Middleton school board to discuss Andrew Harris reinstatement - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: "Transition plan" reached in Andrew Harris reinstatement

Posted: Updated: Jan 20, 2014 09:34 PM

MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The Middleton-Cross Plains School Board has reached a "transition plan" to facilitate the reinstatement of former seventh grade science teacher Andrew Harris.

Harris was one of seven district employees disciplined following a 2009 investigation that revealed they had been looking at explicit images on school computers during the school day.

Harris was the only employee fired. He appealed the dismissal and, after a lengthy legal process, an arbitrator ruled in 2012 the district had just cause to discipline Harris but not fire him. The arbitrator said the proper punishment would have been a suspension of roughly two weeks, and ordered Harris reinstated with back pay.

The district appealed the ruling but it was upheld in the state courts. Last week the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to review the case, essentially validating the ruling final.

Monday night the school board and school district officials met in closed session for more than 90 minutes.

Following the meeting, school board president Ellen Lindgren gave the following statement to the media:
"The district will comply with the court's orders and implement the arbitrator's award. The board and administration have developed a transition plan to facilitate Mr. Harris' reinstatement, and will meet with the MEA tomorrow to review the process for completing that transition."

The MEA, or Middleton Education Association, is the teachers union representing Harris.

Perry Hibner, a spokesperson for the school district, said Harris previously received a chunk of back pay after the arbitrator's decision.

Hibner said the district could be required to pay Harris up to $198,000 more, although that number is not final. He said Harris would forfeit a portion of the back pay if he has been employed elsewhere since his dismissal.

Hibner estimated the total cost of the case to the school district, including factors like back pay to Harris and legal fees, at between $900,000 and $1 million.

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MIDDLETON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- The Middleton-Cross Plains school board, along with the school's superintendent and attorneys, will meet Monday night to discuss the re-instatement of teacher Andrew Harris.

Harris was fired in 2010 for viewing pornographic images at work. Six other employees were caught engaging in similar misconduct, but only Harris was fired.

Harris appealed his termination and a private arbitrator ruled in 2012 that the school district wrongfully fired him.

The school district, which disagreed with the arbitrator's ruling, had hoped the state Supreme Court would review the case.

But district spokesperson Perry Hibner said, since the Supreme Court declined to take the case this month, the board must provide Harris with a formal offer for re-instatement by January 28. 

Middleton-Cross Plains school district officials, along with the school board, will discuss what type of offer to make to Harris in a closed meeting Monday evening.

Hibner said he did not know if the board would actually take a vote on the plan.

Stay with WKOW.com and 27 News for more on this developing story.

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