Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court to Decide if Teacher Turned in Her Paperwork Too Late to Appeal Termination

Among Four Cases Scheduled for Oral Arguments

Image of an hourglass filled with sand

A Dayton teacher will represent herself as the Supreme Court will decide if she met a deadline to contest her termination.

Image of an hourglass filled with sand

A Dayton teacher will represent herself as the Supreme Court will decide if she met a deadline to contest her termination.

A Dayton high school special education teacher was convicted of assault for striking a student confined to a wheelchair.  The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education and the teacher agreed to use arbitration to decide whether she could be fired, and the arbitrator decided the board had good cause to fire her. Exactly three months later, she filed a request in common pleas court to set aside or adjust the ruling. The school board objected arguing the law required it to receive notice of the appeal within three months, and that the teacher missed the filing deadline. The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week to determine if the filing was submitted on time or if the teacher was just days late.

Georgia G. Cox, who taught at Meadowdale High School at the time of the October 2012 incident, will be representing herself before the Supreme Court when it hears Dayton Public Schools v. Cox. Cox was represented by the Dayton Education Association and under the collective bargaining agreement between the board of education and teachers’ union, Cox was able to choose arbitration as a means for deciding her termination. The arbitrator’s decision, called “an award,” was issued on Dec. 10, 2013, and Cox filed her appeal of the award in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on March 10, 2014. Cox requested the clerk of courts serve the school board with her motion.

The board of education received Cox’s notice a few days later, and asked the trial court to reject her appeal arguing Cox didn’t meet the strict requirements of R.C. 2711.13. The board argued that Cox’s appeal notice had to be received by March 10 for the case to move forward.

The trial court ruled that the union, but not Cox, had the right to appeal, and if it did, the school board had need to receive the notice by March 10. Cox appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court, and the board appealed to the Supreme Court.

Cox argues the Second District correctly found the notice needed to be mailed by March 10, not received by then. She also notes that the Second District ruled she had a right to appeal, and she claims she didn’t receive a copy of the arbitrator decision until days after the union and the board got it. Cox argues the clock started when she received her copy, claiming she appealed well before the three-month deadline.

The Ohio Education Association, which represents teachers statewide, submitted an amicus curiae brief supporting the school board’s position. The association states that the Second District’s ruling disrupts the clear laws governing the arbitration process.

Oral Arguments
In addition to the arbitration case, the Court will hear one other appeal on Tuesday, March 8, involving U.S. Rep. James Renacci and his wife, Tina, and two cases on Wednesday, March 9. The Court’s sessions begin at 9 a.m. at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on The Ohio Channel.

Previews Available
Along with the brief descriptions below, the Office of Public Information today released previews of the cases.

Case for Tuesday, March 8
In Renacci v. Testa, a U.S. congressman and his wife are seeking a refund of nearly $360,000 paid as a penalty after an audit of their 2000 personal tax return. The state tax commissioner imposed the penalty because the Wadsworth couple didn’t report $13.9 million generated from a type of trust that was a tax shelter before 2000. The taxpayers assert they properly disclosed the income in separate paperwork sent to tax authorities. Given that the commissioner’s policy change was being challenged in the courts, the couple maintains they acted in good faith and reasonably.

Cases for Wednesday, March 9
A lawyer working for Cuyahoga County lost his job after an investigation revealed he had falsified 196 of his time records between May 2011 and July 2012. In Disciplinary Counsel v. Kramer, the state’s attorney conduct board recommends that he be suspended from practicing law for one year, all stayed. However, the disciplinary office that investigated the matter argues the suspension should be an actual timeout in part because the lawyer stole money from the county and has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Cincinnati Bar Association v. Fernandez involves the hot-button issue of outsourcing legal services. The professional conduct board proposes that a Cincinnati attorney who hired a California company for office support be publicly reprimanded for failing to reasonably communicate with a client. The local bar association claims a public reprimand isn’t sufficient because the attorney violated six professional conduct rules, including allowing non-attorneys to negotiate for his client.