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Rodger Hartnett, the former San Diego County Office of Education employee who sued the agency for wrongful termination, said he was turned away from the agency today when he tried to return to work. A judge ruled last week that Hartnett should be reinstated and given back pay because of problems with the process leading to his termination.

Hartnett said he came to work in a coat and tie with the ruling in his hand, but was told by the human resources director that she had no direction to give him work. “So I stood up and said, ‘Well, have a good day,’” Hartnett said.

Hartnett, who formerly worked for the Risk Management Joint Powers Authority, a public agency run through the County Office of Education that handles lawsuits for school districts, claimed in his lawsuit that he was fired for complaining that one firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, received a disproportionate share of legal work “based on personal relationships” in the office rather than merit. He was terminated in 2007.

A judge ruled last week that Hartnett should be reinstated and given back pay because his termination was not done properly. He did not give an opinion on the issues Hartnett had raised.

I’ve asked Jim Esterbrooks, the spokesman for the County Office of Education, to let me know how it interprets the ruling, and what action it takes. I’ll give you the news as soon as I get it.

EMILY ALPERT

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