Teacher sues Re-1 for wrongful termination
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A lawyer for Merlisa Porter, the ex-teacher who’s suing the Re-1 School District for wrongful termination, said she had hoped she could resolve the situation without filing the suit. But after trying unsuccessfully to negotiate with Re-1 officials to rehire Porter, she said there was no other option. “I had hoped we could resolve it without ever filing a lawsuit,” Colorado Education Association attorney Sharyn Dreyer said. The lawsuit was just served to the district last week, Dreyer said, so there hasn’t yet been any response. “It’s really kind of in their hands,” Dreyer said. In the lawsuit, filed in 9th District Court on Sept. 22, Porter claims she was unlawfully terminated from her position teaching language arts and social studies to sixth-grade students at Glenwood Springs Middle School. Because Porter began as a teacher in the district in 1998 and worked through the 2004 school year, she was no longer on probationary status, according to the lawsuit. Colorado state law states that teachers who have worked for more than three school years are no longer on probationary status. That means the district must furnish a reason why Porter’s contract was not renewed and give her a termination hearing. Dreyer said school district officials are claiming that during Porter’s first three years working for the district, she wasn’t a teacher, but rather the person running a program for at-risk students who had been suspended or expelled from regular classes at the middle school. Dreyer disagrees with that assessment. “We just think that’s wrong,” Dreyer said. If they are wrong, as Porter and Dreyer claim, Porter should be given a reason for her dismissal and a hearing so she can challenge the decision. “They haven’t even tried in this case, I don’t think they could,” Dreyer said. Dreyer said Porter received good evaluations throughout her six years with the district. Re-1 School Superintendent Fred Wall could not be reached for comment about the lawsuit on Tuesday.Porter is looking to be reinstated as a teacher, get back pay and benefits, have all records of her contract nonrenewal expunged and have her court and attorney fees paid. She declined to comment on the case.Porter is looking to be reinstated as a teacher, get back pay and benefits, have all records of her contract nonrenewal expunged and have her court and attorney fees paid. She declined to comment on the case.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.