Dayton Public Schools loses third ruling vs. union in health insurance case

Dayton Public Schools recently lost an appeals court ruling about the health insurance eligibility of certain teachers’ family members, in a dispute dating back three years and multiple hearings.

In 2015, as DPS was preparing to change its health insurance offerings, the district and a vendor ran a dependent verification audit to ensure everyone receiving benefits was properly qualified, according to documents from Ohio’s Second District Court of Appeals.

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The Dayton Education Association union supported that effort, citing expected savings to members who were rightly insured. According to court documents, DPS dropped coverage for 571 dependents as a result of the audit and estimated that the move could save $2.75 million.

After those union members were informed in January 2016 that their dependents were no longer covered by the district’s health plan, the union filed a grievance on behalf of seven members. An arbitrator sided with the union in six of those cases, saying those six “shall recover all economic losses proximately caused by the board’s removal of their insurance coverage,” according to court records.

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Union President David Romick said Monday that the issue for the association wasn’t the idea of the audit itself but how the coverage changes were implemented. Then there was the issue of damages.

“The first ruling, our point was that the dependents’ eligibility needed to be restored,” Romick said. “As time went on and appeals were being filed, we’ve got dependents out there without insurance, so costs were becoming a factor.”

Neither Dayton Public Schools officials, nor attorney Brian Wildermuth, who represented DPS, immediately responded to requests for comment.

DPS challenged the February 2017 arbitration ruling in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, and Judge Richard Skelton ruled in favor of the union in October 2017. Then the district challenged that ruling in Ohio’s Second District Court of Appeals, which issued a 2-1 ruling in favor of the union on Oct. 26.

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Romick said Monday it is still possible the school district will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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