unique role assigned to the school board in matters such as these, the Court must also pay close scrutiny ......
  • Weeks v. Personnel Bd. of Review of Town of North Kingstown, 74-317-A
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    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
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    ...supra (dismissal of tenured teacher); Civil Serv. Comm'n v. Matlock, supra (chief of police reduced in rank); Osborne v. Bullitt County Bd. of Educ., 415 S.W.2d 607 (Ky.1967) (discharge of school teacher); Francisco v. Board of Directors, supra (discharge of school teacher). In each of thes......
  • Reis v. Campbell County Bd. of Educ.
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    ...jury and judge ...." Board of Education of Pulaski Co. v. Burkett, Ky., 525 S.W.2d 747, 747 (1975). See Osborne v. Bullitt County Board of Education, Ky., 415 S.W.2d 607 (1967). Moreover, prior to its amendment, KRS 161.790 vested sole authority to terminate tenured teachers in local boards......
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