Quakertown Community School Board is contesting the reinstatement of a veteran teacher it unanimously fired in January 2018.
Board members voted 6-2 to appeal an arbitrator’s decision to reinstate music teacher Carol Dzurenda without back pay. Dzurenda was terminated by the district after dragging a disruptive child across a classroom carpet; afterward, she filed a grievance through her union.
Addressing last week’s meeting, director Keith Micucci said he found the ruling baffling and said Dzurenda’s actions warranted termination. “This is unacceptable behavior at any level let alone the youngest and most vulnerable group, which are our kids.”
Board members Robert Diliberto and Kaylyn Mitchell added they were troubled by the music teacher’s apparent lack of remorse. “I can find sympathy in any situation, but it is really difficult for me to understand how someone could not feel remorse for something as egregious as this situation,” remarked Mitchell.
The arbitrator in his report acknowledged Dzurenda’s lack of remorse but said the incident “did not rise to the level of violation of any laws of the commonwealth” because no charges were brought. The report noted that Dzurenda had an exemplary record prior to the incident, and therefore would not be a danger to students in the future.
But he denied her back pay and benefits because of her lack of recognition that her behavior was inappropriate; because of a throwaway comment “I hate this class,” which some students could have overheard; and her decision on advice of her counsel not to present her side of what occurred when asked to do so by the district.
Dzurenda, a district employee for nearly 20 years, earned $103,708 in the 2015-2016 school year, according to the site openpa.gov. She previously taught at Central Bucks and New Hope-Solebury districts, and had been substituting in the Quakertown Community district until last week’s vote.
The case will be heard by the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, which is expected to issue a decision before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.