In the case of Vukovic-Burkhardt v. Dayton Bd. of Edn., 2022-Ohio-4183, the appellate court held that a teacher failed to timely appeal a school board’s order terminating the teacher’s employment contract pursuant to R.C. 3319.16 as the appeal was filed more than thirty days after the date in which the teacher, in fact, received notice of the order terminating the teaching contract regardless of the validity of either the date or signature on the notice. The appellate court also rejected the teacher’s argument that the appeal deadline was missed due to fraud, misrepresentation, or any other misconduct of the school board or board legal counsel.
As a preliminary matter, a few procedural issues need to be discussed. In this case, a teacher, in fact, received notice of the termination order via email on September 20, 2019; in fact, received a second notice of the termination order via mail on September 26, 2019; and, in fact, filed a notice of appeal with the trial court on October 26, 2019. Without suspecting any irregularities with the September 20, 2019 notice, the teacher nonetheless missed the thirty day timeline to file a notice of appeal from the date in which the teacher first had notice of the termination order – i.e., on September 20, 2019. Thus, the appeal was untimely.
In an effort to remedy the teacher’s untimely appeal, the teacher argued that the teacher later suspected – on December 23, 2020 – that the September 20, 2019 notice may contain an invalid date or signature and, therefore, the time for filing an appeal did not run until the teacher received the September 26, 2019 notice. The teacher also argued that the board legal counsel later relied upon this invalid September 20, 2019 notice during the appeal before the trial court – i.e., after the teacher had already missed the appeal deadline. It is important to note that the teacher did not suspect any fraud from either the school board or board legal counsel until after the appeal was filed.
In response to the teacher’s arguments, the school board argued that the R.C. 3319.16 30-day appeal timeline began to run on the date the teacher received notice of the termination order; nothing in the September 20, 2019 notice materially impacted the actual termination order even if the order had technical errors; and no fraud, misrepresentation, and/or any other misconduct of the school board or board legal counsel — to the extent such conduct even existed and was timely raised — caused the teacher to file the appeal too late.
The appellate court agreed with the school board and explained that the purpose of providing the teacher with the order of termination was to afford the teacher with notice of the grounds for termination and to run the 30-day appeal timeline, which was accomplished by the September 20, 2019 notice. The appellate court further explained that there was no evidence that either the school board or board legal counsel committed acts of fraud, misrepresentation, and/or any other misconduct and, in any event, such arguments were also raised too late.
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Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.
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.