State court rules teacher was properly fired

Gouverneur Junior-Senior High School at 113 E Barney St. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — Nancy A. Hay, a tenured teacher for the Gouverneur School District, who was fired on Oct. 22, 2018, for misconduct, immoral conduct and insubordination, will not be getting her job back.

The decision, filed Oct. 11 in the St. Lawrence County Clerk’s office, was rendered by Acting Supreme Court Justice Jerome J. Richards after Judge Mary M. Farley recused herself from presiding over the case.

Ms. Hay, 49, of 154 Peabody Road, was previously charged by state police on Feb. 12, 2018, along with her daughter, Lacy A. Redmond, 26, of John Street, with five counts of first-degree unlawful dealing with a child for allegedly providing alcohol to several underage students on Nov. 8, 2017. Ms. Redmond, who was a teaching assistant at the middle school, resigned earlier last year. But until the week of her termination, Ms. Hay, a biology teacher for grades seven to 12, was still employed by the school district.

She was accused of inviting several students, most of whom were on the Gouverneur Central High School cheer team, to her house several times for drinking parties, according to students’ testimonies in court documents from earlier this year.

The decision to fire Ms. Hay was made after a New York State Education Department hearing officer heard the charges and found that the teacher was guilty of conduct unbecoming of a tenured teacher — misconduct, immoral conduct and insubordination — but the investigation into the matter goes back to the last school year.

Ms. Hay challenged that decision and sought to have the decision overturned, and argued for a new hearing, a setting aside of the penalty of termination and the imposition of a new and lesser penalty, according to the decision and order.

Judge Richards denied that request.

“Where misconduct is found, the penalty imposed must be proportionate to the conduct of the individual and the risk of harm to the school district or the public,” the judge wrote, followed by the citation of case law. “The record before the court establishes that the petitioner was accorded due process in conformance with the law.

“Additionally, giving due deference to the credibility determinations of the hearing officer, the court finds that the corrected award, finding the petitioner guilty of the various charges of misconduct stated therein, is supported by adequate evidence,” Judge Richards wrote. “Lastly, the court finds the penalty imposed was neither irrational nor does it shock the conscience.”

After her announced termination, a Gouverneur Central School District news release stated the district initiated an investigation following their discovery of the allegations and passed the results on to the public hearing officer, who submitted an opinion and award on Oct. 15, 2018. The opinion stated Ms. Hay was guilty and that termination was the appropriate response.

The public hearing officer, after reviewing the evidence, found Ms. Hay guilty of permitting students to drink on her property on or around Nov. 9, Dec. 1, Dec. 27 and Dec. 31. The public hearing officer also found Ms. Hay guilty of intimidating and threatening a student whom she believed was going to tell other teachers about the drinking incidents.

“Why am I hearing you will be going to (the athletic director) about students drinking in my home,” the public hearing officer’s report alleges Ms. Hay said to the student. “You need to think about things because you are ruining (a foreign exchange student’s) experience here. If you tell on me it will ruin my life and my job.”

Ms. Hay also was accused of insubordination for an instance where she admitted to High School Principal Cory Wood that she had students over, that they’d slept in her basement and near them there had been a refrigerator with alcohol.

She then asked for the names of students who reported her, and, after he denied her request, called him by his given name and asked how he could trust the word of a student over an adult.

Ms. Hay allegedly swore at him repeatedly in his office and upon leaving his office according to the report, which described Ms. Hay’s interaction with Mr. Wood as being loud and abrasive.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

rdsouth

In her defense, she just wanted to hang with the popular girls.

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