Facts: Petitioner David Vinson was fired from his job as a teacher with the respondent Federal Way School District #210 on grounds that he had harassed and retaliated against a former student and subsequently lied during the course of the school district’s investigation of the former student’s complaint. Vinson appealed the school district’s decision and a hearing was held. The hearing officer ruled that the school district had failed to establish sufficient cause to fire Vinson. The school district sought review of the hearing officer’s decision in the Superior Court for King County pursuant to Washington Revised Code §7.16.040. The superior court affirmed the hearing officer’s decision. Upon appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the school district had established sufficient cause to fire Vinson. Vinson appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): May a school district appeal an adverse decision by a hearing officer pursuant to §7.16.040?
If not, is the hearing officer’s decision subject to reversal under the Court’s inherent constitutional power?
Conclusion: Justice Wiggins’ opinion for the Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that the statutory writ of certiorari created by §7.16.040 was not intended to permit a school district to appeal an adverse decision by a hearing officer as there is no reason to give a school district a right to judicial review of its own decision. The Court also held that the hearing officer’s decision is not subject to reversal under the Court’s inherent constitutional power as the scope of review under this power is limited to determining whether the hearing officer’s actions were arbitrary, capricious, or illegal. Thus, as the hearing officer did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or illegally, the Court reinstated the hearing officer’s decision.
Petitioner: David Vinson
(Counsel: Tyler K. Firkins)
Respondent: Federal Way School District #210
(Counsel: Jeffrey Ganson and Rachel Edmonds Miller)
Argument: Thursday, January 27, 2011 2:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Prevailing Party: David Vinson (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen2 Court (2011-)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.