February 25, 2018

High School Librarian Improperly Fired

By Debra Lau

A former high school media specialist was improperly fired for using a school
library computer to access sexually explicit Web sites and is entitled to back
pay and benefits, according to a due process hearing officer.

The Arkansas City (KS) school district terminated Arkansas City High School
Librarian Robert Hicks on April 9, 2001, for inappropriate use of the Internet.
But in a 30-page opinion issued April 12, hearing officer Timothy Fielder said
the district failed to show Hicks’s use was inappropriate or that it violated
school policy or even state law, according to the Arkansas City Traveler. “It is
also apparent that Mr. Hicks’s use of the Internet at school to access ‘X-rated’
sites ceased approximately a year prior to” his suspension in November 2000,”
Fielder wrote. Hicks said he visited those sites to “determine ease of access by
students to X-rated sites because there were no filters in place.”

Fielder also found no evidence that Hicks was responsible for students’ lack
of use of the library and cited a police report that said he did not present a
physical threat to the superintendent or others at the school.