Zoll v Eastern Allamakee by HC121007031241


									                                        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

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