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Moore loses legal fight to overturn Adamowski reprimand

West Rocks Middle School Principal Lynne Moore speaks to the Norwalk Board of Education Negotiations and Personnel Committee in 2016, with Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) Attorney John Gesmonde at her side.

NORWALK, Conn. — A Connecticut judge has upheld a charge of insubordination levied against West Rocks Middle School Principal Lynne Moore.

In 2016, Moore filed a grievance challenging a reprimand she received from Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski. The disciplinary letter described Moore’s comments to parents about the then-developing middle school redesign as insubordinate. The Board of Education Negotiations and Personnel committee upheld the reprimand after a hearing, which held publicly at Moore’s request.

Moore and NASA then requested arbitration, but the arbitrator upheld the reprimand, asking only that it be rewritten to remove references to “facts outside of the March 28, 2016 insubordination.” Moore and the Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA), of which she is president, appealed the arbitrator’s decision a year ago in Stamford Superior Court.

NASA’s appeal alleged that the arbitrator’s decision was invalid because the arbitrator did not retain the power to approve a revised reprimand letter, asserting that the arbitrator had exceeded his authority. On Feb. 15, Superior Court Judge Daniel Tobin court upheld the arbitration decision, rejecting NASA’s legal arguments.

Neither Moore nor NASA Vice President Tony Ditrio replied to an email asking for comment.

Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis, in an email, said:

“The Board is pleased that the Superior Court has upheld the arbitrator’s ruling in the Board’s favor regarding the disciplinary letter issued to Dr. Moore. Obviously this ruling focuses on the finality of arbitration proceedings (without which arbitration would become ineffective), and the ruling in our favor recognizes that finality.

“The disciplinary letter will now become a permanent entry in Dr. Moore’s personnel file, in accordance with the arbitrator’s ruling last year.”

Barbis, in his email, highlighted excerpts from the February 2017 arbitration award:

  • “(I)nsubordination is presumed to be known as punishable conduct. But, here, it is more than conduct imbued into the psyche of all employees. In 2009, Dr. Moore received a Letter of Reprimand for a ‘direct violation of my [the Superintendent’s] express instructions.’ And, in 2012, Dr. Moore received a written Reprimand and Warning for failure to comply with the Assistant Superintendent’s directive. The failure was, in the judgment of the Assistant Superintendent, ‘insubordination.’ Thus, based on her prior disciplinary record, Dr. Moore was fully aware that insubordination could have disciplinary consequences.”
  • “Was the Board’s investigation conducted fairly and objectively? The simple answer is ‘yes.’ Dr. Adamowski provided Dr. Moore with an opportunity to respond to information relayed to him by Dr. Costanzo and Dr. Connor. The purpose of an investigation is to ascertain the facts. In this instance, the facts were clear.”
  • “[T]here is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Moore was discriminated against based on inconsistent discipline for insubordination.”
  • “The Association overstates when it asserts Dr. Moore was severely disciplined for her insubordination. She was disciplined—certainly. But, in light of her prior discipline for insubordination, the reprimand was certainly not severe.”
  • “Was the Superintendent’s action anti-union animus and therefore discriminatory? The record does not support such an assertion.”
  • “[B]ased on the totality of the circumstances, a letter of reprimand was an appropriate action.”
  • “[B]ased on the totality of the circumstances, a letter of reprimand was an appropriate action.”

 

“These findings by an unbiased arbitrator refute most of the public arguments made by the union regarding this matter,” Barbis wrote. “The administration and the Board are entitled to expect the school system’s employees to act in a non-insubordinate way, as we move forward with implementation of our extraordinary Strategic Plan. This ruling in the Board’s favor will support that effort.”

Asked for an estimate of the cost of defending the appeal, Barbis wrote, “I don’t know the exact number but it was not significant.”

2018 02 15 Norwalk Moore Memorandum of Decision

2017 02 08 Norwalk NASA Grievance Award by Arbitrator

6 comments

niz March 13, 2018 at 7:04 pm

Interesting to learn of this matter, back on 2015 I had a very difficult time with her as my kid was a student at her school and she was very unprofessional, as well as her guidance staff too. I reached out to Mr A, school superintendent at the time and the matters was passed on from one person to another, even an administrator posed to be a concerned party to help resolve the mix up… what a fiasco, my kid missed 4-6 school days over it too. I had to basically threaten them with a legal case to get that principal to step up.

Mitch Adis March 14, 2018 at 7:33 pm

I have a student at WRMS. I think Dr Moore runs a tight ship and does not tolerate nonsense. I suspect those who take issue with her have difficulty with discipline.

Interesting March 14, 2018 at 8:42 pm

@Mitch….tight ship? You cannot be serious! VIsit that school for a day and you will take back your comment. Maybe even pull your child from that school. The last thing in that school that happens is discipline!

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