By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The federal court in Aberdeen issued a judgment Wednesday in favor of the Booneville School District in a lawsuit brought by former special education teacher Kathy Anderson Lamb.
Lamb filed the lawsuit saying that her free speech rights were violated and also that she was fired because of her age.
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock ruled in favor of the school district based on courtroom and deposition testimony, as well as the content of several e-mails.
With regard to the free speech allegation, Lamb said that she was fired primarily because of the stance she took against using corporal punishment on an autistic child.
Courtroom testimony offered by the school principal, special education director and district superintendent, however, was that Lamb displayed unprofessional behavior by “yelling and condemning” another teacher in front of a classroom of students.
This incident, they testified, followed another incident in which Lamb violated school policy and the two incidents together resulted in the nonrenewal of her contract.
Aycock wrote in her ruling that Lamb’s speech in her job as a teacher was not protected speech, as opposed to if she had been speaking as a private individual.
With regard to the age discrimination complaint, Aycock wrote that when the school district hired Lamb five months before her contract was not renewed, she was already in the class of workers over 40 who are protected by age discrimination laws. Therefore it was not reasonable to assume the district would have hired someone in the age-protected group then fired the same employee based on age.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.