The Professional Standards Commission (PSC) voted to suspend a teacher for 20 days, accusing him of roughly handling a non-verbal, autistic student while putting the student on the school bus. The PSC’s charges were based on the testimony of the bus driver and bus monitor who claimed to have witnessed the teacher’s behavior. The teacher requested a trial on the allegations and hired Bob Rubin to defend him.
The teacher denied ever abusively handling the student and Mr. Rubin set out to prove his innocence. Mr. Rubin subpoenaed the videotape from the bus and the videotape from the interior and exterior of the school. The school system at first claimed that the bus’s videotape was damaged, but right before trial produced a portion showing the bus right after the student was already on the bus. The tape showed the child sitting in his seat with no signs of duress. Although there were cameras everywhere around the interior and exterior of the school, the administration never pulled the video, so it did not exist at the time of trial. The Judge found great fault with the school for not obtaining that evidence.
Mr. Rubin also called the teacher, principal and paraprofessional who had knowledge of the incident and the accused teacher’s relationship with the student. Through cross-examination, Mr. Rubin was able to show that the bus driver and monitor were not worthy of belief – their stories clashed and the bus monitor offered extremely unlikely details that were not in her prior statement. On the other hand, the paraprofessional who witnessed the teacher putting the student on the bus testified that he did everything right with a very difficult child and she did not believe he abused the child in any way.
The trial lasted a full day and the Judge ruled that the PSC’s witnesses were not as credible as the teacher’s witnesses. In the Judge’s opinion, the agency did not carry its burden of proof, and he reversed the PSC decision to suspend the teacher. The teacher is currently teaching in another state.
For more, see the court’s final decision.