Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. 1222-CC09846. Honorable David L. Dowd.
FOR APPELLANT: George O. Suggs, Amanda K. Hansen, St. Louis, MO.
FOR RESPONDENT: Vincent D. Reese, Anne R. Kerns, St. Louis, MO.
ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, Judge. Patricia L. Cohen, P.J., and Roy L. Richter, J., concur.
ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, Judge
Ronald Luellen (" Appellant" ) appeals the judgment of the trial court affirming the decision of the Special Administrative Board (" the SAB" ) to terminate his employment with the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis (" the District" ). We reverse and remand.
Appellant was employed as a physical education teacher by the District for approximately nine years. On February 16, 2012, Appellant was involved in an incident wherein he allegedly threw a seven-year-old student (" P.H." ) to the ground when she refused to sit down while awaiting the arrival of her bus. Another student's parent witnessed the event. As a result of the incident, the District's Superintendent decided to terminate Appellant's employment. The District issued a statement of charges on April 2, 2012. The statement of charges alleged that Appellant violated several District policies.
An administrative hearing was conducted on May 2, 2012. Before P.H. took the stand as a witness, the Superintendent submitted a motion to exclude Appellant from the room on the grounds that P.H. would be intimidated by Appellant's presence. The Superintendent did not present any testimony or other evidence in support of his contention that P.H. would be intimidated, rather, he based the motion on P.H.'s young age and the severity of the alleged underlying facts. The hearing officer granted the Superintendent's motion over Appellant's objection.
During P.H.'s testimony, Appellant was not allowed in the hearing room pursuant to the Superintendent's motion. However, Appellant was permitted to listen to P.H.'s testimony telephonically and was allowed to confer with his attorney during a break before counsel's cross-examination of P.H.
On August 24, 2012, after considering the testimony of the various witnesses and evidence from the hearing, the SAB issued its findings of fact and conclusions of law, finding that Appellant violated the District's policies in question and terminating his employment. Appellant filed a petition for review, and the trial court affirmed the SAB's decision. This appeal followed.
Appellant raises two points on appeal. In his first point, Appellant asserts the SAB erred in terminating his employment because its decision was not supported by competent evidence and was arbitrary and capricious. In his second point, Appellant contends the SAB erred in terminating his employment because he did not receive a fair hearing, in that he was not able to confront an adverse witness due to his exclusion from the ...