LONG CREEK - James Hixenbaugh will be reinstated to his teaching position at Long Creek High School after an arbitrator ruled he had been unlawfully terminated by the school board.
Hixenbaugh, along with Mike Wilson, both of whom had been teachers at Long Creek High School for three years, were pink-slipped at the end of the school year in June and filed for arbitration contesting their dismissals.
A two-day hearing was held in Pendleton on Aug. 21-22, and a decision was handed down Wednesday, Oct. 29, by the arbitrator which orders Hixenbaugh be returned to his former position at the school.
"Mike (Wilson) got a job teaching at a school in the Sweet Home area about a week before the hearing began, and he dropped his case against the school board, so it was just me at the arbitration hearing," Hixenbaugh said. "The whole thing was the board decided to keep four first-year teachers on staff and get rid of me and Mike. It doesn't take a genius to figure out they broke a lot of laws by doing that."
Under the arbitrator's ruling, the school board has 30 days to reinstate Hixenbaugh to his former teaching position at the school.
"The arbitrator will oversee the reinstatement process," Hixenbaugh said. "They can file for an extension of the 30-day period, like if they wanted to wait until the end of the semester, but either way the arbitrator will oversee the process, and I will get my job back."
The arbitrator also ruled Hixenbaugh will receive all of his back pay from the time he was terminated.
"It's just like I've been teaching all year," he said.
Hixenbaugh said he was happy to be returning to the school where he taught social studies including history and economics, as well as health and physical education.
He was also the head volleyball and head boys basketball coach at Long Creek, but said he has decided not to return to his coaching positions.
"What the school board has to figure out now is if they are going to lay off one of the teaches on staff when I go back to work," Hixenbaugh said. "They originally budgeted for seven teachers and they had nine before they laid Mike and me off. Then Kay Burnett quit so they decided to stay with six. They are going to decide at Tuesday's school board meeting whether they want to continue with six teachers or go with seven."
Long Creek Superintendent Lloyd Hartley said he expected Hixenbaugh's reinstatement on the staff should go smoothly.
"He was a good teacher and he got along well with everyone," Hartley said. "I don't anticipate any problems. What the school board is going to have to decide is whether we are going to keep seven teachers or just six like we have now. Obviously we will be bringing Jim back and if the school board decides to continue with six teachers, that will mean laying someone off."