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Zoll v. Eastern Allamakee Community School District United States Courts Of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 1978. 588 F. 2d 246 Jeannie Blane Facts: This case for reinstatement and back pay arose out of the non-renewal of a public school teacher’s contract. Mrs. Rose Zoll brought suit against the Eastern Allamakee Community School District, the school board, superintendent and elementary principal, alleging she was denied renewal of her contract in retaliation for her exercise of First Amendment rights. A jury verdict was rendered and judgment entered in favor of Mrs. Zoll and against the superintendent and elementary principal. The jury did not find the school district or school board members liable. The district court ordered that the school board reinstate Mrs. Zoll and that the superintendent and elementary principal compensate her for back pay up to the date of trial and attorney’s fees and expenses. The superintendent and elementary principal appealed from the denial of their motion for a directed verdict and the overruling of their objection to a jury instruction. Mrs. Zoll cross-appeals for an extension in the back pay period and an increase in the attorney’s fee award. Procedure: On Dec. 15, 1975, Mrs. Zoll filed suit against Mr. Pronga, Mr. Fuhrman, and the four board members who voted not to renew her contract, alleging that they had refused to renew her teaching contract in retaliation for her exercise of First Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. (1970) Issue: Was her reduction in force done in good faith? Was she denied renewal of her contract because she exercised her right to free speech.( First Amendment) Decision: We affirm the entry of judgment of liability on the jury verdict and the reinstatement directive and remand to the district court for reconsideration of the post-trial back pay issue and the attorney’s fee award. Rationale: Under the staff reduction policy which the board had adopted in December 1974, teachers laid off were granted “recall rights” for a three -year period. Three vacancies arose during the year following Mrs. Zoll’s termination. Instead of recalling Mrs. Zoll, they hired two new teachers and transferred one from another building. The jury could reasonably have believed that the subjective rating of Mrs. Zoll by the administration was a pretext for discharging her for exercising her First Amendment.
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