Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


July 11, 2013

AHS teacher's firing overturned

School officials weigh appeal as Meagher mulls her future

Decisions, decisions.

A week after a state labor board ordered the Andover School Committee to reinstate a fired high school teacher, it remains unclear whether the town will appeal the ruling or if the teacher will take her old job back.

On July 2, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board ruled that the School Committee discriminated against Andover High English teacher and union activist Jen Meagher for sending out an email encouraging her colleagues to abstain from voting on high school re-accreditation reports because they were “the only leverage we have left at the bargaining table.”

The district terminated her for sending the email, and the union filed a grievance against the firing last October on the grounds that sending the email was protected union activity.

The state labor board agreed.

Its decision came after a two-day hearing before the board last month, which said in its decision that the School Committee “discriminated against Meagher based on her union activity in violation of (state law).” The decision was filed as part of a 53-page ruling.

“I’m pleased and I think it’s the right decision,” Meagher said in an interview this week, adding that she is still mulling whether to take her old job back.

“I would like to take it,” she said. “I’m kind of weighing the options and seeing what else is possible.”

Since she was let go last fall, Meagher has held several substitute and part-time teaching positions in the region.

The School Committee, meanwhile, also has a decision to make.

The decision can be challenged before the state Appeals Court. An appeal must be filed within 30 days, according to School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue. No decision on an appeal, or even discussion of one, has taken place as of this week.

“The School Committee is reviewing the decision and will assess all of the options and avenues for appellate review for the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board decision,” Forgue said.

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