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WILSON – An appellate court ruled unanimously Friday that Heather Alessi, a former Wilson High School Spanish teacher whose job was eliminated in 2011, must be rehired with back pay and benefits.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court said Alessi improperly lost seniority credit in a confused situation over a lapse in her teaching credentials. She was laid off in a budget cut in 2011 because she was deemed the least senior foreign language teacher.

However, she was denied seniority credit for her work between November 2006 and February 2010 because, even though she was granted tenure in 2009, Alessi failed her first attempt at a mandatory Spanish test required for her permanent teaching certificate.

The district forced her to resign her full-time job in October 2009, but Alessi was immediately rehired as a full-time substitute. She passed the mandatory Spanish test two months later, received her permanent certificate in February 2010, and was rehired to a full-time teaching job which she held until the budget cut.