After being terminated from Farrell Area School District as the high school principal in July 2008, it has been found that Lee V. McFerren was unjustly fired and the school board did not have sufficient evidence for his termination.
On April 8, Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, wrote and filed a majority opinion on behalf of herself and judges Keith B. Quigley and Renée Cohn Jubelirer that states, “…The district’s evidence did not prove that it had a ‘valid cause’ to discharge McFerren. Accordingly, the secretary’s decision is reversed.”
McFerren declined to discuss the opinion and his feelings, but did refer the New Pittsburgh Courier to his lawyer.
Barbara Seman-Ochs, McFerren’s attorney, could not comment because of litigation that is still pending against the Farrell Area School District, but did give a statement that states, “The opinion of the Commonwealth Court is insightful and well reasoned. Mr. McFerren is pleased to have been vindicated. The litigation with the Farrell Area School is not concluded and so I have no further comment at this time.”
McFerren was allegedly hired to “clean-up” the high school and was terminated by the school board after complaints from several teachers and board members. There were 44 allegations of wrongful doings and 112 findings of fact filed against him.
He went from having an evaluation score of approximately 98 percent and being named the assistant to the superintendent to being fired.
Judge Leavitt’s opinion also stated, “The relationship between the district’s school board and McFerren was an unhappy one. However, the board had a contractual commitment to McFerren, which included an obligation to work with him to move his performance in the direction it desired. Had the board done so, as required by its own District Policy 424, McFerren may have become the high school principal that the board members envisioned. If he did not, then the board would have been able to make out a case for dismissal prior to the end of the contract.”
Although this matter is far from over and this opinion does not get McFerren reinstated, it is another step for his case against the district.