NYSUT: State Law Prohibits Schools From Discussing Criminal Charges Against Teachers

JAMESTOWN – A spokesman for the New York State Teacher’s Union (NYSUT) said it is against the law for a superintendent to publicly discuss personnel issues even if it involves a teacher being charged with a crime.

The union’s comments about the due process owed to teachers with at least four years of service, comes days after Eric W. Sohl, a teacher employed by the Jamestown Public School District,was charged with stalking.
“Everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial hearing if they are charged with wrongdoing,”said Carl Corn, Spokesman for NYSUT.

Eric W. Sohl

“The union has no stake in protecting anyone who harms childrens or who tarnishes the profession,”Corn said.
The Jamestown Public School District said in a statement to WNY News Now that they can not and will not comment on Sohl’s pending criminal case.
“The District was advised that a district employee was recently arrested,” said Cathy Panebianco. “We are looking into this matter, but the District does not and will not comment on personnel matters involving district employees.”
Court records indicate that Sohl has had at least one brush with the law previous to last week’s arrest.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said Sohl led police on a vehicle pursuit in February of 2016, and was charged with DWI and reckless driving.
Corn, who did not comment on Sohl’s case specifically, said that repeat offenders, with more than four years of teaching service, may be terminated if they’re convicted more than once.
“We’ve had hearing officers say, in the event of a subsequent offense or a repeat offense, if a teacher is convicted, they will be terminated,”said Corn.
Corn reiterated his example was a “hypothetical” one and said that every case is different.
“Since we are not dealing with the facts I can not give you specifics,” said Corn when asked if all teachers who have been arrested multiple times are likely to be terminated.
A Town Clerk in Harmony said Sohl was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday but could not provide any further details about his case.
WNYNewsNow has learned that there is a stay-away order from a female victim in his most recent misdemeanor stalking case.
We have been unable to confirm if the district corresponded with parents about Sohl’s arrest.
According to NYSUT, superintendents in the past have notified parents when a teacher in their child’s school was arrested.
“That’s one of the things that a superintendent can do,” said Corn.