Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2006

Missing hearing officer creating headaches in teacher contract case

February 11, 2006


Almost two months ago, Loretta Moore promised to render a decision in a long-simmering dispute between the Lawrence school district and a tenured teacher whose contract had not been renewed.

The ruling, she said, would be in district officials' hands by Dec. 31.

It wasn't and still isn't. Moore, a former law professor at Washburn University, can't be found.

"We haven't heard a thing," said Lawrence Supt. Randy Weseman. The district has several thousand dollars invested in the case.

No one, it seems, knows what to do.

"I guess it's time for a conference - to scratch our heads, decide to have another hearing or settle," said Rod Bieker, general counsel for the Kansas State Department of Education.

"I'm afraid I can't help you," said Bill Rich, associate dean at Washburn Law School. "She's moved. She doesn't respond to e-mail, and I don't have a current telephone number."

Neither the Kansas nor the Missouri bar association had a current street address or telephone number for Moore.

Bieker is in an awkward position because Moore's name was on a list of hearing officers the department gave the district.

"We'll help in any way we can," he said, "but I'm really at a loss as to what we can do." The department, he said, is not liable for Moore's inaction.

State law is unclear on how to fill voids created by hearing officers who do not fulfill their duties.

"This has never happened before," Bieker said.

Weseman is livid. "It can go in perpetuity," he said. "I'm not spending another dime of taxpayers' money on this."

So far, he said, the district has spent more than $20,000 defending its 2004 decision not to renew its contract with special education teacher William Ricketts.

According to district records, reasons cited for not renewing Ricketts' contract included:


¢Inappropriate interaction with staff and students with severe behavior disorders.

¢Failure to follow students' Individual Education Plans.

Grievance proceedings lasted from September 2004 to early January 2005. Moore was supposed to issue a ruling in February 2005.

Without a ruling, the grievance remains unresolved. If pressed, the school district could, in theory, be forced to participate in another hearing, creating a scenario in which it could be cheaper to enter a settlement.

"This is absurd," Weseman said.

Because Ricketts had tenure, state law required the school district to pay his $3,170-a-month salary for the eight months between his contract not being renewed and the conclusion of the grievance hearing.

Weseman said he has not heard from Ricketts or his Lawrence attorney, John Knox.

Knox did not return calls from the Journal-World.

School officials are unsure of Ricketts' whereabouts.


pelliott 12 years, 4 months ago

maybe ricketts and Moore are in fuji. Since the administrators don't know what to do, maybe they should go there too. we can just mail them all checks.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Kansas is a "right-to-work" state, which really has nothing to do with any right to work. All that up-is-down phrase really means is that employers can fire employees without cause. In public schools, I think tenure mainly means that employees can only be fired for demonstrated cause or financial exigency.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

I certainly hope you're thanking the one true Christian God (the one who talks to Dubya.)

Rhoen 12 years, 4 months ago

Why isn't there a "Post a comment" box under the Dolph Simon musings ...

I want one.

gccs14r 12 years, 4 months ago

"Ah, but it does. It also means you cannot set up a closed union shop in Kansas. Thank God!"

Yes, Pilgrim, that means that freeloaders get the benefits of Union membership without having to pay dues. I've been in Union shops and the backstabbing free-for-all that is Corporatist America. I prefer the Union shop, but am not there now owing to the Corporatists' proclivity for sending Labor overseas.

It's funny that Unions weren't the "enemy" until 1981. I wonder if that had anything to do with the election of a particular doddering McCarthy sympathizer who happily rolled over and exposed the political leanings of his entertainment bretheren?

coldbee42 12 years ago

I personally know William Ricketts. It does not surprise me in the slightest that he has delayed this trial and I would not be surprised if he had anything to do with Mrs. Moore's disappearance. Mr. Ricketts does has a history of drawing out cases and some how getting his way in the courtroom. Mr. Ricketts is currently residing in South Dakota where he thinks he is safe and can not be reached unless he wants to be. He is a very dangerous character and is capable of anything. It is very warming to hear that he has been paid for an entire school year without having to work at the school, lose his job as a P.E./ Health teacher in Kyle, South Dakota and at the same time manage to neglect his three daughters who he refuses to support. Mr. Ricketts does has a violent past and at his past places of employment he has been accused for sexual harassment towards students, a problem which has cost him his last job. Mr. Ricketts should not be allowed to get a way with a another crime.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.