Arbitration ongoing for fired Concord special ed teacher

Monitor staff
Sunday, October 29, 2017

Arbitration continues Monday in the case of Lori Fosdick, the former Broken Ground School special education teacher fired by the district in February.

The case has been the subject of a protracted legal back-and-forth between the teachers’ union and the Concord School District. When the union filed a grievance and asked for arbitration on Fosdick’s behalf, the district appealed to the state’s Public Employee Labor Relations Board, arguing that the union’s request for arbitration constituted an unfair labor practice.

The labor board sided with Fosdick, and on Oct. 18 dismissed the district’s objection.

“We find that RSA 189:13 does not by itself prohibit a (collective bargaining agreement) from including a ‘just cause’ standard for discipline or termination and we conclude, based on the parties’ CBA and case law, that the Association did not commit an unfair labor practice,” labor board Chairman Andrew Eills wrote in a unanimous decision for the three-member body.

A 10-year veteran of the district, Fosdick is asking for her post back and contesting the school board’s decision to let her go after she allegedly improperly restrained a special education student. According to filings with the labor board, the school district says Fosdick broke district policy and “used physical force to change a child’s mindset or behavior.” Parents of special education students, meanwhile, have been Fosdick’s staunchest supporters.

Concord’s school board voted, 6-2, in a nonpublic session Feb. 16 to fire Fosdick on the superintendent’s recommendation – a vote the board tried to keep secret. The two sides tried to reach a settlement over the next month, but those talks fell apart March 20 and led to the demand for arbitration.

Arbitration hearings, which are not open to the public, are expected to wrap up this week, Superintendent Terri Forsten said in an email. Each party will have additional time to file supporting documents, she said, and the arbitrator will have 30 days from then to render a ruling.

“It looks like a decision is likely to arrive at the end of December or early January,” Forsten wrote.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)