By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A Burns teacher dismissed for violating the school’s policies on bullying and intimidating students while disciplining his daughter on school property was properly removed from his job, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The court on Thursday upheld the removal of Marvin Mirich, rejecting his arguments that there should be an exception to the school’s harassment, intimidation and bullying policy when his actions involved disciplining his daughter.
“Mr. Mirich does not identify any evidence showing he was entitled to an exception and we found no such evidence in the record,” said the opinion, written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden.
According to the ruling, Mirich was a full-time teacher at Laramie County School District No. 2 who taught physical education and coached track at Burns Junior/Senior High School.
The ruling said on March 9, 2018, Mirich was speaking with his daughter, identified as JM, about her poor performance on an obstacle course at track practice the night before. The opinion said his daughter called Mirich an obscene name and after the incident was believed by fellow students to be crying.
Mirich later went to his daughter’s classroom and asked to speak with his daughter. She joined him in a hallway of the school, where a video showed they argued. As JM began to walk away from her father, he grabbed the hood of her sweatshirt and pulled her backwards, leading her to fall.
When JM got up, Mirich backed her into lockers and “twice appeared to bump her back into the lockers when she attempted to move away.” Later, Mirich took his daughter into an empty classroom, where he could be heard yelling and using profanity, the opinion said.
The district superintendent recommended Mirich be dismissed for violating the district’s “harassment, intimidation and bulling” policies and a hearing officer who reviewed the case recommended the same.
The recommendations also accused Mirich of violating the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board’s Professional Conduct Guide, in part by using profanity.
Mirich, in his appeal, argued he did not violate the school’s policies because in part “the incident involved his daughter and he acted as her parent.”
But justices said the policies apply equally to all students.
Justices also said Mirich’s use of profanity violated the Professional Conduct Guide even though he was speaking to his daughter and not other students.
“The evidence, however, reflects that JM was a Burns High student and that Mr. Mirich used the profanity on campus, during school hours, while being paid as a teacher,” the opinion said. “Mr. Mirich points to no evidence of a teacher-parent exception.
As a result, the district’s school board had sufficient evidence to support its decision to dismiss Mirich, the opinion said.
“The board had before it substantial evidence of ‘any other good or just cause relating to the educational process’ to justify its decision dismissing Mr. Mirich,” it said.