Arbitrator finds ‘just cause’ in firing of Concord special education teacher

  • Concord school district Superintendent Terri Forsten ends a meeting with parents of children who have special needs at Mill Brook School in Concord on Thursday evening, April 13, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Monday, February 19, 2018

An arbitrator found there was “just cause” to dismiss a former Broken Ground special education teacher.

Lori Fosdick was fired last February for improperly restraining a special education student, the Concord school district has said. Her termination was protested by several parents and was the subject of a protracted back-and-forth between the Concord School District and the teachers’ union.

The parties tried to reach a settlement for about a month after Fosdick’s firing, but talks fell apart, and the union ultimately filed a grievance and asked for arbitration in March.

The district appealed to the state’s Public Employee Labor Relations Board to stop arbitration, but the labor board sided with the union, allowing arbitration to finally take place in October. Following two days of testimony, a decision was rendered by an arbitrator in December.

“The Arbitrator rendered a ruling, independent of the Board’s decision, that there was ‘just cause’ in the dismissal,” superintendent Terri Forsten said in an email.

Forsten declined to provide a copy of the arbitrator’s decision, saying it was exempt from the state’s right-to-know law. Arbitration hearings are not open to the public and its proceedings are considered confidential, she said.

Aside from the union, Fosdick had found staunch support from several parents of special education students, who called the 10-year veteran of the district a uniquely empathetic and capable teacher.

“We disagree with the (arbitrator’s) decision, and the Concord Education Association and the parents have always supported Lori Fosdick. She’s a great teacher,” said attorney Lauren Snow Chadwick, who represented Fosdick on behalf of the National Education Association of New Hampshire.

The union will not appeal the arbitrator’s decision, Chadwick said.

“Arbitration really is the conclusion of this process,” she said.