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Ripon Unified spends upwards of $300,000 to get rid of Messick
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RIPON - It has been more than a week since a state administrative law hearing panel began deliberations on Ripon Unified School District music teacher Terri Messick – determining whether she should be relieved of her position for failing to take the culturally supported CLAD classes.

It was suspected that a decision would come down last Monday, but that did not happen. The CLAD classes are designed to sensitize teachers to the needs of limited-English-speaking or non English-speaking students.

The case, that has run its course over some eight years, first saw an administrative law panel finding in Messick’s favor.  An appeal by the school district argued against the panel’s decision and found against Messick’s stand.  Ripon Unified School District is estimated to have spent as much as $300,000 in its effort to dismiss Messick.

The latest three-member panel heard witnesses speak against the veteran 29-year teacher who had an overwhelming amount of support from former students and members of the community.  A “Save Mrs. Messick” Facebook page received more than 800 hits in support of her.

Messick had already been pink-slipped in March with cutbacks in the budget since she had the lesser seniority of the two oldest music teachers in the district.  She had stood up against former Ripon Unified Superintendent Leo Zuber since 2002 when she was first told to take the CLAD classes that she reportedly felt would be ineffective in the music department.

Zuber spent a day and a half on the witness stand during the beginning of the hearing where Messick was referred to twice as being unfit to be a teacher at Ripon High School.  The outcome of the hearing is expected to serve as a test case for other California teachers up and down the state whose refusal to take similar classes might cost them their jobs if the panel votes against Messick.