Teacher to have case heard after controversial dismissal

A high school teacher who was dismissed for alleged misconduct, and then shown an inundation of impassioned support by students and parents, has been placed back on paid leave and should have his day in court in September.

In March, longtime Aragon High School teacher Bill Faustine was removed from his post as psychology, engineering and physics teacher by the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees.

Though district officials remained mum on the details of the case, Faustine said at the time the complaints stemmed from comments he made in an honors class during a section on the psychology of sex.

The district will meet with the teacher for a mandatory settlement hearing on Aug. 1, said David Weintraub, Faustine’s attorney. Faustine said the district may choose to offer him a settlement at that time.

District Superintendent David Miller would not confirm that a settlement hearing was scheduled, stating that he would not comment on personnel matters.

Immediately after the dismissal, Faustine and Weintraub said they had appealed the decision and planned to take the case to a three-person panel in an attempt to clear Faustine’s name. The panel would consist of one teacher chosen by the district, one chosen by Faustine and an administrative law judge. The hearing was to be held in May.

But according to Weintraub, the district asked for a postponement of the hearing, which Faustine agreed to only on the condition that the district begin paying him again, which Weintraub said the district agreed to.

Dozens of his students, former students and their parents participated in a rally outside the district meeting in March, and some students have continued to wear T-shirts and buttons supporting the teacher they say is innocent.

Former Faustine student Addie Lefczik, who was in his engineering and technology class this year and just graduated, said students will plan another rally at the settlement hearing.

“I really hope he gets his job back because I know he likes teaching and he’s a good teacher and he’s definitely positively influenced a lot of people’s lives,” she said.

Nonetheless, she said she would understand if he chose to settle with the district and retire early.

“I could understand if he doesn’t want to come back to a school that has done this to him,” she said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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