Saturday, March 01, 2014

School Districts Have Had Their Show Trials for Years

It's only when private outfits decide they want to pull their version of the same thing that it becomes controversial.

I know "reformers" are trying to get rid of these sham "due process hearings" in school districts (as a cost saving measure) by trying to con the public it's "impossible" to get rid of teachers, but sometimes teachers do win these things despite the long odds. It's usually those teachers who have access to outside lawyers who prevail or teachers who work in a handful of school districts in the country (for example, NYC) where they do have more "rights" to "due process" than teachers everywhere else in the country.

Private businesses want to be able to have and do have their own little star chambers, with unpublished rulings and closed hearings. Of course they aren't good because consumers' constitutional rights to due process are basically revoked.

Can judges in courts preside over trial-like proceedings in private? Many state constitutions (including Delaware’s) insist that all “courts shall be open.” The United States Constitution does not have those words, but the Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to a “speedy and public trial,” and civil and criminal litigants have rights to jury trials. Those provisions — with First Amendment rights to petition for redress and free speech, due process and English open court traditions — have produced a body of law mandating openness. Before a proceeding can be closed, judges need to make a record of what exceptional circumstances, such as trade secrets or national security, justify secrecy.

The reason arbitration is conducted the way it is has to do with the fact these hearings, including those involving "due process hearings" for teachers, aren't real legal proceedings. They have the trappings of legal proceedings, but the rules that apply to regular civil and criminal proceedings simply don't apply in arbitration.

If they were real legal proceedings, the lawyers and administrators involved in my "case" would have been thrown in jail instead of being allowed to still practice law or have their jobs.

In the case of the private sector, they are simply trying to get around being held legally accountable when they scam consumers or they injure them in some way. That's why the emphasis on "binding arbitration."

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