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Long-term sub wins unemployment battle with Harwood Union

A judge has ruled that a long-term Harwood Union substitute and volunteer, who lost his job this spring, cannot be denied unemployment compensation based on the administration’s contention that he was fired for misconduct.

The judge, chief administrative law judge Ileen McGurran, found that Harwood’s claim that Douglas Jaquette was fired for misconduct was not supported by the evidence. She ruled that he was entitled to the maximum number of weeks of unemployment compensation versus the reduced number of weeks for being fired for misconduct.

Jaquette has been a substitute teacher and a volunteer in the athletics department for 20 years. When not subbing, he volunteers to assist coaches with data entry and other clerical duties.

Per Harwood protocol, when subbing, Jaquette was required to wear an ID badge. When volunteering, he was to sign in at the office and receive and wear a yellow visitor’s pass. The school had duplicate copies of the yellow visitors’ passes, but threw away the booklet that contained the duplicates, McGurran explained in her findings of fact.

Last October, via email, Harwood Union notified Jaquette and John Kerrigan, of the coaching staff, to follow up on a meeting that had been held the day before. The email outlined when Jaquette would be doing volunteer work and noted, “If the agreement was not followed, the claimant would be asked to do the volunteer work offsite.”

On April 5 of this year, Harwood Union’s facilities director Ray Daigle saw Jaquette in the building allegedly without an ID badge or visitor’s pass. Daigle asked then associate principal Lisa Atwood for assistance and she determined that Jaquette had not been asked for help by the volunteer coordinator. But later that day Jaquette had been asked to come back to the school as a sub and at that time showed his ID badge.

On April 18, Jaquette was in the building to do some work for Kerrigan. Daigle, who saw no ID badge or visitor’s pass, told him if he were not subbing he’d have to leave. Atwood asked Jaquette to leave and left him a message telling him not to report to work as a sub on April 19 as he’d planned.

The judge found that Harwood had not demonstrated that Jaquette was fired because he was in the building without proper ID and that he had violated expectations of when he was to be in the building as a volunteer because on April 5 he had a substitute teacher ID and was not asked for his volunteer badge. Additionally, she found that Harwood could not verify where he had a valid volunteer pass for April 18 because the school had thrown away the duplicate copy.

Finally, she ruled that Harwood had not followed its agreement with Jaquette that he would have to do his volunteer work offsite if he failed to follow the conditions they had agreed upon.

Harwood has 30 days from the August 27 decision to appeal.

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