Follow-up: Terminated instructor continues fight to clear the record

By: Jyllian Roach, Editor-In-Chief | Photo By: Jonathan Gamboa

Former Full-time History Instructor Steve Cormier said that he may have lost the arbitration for his case, but he will continue to fight to set the record straight.

The now retired instructor has filed a grievance against the arbitrator for gross negligence in the deci­sion, he said.

The arbitration deci­sion, issued in October, 2012, sided with CNM and found Cormier responsible in accusations that he used excessive force against Part-time SAGE instructor Cheryl Brown in November, 2011, said Cormier.

Cormier has con­tended since a com­plaint was filed that he treated Brown gently and respectfully, he said.

“I gave 22 years of my life to something and it’s just ripped out from me based on false charges,” he said.

Cormier’s griev­ance with the arbitra­tor centers on the find­ings, which is based on the specific language used by witnesses to the event.

The Arbitrators Grievance Board could find the arbitrator neg­ligent, which could result in disciplinary action for the arbi­trator, but would not reverse the decision.

“It’s over. My career is over,” said Cormier.

The arbitrator Elvis C. Stephens stated in his written deci­sion, which was pro­vided to the Chronicle by Cormier, that he believed the testi­mony of the eleven eyewitnesses to be unreliable because they were either friends of Cormier or members of the CNM Employee’s Union.

A phone call to Stephens’ office was not returned.

“In my many years as an arbitrator (first case in 1972) I have often found statements from witnesses which appear to have been ‘slanted’ in order to favor one point of view – usually to put the grievant in a more favorable light,” said Stephens in the decision.

The decision stated that Stephens mulled over whether Cormier gently led Brown by the arm, as some witness state, or grabbed her by the arm, as other put it.

The decision also includes Brown’s ver­sion of events, in which Cormier was combative and grabbed her arm hard enough to crush the soft tissue there.

A crushed soft tissue injury is “the result of the body or a body part being force­fully compressed between two hard sur­faces. Compression of the muscle mass blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues (isch­emia), resulting in tissue death (necrosis) within a few hours,” according to webMD.com.

No evidence of medical attention or on-going trauma was given during the arbi­tration, said Cormier.

Brown did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Stephens further found that CNM was not out of compliance when administration members refused to turn over any evi­dence, including knowledge of another witness, discovered during their investi­gation, because the contract asks only that the parties make on a good-faith effort to exchange information.

This was the first case in his memory in which CNM refused to exchange all evidence in a case, said Cormier.

The grievance against Stephens was filed on Dec. 5, 2012, but no decision had been made as of this printing.

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One response to “Follow-up: Terminated instructor continues fight to clear the record

  1. Pingback: CNM Violates Its Student Newspaper’s First Amendment Rights | New Mexico Compass·

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