The union filed a grievance charging that the termination was illegal on the grounds that Meagher’s decision to send the email was “concerted protected union activity.”
At the hearing Tuesday, union legal representative Laurie Houle said Meagher “was the face of the union’s action activities” and “this termination was under the pretentious guise that Ms. Meagher encouraged a strike.”
Houle argued that there was a direct link between the reaccreditation process, specifically the self-study reports, and the collective bargaining session because the reports were based on high school teachers leading five courses a year, while teachers faced the possibility of teaching a sixth course by the end of the year.
A second hearing day was scheduled for yesterday, Wednesday, after The Townsman’s deadline.
In his opening comments at the hearing, School Department attorney John Foskett said Meagher’s dismissal was “focused purely on the content of this email” and that the email’s “purpose, the sole purpose, was to obtain leverage at the bargaining table.”
In an Oct. 31 response to the AEA grievance charge, the School Committee wrote that the email “urged the faculty to withhold the exercise of their judgment and discretion regarding the reports and the process and to instead simply vote to abstain for reasons having nothing to do with the accreditation process.”
No witnesses were called by the School Department at Tuesday’s hearing, and the department’s involvement in the hearing was only through cross-examination. The AEA called Meagher, union President Kerry Costello and high school English teacher Greg Waters to testify as witnesses.
In her testimony, Meagher said she opposed the passing of the reports because “in my opinion, the validity of the reports was completely undermined. They had decided we were teaching six courses when all the research (for the reports), all the evidence we gathered, wasn’t going to be related to the school we were going to be over the next 10 years.”