Part 5 – Harvard School Psychologist Wins 7th Circuit Reversal of Wrongful Termination Suit Dismissal

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.

Koehn appealed.

Here is more of the Federal Court Court of Appeals decision:

Days later, on November 2, Principal Segersten recommended that the school board issue Koehn a notice of remedial warning for “unprofessional and insubordinate conduct.”

Segersten’s recommendation prompted Koehn to send an e-mail on November 3 to every District 50 board member and employee accusing her of trying to “besmirch” his professional reputation and retaliating because he had shared with the Illinois State Board of Education his

“serious allegations about her conduct as it relates to special education rights of many students and their parents.”

The school board approved Segersten’s recommendation.

Koehn was warned to communicate with administrators and staff in a “professional, respectful and appropriate manner,” to report his absences promptly, and to modify the way he completed written evaluations of students in special education.

Koehn did not relent about Principal Segersten’s revisions to special education programming at the junior high, and during November and December 2010 he continued rallying support to reverse those changes.

In mid-November he spoke out at a meeting attended not only by District 50 special education staff but also the Principal Education Consultant he had contacted at the Illinois State Board of Education in October.

At work Koehn also reviewed confidential student files and wrote letters and e-mails to Segersten and the school board.

Later that month Segersten accused Koehn of not properly reporting his absences and told him not to use work resources to further his effort at overturning her changes.

Then a week later, on December 7, Superintendent Tobias instructed Koehn to attend a second investigatory meeting with her and Segersten.

That meeting was rescheduled 13 times because, by the defendants’ admission, Koehn was ill and missed almost three weeks of school.

The meeting eventually occurred on January 18, 2011.

Six days later Superintendent Tobias recommended that the school board fire Koehn.


Comments

Part 5 – Harvard School Psychologist Wins 7th Circuit Reversal of Wrongful Termination Suit Dismissal — 1 Comment

  1. Interesting case.

    It’s helpful to follow all applicable school board policies along with state and Federal law, and to be polite, and to consider image, when dissenting with government monopoly bureaucratic school districts about any issue.

    The school district has lots of time and money to fight dissenters.

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