Judge dismisses former teacher’s lawsuit against Oroville School District, ex superintendent

Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson

Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson

OKANOGAN – Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson dismissed former teacher Ryan Frazier’s wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the Oroville School District and its former superintendent, Steve Quick.

Frazier, who was a provisional teacher in his first year at Oroville, made the allegations that his contract was wrongfully not renewed in a lawsuit filed in 2014. After not being picked up for a second year as a teacher at Oroville he then ran for a seat on the Oroville School Board and was elected over the incumbent. He was a member of the school board until he resigned on Aug. 2, 2017 to take a teaching position at Desert Oasis High School in Othello, Wash.

In an 11-page decision filed on Aug. 22, 2017, Judge Rawson concluded Frazier’s lawsuit was “without any legal merit.” The judge held, “The decision of the Oroville School Board and its members was not arbitrary, capricious or illegal.”

Ryan Frazier

Ryan Frazier

Rawson’s decision followed a bench trial that took place from May 23 to May 26, 2017 at Okanogan County Superior Court in Okanogan. In Frazier’s lawsuit, he alleged that the non-renewal of his teaching contract was arbitrary, capricious and illegal. He accused Supt. Quick of lying to the school board about the reasons for his recommendation for non-renewal. At the end of the trial, he sought reinstatement to his teaching position, an award of more than $106,000 in lost earnings and an award for emotional distress. Before the start of trial, he sought an award of nearly $215,000.

Steve Quick

Steve Quick

Frazier was hired by Oroville School District in 2013 to teach seventh grade and 11th grade social studies. He was hired under a provisional teaching contract, which under state law can be terminated without going through the extensive steps required to terminate the contract of a person with a certificated teaching contract. Near the end of the 2013-14 school year, then Superintendent Ouick served Frazier with a notice that he made a determination not to renew his contract. Quick stated in the notice that his decision was made due to Frazier’s lack of daily lesson plans, failure to attend staff meetings and his unwillingness to acknowledge the need to change his performance.

Pursuant to state law, Frazier was allowed an informal meeting with Supt. Ouick to seek reconsideration. During the meeting, Judge Rawson found that Frazier became “belligerent and began yelling at the Superintendent” and “wagging his finger in Superintendent Ouick’s face” and “Mr. Frazier’s yelling could be heard outside of the superintendent’s office” by office staff.

After the informal meeting, Quick provided a written report to the Oroville School District recommending that Frazier’s contract not be renewed. The recommendation of non-renewal was considered at a school board meeting and the school board voted unanimously to not renew the teacher’s contact.

Frazier contended throughout the legal proceedings that he prepared proper lesson plans. Judge Rawson noted that Dr. Debra Howard, the school district’s expert witness, reviewed all of the documents that Frazier claimed were daily lesson plans. Rawson further noted that Dr. Howard testified that none of the documents produced by the social studies teacher were daily lesson plans.

Rawson found that Supt. Quick “made a good faith determination that the provisional teaching certificate of Ryan Frazier should not be renewed.” Judge Rawson also said in his ruling: “The decision to not renew Ryan Frazier’s provisional contract was based on performance issues in the classroom and was not based upon any misconduct.”

After spending the last 11 years in the Oroville School District, first as the high school principal, then as superintendent, Quick took over the duties of superintendent of Harney County School District in Burns, Ore. at the beginning of the 2016 school year.

 

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.