Celynda Brasher and Margaret Hesse Win Eighth Circuit Decision, Uphold Firm’s Prior Victory Defending Missouri School District’s Student Discipline Decision

Feb 16, 2005

Tueth Keeney attorneys Celynda Brasher and Margaret Hesse recently successfully defended its prior victory in United States District Court, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a lower Court decision in favor of the Wentzville R-IV School District. The Appeals Court’s decision affirming the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the School District on all of the Federal and Constitutional claims filed by three former District cheerleaders, and their parents, again upholds the District’s decision to suspend three varsity cheerleaders for being under the influence of alcohol on School District property.  

The Plaintiffs originally brought a thirteen-count lawsuit against the Wentzville School District, and various individual Defendants. The Plaintiffs’ claims arose out of disciplinary action taken by the District for violations of the District’s Discipline Code and Student Code of Conduct, and the investigation leading to such action. The students and their parents brought claims against the District and individual administrators and teachers, alleging violations of liberty and due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as state law claims of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and defamation.

On February 16, 2005, the Eighth Circuit panel filed its opinion affirming the dismissal of all claims filed in United States District Court against the Wentzville R-IV School District by three of the District’s former students and their parents. The Eighth Circuit agreed with Tueth Keeney’s legal arguments and held that the School District presented sufficient evidence to soundly defeat all of Plaintiffs”™ Federal and Constitutional claims at the summary judgment stage. In addition, the Court characterized the Plaintiffs”™ argument that the high school principal was unconstitutionally biased as “frivolous,” and stated that the Court “would be loath” to accept Plaintiffs”™ argument in this case, as it would result in frivolous lawsuits being filed against school officials.

Firm Attorneys Celynda L. Brasher, Margaret A. Hesse, and Phyleccia B. Reed represented the Wentzville School District and the individual District Defendants in their defense of this suit in Federal Court and on Appeal.

Celynda L. Brasher practices in the areas of education, labor and employment law. She represents school districts in employment and termination matters, student rights and discipline, special education, school finance, civil rights, contracts, church/state issues, and Hancock Amendment challenges. She represents public and private employers in discrimination defense, union organization, unemployment compensation, wage/hour compliance and terminations. Celynda has litigation experience in state and federal courts and administrative agencies.

Margaret Hesse primarily practices in the areas of education law, employment law and litigation. She has represented school districts in employment matters, including Title VII, the Safe Schools Act, Title IX, and the Equal Pay Act. She has represented employers in labor matters before the United States Department of Labor/Wage and Hour Division and the Illinois Commission of Human Rights.

Missouri Education – The law firm of Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. (the “Firm”), has one of the largest and most successful education law groups in the country. The Firm regularly serves the legal counsel needs of approximately 150 school districts throughout Missouri. The Firm also has one of the largest school law practices in Central and Southern Illinois.