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    Saturday, August 18, 2018-8:47:51P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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BOE lawyer: Former education chief misses the point

FORMER Education Commissioner Cynthia Deleon Guerrero misses the point, according to Board of Education legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu in his opposition to her request to the federal court to reconsider its ruling that dismissed her lawsuit against BOE.

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed with prejudice Deleon Guerrero’s lawsuit. “With prejudice” means that the lawsuit cannot be filed again.

Deleon Guerrero, through attorney Brien Sers Nicholas, has asked the federal court for reconsideration. Deleon Guerrero sued the elected BOE members in their official capacities for wrongful termination, breach of contract, and violations of her constitutional rights.

The BOE terminated her employment a year after it hired her.

BOE legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu, in his opposition to plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, said Deleon Guerrero’s contract for four years and the accompanying statute created a term “limit” on employment, not a guarantee of the same.

“In other words, the four-year term is a ceiling not a floor,” he said.

Both the contract and the statute contemplated her possible removal prior to the expiration of her term, Mocanu said.

“Thus, if an ‘expectation’ analysis is conducted to determine what reasonable expectation  plaintiff had in her continued employment, the answer is simple. She had the expectation that she would serve a term no longer than four years unless reappointed by the board, and that she could be terminated prior to the end of her term for cause or without cause,” Mocanu said.

Deleon Guerrero, he added, agreed that she was an at-will employee, and “this ends the analysis, full stop.”

As for Deleon Guerrero’s contention that she was removed for cause because the board did not get along with her, Mocanu said “it is a sandy foundation that necessarily erodes.”

All terminations are predicated on a motivation, he added.   “So long as the motivation is not illegal, it is legally permitted to be the basis for the firing of an at-will employee.”

He said Deleon Guerrero makes no allegations of discriminatory animus and thus cannot sustain any argument stemming from her claim that the termination was really “for cause.”

On Deleon Guerrero’s claim that she should be entitled to a pre-termination hearing because the BOE chairwoman had stated that they didn’t get along, Mocanu said: “How could anyone contest the stated subjective feelings of another person? How is that even possible? What would the goal of that hearing even be? Would plaintiff bring forth evidence that the chairwoman did in fact get along with plaintiff?”

According to Mocanu, “the most absurd part of the argument is that if Deleon Guerrero succeeded in proving the statement false, it would make her case worse, not better. If plaintiff proved they did get along, then her termination really could not be ‘for cause,’ let alone an illegal one. They got along, after all.”

Deleon Guerrero filed her lawsuit in Superior Court on Jan. 18, 2018 and named as defendants BOE Chairwoman MaryLou Ada and members Janice A. Tenorio, Herman T. Guerrero, Florine M. Hofschneider and Herman M. Atalig.

But the defendants, through their legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu, moved the lawsuit to the district court, saying it alleged a federal question and violations of federal statue.