Temple City Teacher Gets Her Job Back

Times Staff Writer

Two years after losing her job as a kindergarten teacher, Karen Gradin Stewart will return to the Temple City Unified School District as a first-grade teacher at La Rosa School this fall, according to Bill Schmidt, district director of personnel. Stewart's husband, Steve, also a district teacher, confirmed that she had accepted the position.

Stewart taught kindergarten at Longden Elementary School during 1982-83 but was not rehired the following year on grounds that she had falsely claimed illness for a day spent on a camping trip. Stewart, then Karen Gradin, later explained that she had been spending the weekend with Steve Stewart when he became ill. Both teachers called in sick.

Steve Stewart said that his wife, who was scheduled to receive tenure, was notified Feb. 25, 1983, that she would not be rehired. She requested a Public Employment Relations Board hearing, which concluded that her claim of illness was merely an error in judgment and recommended that she be rehired.

However, the Temple City Board of Education voted three weeks later not to rehire Stewart, despite the recommendation. Stewart took her case to Los Angeles Superior Court where the district's decision not to rehire her was upheld. Stewart appealed and a three-judge appelate court panel unanimously voted to overturn the Superior Court ruling.

Supreme Court Rejects Case

According to Schmidt, the district asked the California Supreme Court to review the appelate court decision but the request was denied.

Steve Stewart said that before his wife was rehired, she filed a $10.5-million claim against the school district for punitive and compensatory damages.

Her attorney, Patricia Coleman, said the school district has rejected the claim but that Stewart would proceed with the litigation.

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