Kalispell Educ. Ass’n v. Bd. of Trustees, Kalispell High Sch. Dist.

In the fall of 2008 William Hartford, a high school science teacher, was fired after his Montana teaching certificate expired by his inadvertence in failing to renew it. Hartford sought to file a grievance, alleging that he had been terminated without just cause in violation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) entered into between Kalispell School District (District) and the Kalispell Education Association (KEA). The district superintendent, and later the board of trustees, denied Hartford's request, claiming the matter did not constitute a valid grievance under the CBA on grounds that Hartford was not a member of the bargaining unit at any point during his employment in the fall of 2008 and that he was not a "teacher" as defined under Montana law during his employment in the fall of 2008. Hartford and the KEA filed a petition in the district court to compel arbitration as provided in the CBA. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Hartford and the KEA and ordered the matter submitted to arbitration. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that the questions raised by the matter were properly submitted to arbitration.