In Ruez v. Lake Cty. Educational Serv. Ctr., 2017-Ohio-4125, an Ohio appellate court found that the governing board of an educational service center (“ESC”) did not breach its contract with an intervention specialist when it implemented a reduction in force under R.C. 3319.17. In doing so, the court also found that employees of an ESC do not have recall rights following a reduction in force.
The case involves an intervention specialist employed by an ESC. Two of the school districts that contracted for the intervention specialist’s services notified the ESC that “they would require fewer hours of pre-school intervention services for the 2015-2016 school year.” As a result, the ESC suspended the intervention specialist’s contract, in part, under R.C. 3319.17. Ruez at ¶ 3. The intervention specialist subsequently “inquired about a full-time teaching position which had opened.” Ruez at ¶ 4. When the intervention specialist learned that the position paid less than what she formerly made, the intervention specialist made no further inquiry and the ESC hired another teacher to fill that position. The intervention specialist eventually retired and filed a complaint against the ESC alleging, among other things, a breach of her employment contract.
The intervention specialist argued that the ESC was required to hire her to “the full-time position which became open, but which she did not pursue.” Ruez at ¶ 21. The intervention specialist based this argument on R.C. 3319.17(C), which provides, in pertinent part, that “teachers whose continuing contracts are suspended by any board pursuant to this section shall have the right of restoration to continuing service status by that board if and when teaching positions become vacant or are created for which any of such teachers are or become qualified.”
The Ohio appellate court rejected this argument finding that R.C. 3319.17(C), “applies only to reductions made by cities, exempted villages, local and joint vocational school boards – not to educational service centers.” In other words, according to the Ohio appellate court, ESC employees have absolutely no recall rights under the reduction in force statutes.
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Authors: Matthew John Markling and Patrick Vrobel
Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.