LINDEN, NJ – The state Supreme Court
upheld an arbitrator''s determination that a Linden High School
custodian was improperly fired for cleaning a classroom while it was being used as a changing area during a dance recital, according to NJ Today.
The Linden school board, represented by state Sen. Ray Lesniak''s law firm Weiner Lesniak
, was attempting to overturn the arbitrator''s decision that a 10-day unpaid suspension was an appropriate punishment for the offense, the article stated.
John Mizichko was working the night shift at the high school on May 5, 2005, and was assigned to clean classrooms; he had been informed that certain classrooms would be used as changing areas during a dance recital, the article noted.
At one point, Mizichko entered a classroom where female students were changing and stayed long enough to clean glass panes on the door before obeying a teacher''s instruction to leave, according to court documents.
According to the article, after conducting an investigation, the Linden Board of Education voted to fire Mizichko. The Linden Education Association
filed a grievance on his behalf, and the case went to arbitration where the arbitrator concluded that there was cause for discipline, but termination was too severe a penalty and imposed a 10-day suspension without pay.
The school board took the case to court to try to overturn the ruling, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded his authority, but the Superior Court ruled in Mizichko''s favor, so the board appealed the decision at the Appellate Division level, the article added.
The appeals court did rule in favor of the school board, but the state Supreme Court overturned that decision last week, the article concluded.