Margaret Hesse and Michelle Basi Win Summary Judgment In Favor Of Missouri School District and Principal in Student Discipline Issue

Apr 20, 2005

Tueth Keeney attorneys Margaret Hesse and Michelle Basi recently obtained summary judgment on defamation claims brought against a St. Louis area school district, its Board members, and a high school principal in St. Louis County Circuit Court. A student and his parents brought the lawsuit after the student was expelled from the District when he engaged in conduct that the District contended violated its policy prohibiting bullying, sexual harassment, and vandalism. The student and his parents alleged, among other claims, that the school principal made defamatory statements to Board members and administrators, to officials from other schools where the student was seeking to enroll, and to parents at a parent meeting.

In granting summary judgment, the Court agreed with Tueth Keeney’s argument that the Plaintiffs failed to produce facts demonstrating that the principal or the members of the Board published any statements about the Plaintiffs. Because publication is a necessary element of defamation claims, the Plaintiffs”™ claims failed as a matter of law. Additionally, the Court agreed with Tueth Keeney’s argument that Plaintiffs failed to properly plead their claims for punitive damages, and that the Plaintiffs”™ claims for punitive damages failed as a matter of law. The Court entered judgment in favor of the School District Defendants, and against the Plaintiffs, on April 20, 2005.

Firm attorneys Margaret Hesse, Stephanie Tueth Reh, and Michelle Basi represented the School District before the District Court.

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.

Michelle Hammond Basi practices in the areas of school law, special education, school litigation, and labor and employment law. Michelle represents school districts throughout Missouri with respect to employment and termination matters, special education, Section 504, student discipline and student rights, civil rights, and church/state issues. Michelle has successfully represented school districts in student and employment matters before various federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including the EEOC, Missouri Commission on Human Rights, and the Office for Civil Rights. She is also a regular speaker at statewide and regional school law conferences.

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.