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Temporary Teacher Settles Tenure Suit With District

April 15, 1993|ROBIN GREENE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GLENDALE — A disgruntled teacher has quietly settled a lawsuit against the Glendale Unified School District in which he claimed his three years of temporary teaching qualified him to be hired as a full-time tenured teacher.

Details of the settlement between Bill Walker and the district were not disclosed, by mutual agreement. But both sides confirmed that the settlement included a teacher's contract that took effect April 1 and a probationary job as a sixth-grade teacher at Keppel Elementary School beginning in July.

"I'm really looking forward to (the teaching post) because Keppel is where I used to go to school," Walker said, adding that he wanted to put the lawsuit behind him. "What's past is past. Let's get on with our lives."

The federal suit, filed in September, 1992, was settled last month "in order to avoid further litigation costs," said Walker's attorney, David Romley.

The suit accused the district of violating Walker's constitutional rights by not hiring him as a teacher. It also asked for punitive and compensatory damages.

At the same time Walker was pursuing his suit against the district, he also asked the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing in Sacramento to waive a number of required courses that he needed to obtain his teaching credentials.

Walker, 35, a 1976 graduate of Hoover High School in Glendale, said he had been taking teaching classes at Cal State Northridge, but was unable to complete his requirements because some classes had been canceled while others were offered at the same time he was teaching in Glendale.

"I had already been in the classroom for three years," Walker said. "I shouldn't have to student-teach. It's like I've already been certified to be a doctor and now they want to send me back to medical school."

The commission at first denied Walker's request for a waiver but later reconsidered, said Marsha Elam, a senior legal analyst with the state attorney general's office.

Upon examining the case further, the commission found that Walker's teaching experience satisfied the requirements and it granted his credentials, she said. Walker was notified in February by the attorney general's office that his request had been granted.

Walker said he began working in the Glendale school system as a substitute teacher in 1985. In February, 1989, he was offered a job under a temporary one-year contract to teach sixth grade at John Muir Elementary School. The contract was extended a year later.

In November, 1991, Walker said he took over a difficult fourth-grade class at Fremont Elementary School. When the district declined to offer him a new contract, Walker said he sued, with the support of many parents.

Romley said the suit asked the district to grant Walker full-time teaching status and consider him a tenured teacher because he had taught three years in the system.

Walker said Glendale teachers are usually granted tenure on the first day of their third year of teaching. "My first day at Fremont was (the) first day of my third year," he said.

Tenure was not part of the settlement, Walker said, because he has been hired as a probationary teacher.

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