A fired Bishop State Community College food service instructor who enrolled in his own course has been ordered rehired with back pay by an arbitrator who ruled his dismissal was unfair.
The arbitrator ruled that Henry Douglas had already received a letter of reprimand from Bishop State for enrolling in the classes and his firing was an extra penalty for the same situation.
Arbitrator James Odom Jr. found that Douglas was only following the instructions of his supervisor and academic adviser, Herman Packer, who was also fired by the Mobile college and later reinstated on appeal.
“There is nothing in the record to show an intent on the part of Douglas to defraud the college with respect to class credits, pay for teaching or tuition credit,” Odom wrote in a decision reported Thursday by the Press-Register.
When Douglas was hired in 2002, school officials were worried that his associate degree wasn’t in the field, according to documents from Bishop State. They said he should get a two-year degree in commercial food service.
Between summer 2002 and fall 2004, Douglas enrolled as a student in 10 courses he was also assigned to teach and six more courses that were scheduled for times when he was supposed to teach different classes.
“The way the paperwork was filed, it looked like he was teaching himself in his own classes. He absolutely was not,” said Douglas’ attorney, Henry Caddell.
As of February 2007, Douglas earned $42,127, the Press-Register reported.
Two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne criticized the ruling, which he said was the result of teacher tenure protections and the state teacher’s union, the Alabama Education Association.
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