Board of education upholds Fischer firing
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education has upheld the district’s decision to fire Matt Fischer, a Soldotna physical education teacher who was let go in December following a years-long insurance dispute. At a public hearing Tuesday afternoon, the school board voted unanimously to affirm Fischer’s termination.
Fischer, a long-time Skyview Middle School teacher, was injured in a car accident seven years ago, and received a large insurance settlement from the other driver. Fischer says he told the school district about that settlement at the time, but the district says it never got that notice and also paid out a claim for Fischer’s medical bills, around $164,000.
The district asked to be reimbursed for that payout but Fischer said he was unable to pay it back. After a judge decided he did, in fact, owe the money, plus interest, he agreed. But the district refused the money, and asked instead for his resignation and a portion of the payment — before ultimately firing him late last year.
Fischer appealed. At the appeal hearing Tuesday, the board of education was given a nine-page packet with the district’s grounds for firing, and was not allowed to consider any other evidence or ask Fischer any questions. The public was not allowed to comment.
In that packet, signed by the district’s Human Resources Director Nate Crabtree, the district lays out its reasons for terminating Fisher. It notes he breached his contract because he didn’t hold the payout in a trust or immediately reimburse the district. The district also alleges Fischer used the borough’s money inappropriately, including on multiple vacations and home improvements.
The letter also said Fischer’s comments to the district throughout the dispute were at times contradictory or misleading.
The nine-member board voted quickly and without discussion, deciding unanimously to uphold Fischer’s firing. A couple members of the board mentioned it was a difficult decision; one board member was absent for the vote.
Fischer now has 15 days to tell the district if he wants to move to the arbitration process, which he has said he plans to do. This means a neutral third-party will review both sides and make a decision that will be final and binding.