Without using an attorney, former Harvard school psychologist Peter Koehn won reversal of the dismissal of a suit concerning his termination by Harvard Unit School District 50.
Then-Superintendent Lauri Tobias is listed as the lead defendant. Judges William Bauer, John Daniel Tinder and David Hamilton rendered the decision.
At the Federal Circuit Court level, the school district was granted a summary judgment in its favor.
Here is the Federal Court Court of Appeals decision:
Peter Koehn was fired from his tenured position as a school psychologist for Harvard Community Unit School District 50 in Harvard, Illinois. Koehn’s discharge came soon after he criticized curriculum changes for students receiving special-education services, but the Office of Civil Rights for the United States Department of Education was unable to substantiate Koehn’s claim of retaliation.
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* After examining the briefs and record, we have concluded that oral argument is unnecessary. Thus the appeal is submitted on the briefs and record. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2).
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He sued the members of the District 50 school board, the district’s superintendent, and a school principal under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that he was discharged without procedural due process and in retaliation for engaging in protected speech.
The district court granted summary judgment for the District 50 defendants, and Koehn appeals. (Koehn also sued an employee of the Illinois State Board of Education, but she prevailed on a motion to dismiss and is not party to this appeal.)
Although we uphold the adverse ruling on Koehn’s claim that his discharge violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, we conclude that a jury reasonably could find from the evidence of record that Koehn was fired on account of his speech.
And since the defendants have not pursued, for purposes of this appeal, their contention that Koehn’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment, we vacate the grant of summary judgment on the retaliation claim and remand for further proceedings.
Because this appeal arises from a dismissal at summary judgment, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to Koehn, the non-moving party. See Taylor-Novotny v. Health Alliance Med. Plans, Inc., 772 F.3d 478, 488 (7th Cir. 2014).
For the most part the facts are not in dispute.
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