Part of a wrongfultermination suit filed against the Scottsdale Unified School District has been dismissed, and another part may be affected by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The details were heard by members of the district governing board last week when they were updated on the lawsuit filed by Kim Cumby, the district’s former executive director of human resources.
Cumby filed the lawsuit in November 2005. She claimed her connection to former Superintendent Barbara Erwin and involvement in the high-profile investigation of former Sequoya Elementary School principal Maureen Booth, who resigned in 2003 amid allegations she changed students’ test scores, made her a target of three governing board members.
The suit also alleged Superintendent John Baracy was pressured by then-board president Christine Schild to fire Cumby. Cumby resigned effective June 30, 2005, after Baracy allegedly told her a change in the way contracts would be renewed made it unlikely the board would extend her contract, according to court documents. A court document filed by the district denied Cumby’s allegations.
In April, the court dismissed the claim that Cumby wasn’t given due process on the ability to renew her contract.
However, another part of the lawsuit may go on to a jury. Cumby’s claim stated that part of the reason she was under fire from the board was that she publicly corrected wrong information about the Booth case that was being spread by some board members. The First Amendment should have protected her in this instance, Cumby’s motion said.
But a recent Supreme Court decision that could be relevant to Cumby’s case might limit her ability to recover damages or knock out her claim altogether, Schild said.
That decision, Garcetti v. Ceballos, said the First Amendment doesn’t protect a public employee from an employer’s discipline if the speech is work related.