Former middle school math teacher Neal Erickson is currently serving 15-30 years in a state prison for his crimes, but that reportedly hasn’t stopped the Michigan Education Association from pushing the courts to mandate that the school give him his $10,000 severance buyout.
Erickson worked at Rose City Middle School for several years, until state police began conducting an investigation into his activities in October 2012, during which he was placed on paid administrative leave. According to EAG News, Erickson was charged with criminal sexual conduct in December 2012, and plead guilty to first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in May of the following year.
The union’s argument in favor of the $10,000 buyout stems from a policy Erickson’s school district had implemented in 2012. According to Town Hall, the district had offered a “$10,000 buyout for any qualifying teacher who left the school district that year, an incentive superintendent Dan Cwayna said the district had used in the past to encourage needed staff reductions.” The teacher’s union claims that Erickson was offered this buyout during his investigation and he accepted it, but the district declined to give him the money after his conviction.
The $10,000 buyouts were allotted to teachers in two separate payments, and Cwayna noted that the union acted immediately upon discovering Erickson had not been paid.
“When the first payment was sent out ... and the union discovered we did not make the payment to Mr. Erickson, they filed a grievance on his behalf,” Cwayna said.
The union has since filed for arbitration, but has otherwise refused to comment on the case. It’s likely that the union either was not aware of Erickson’s crimes when they initially filed the grievance, or they are simply acting upon their principals of obtaining the money that they believe their members deserve.
Regardless of the union’s intentions, the families of Erickson’s victims are outraged that the former teacher is receiving any sympathy or monetary compensation from the school.
“It’s completely ludicrous! Are they nuts in the head? How can the union file a grievance and back a child molester? We’re very upset about it,” John Janczeweski, the father of Erickson’s victim, whom he molested throughout a span of three years, said.
Janczeweski explained that he believed the school would be directing its money to the wrong individual.
“If anything, that money should go to my son, who is out there trying to make it in this world all messed up,” Janczeweski said.