Educators accused of unethical conduct


POSTED: Saturday, November 07, 2009

A group of parents with disabled children has filed a motion alleging unethical conduct on the part of state teachers and administrators.

The same motion also charged the state Attorney General's Office was in a conflict of interest, representing both Gov. Linda Lingle and the state Department of Education as they defend challenges to Furlough Fridays.

The motion is connected to one of three lawsuits challenging the state's cancellation of 17 public school days this academic year and 17 next year through unpaid furlough days for teachers. A hearing on the three cases is scheduled for Monday before Judge Wallace Tashima of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the motion filed yesterday, attorney Eric Seitz alleges that teachers and administrators had direct contact with his clients, disabled children and their parents about the impact of furlough days.

Seitz said without court review, state educational officials subsequently filed 16 declarations involving his clients, including unfounded conclusions that furlough days would have no effect on them. Seitz said the contact with his clients who have legal representation was improper.

Attorney General Mark Bennett said the allegations are “;totally without merit.”; He said the teachers were trying to make sure the furloughs had as little impact as possible on special-education students who have individualized education plans.

“;We categorically deny anything unethical,”; Bennett said.

He said there was no conflict of interest in his office representing both the Lingle administration and the DOE over furloughs.

Bennett said Seitz's complaint was shown to the administration and department. “;They all indicated they wanted us to continue as their lawyers,”; Bennett said.