The Ken Hinton and Thomas Broderick allegations fell flat, but Mary Davis is still on the hook for the activity fund improprieties. Rumor on the blog is that Mary Davis is allegedly suing District 150 for racial discrimination. I can't see what the basis for that suit would be, sounds frivolous considering Davis seemed to have had a fairly progressive career at the District.
Do taxpayers have the right to want the District to try and recoup all the money they lost on this case from McArdle? What do you think? From pjstar...
Former Lindbergh principal's lawsuit thrown out
Julie McCardle can't sue over firing on whistle-blower basis, federal judge rules
A federal judge this week has thrown out a two-year-old lawsuit brought by the former principal of Lindbergh Middle School, saying District 150 didn't violate her Constitutional rights when they fired her in April 2009.
At issue was whether the act of Julie McArdle, a first-year principal at Lindbergh - blowing the whistle on a former administrator who is now criminally charged with taking money - considered protected speech under the First Amendment.
Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm said no, that McArdle was acting in her capacity as a principal when she learned of alleged misuse of money by her predecessor Mary Davis.
It matters because established federal precedent holds "a public employee is not speaking as a private citizen for First Amendment purposes when the employee makes statements pursuant to their official duties."
In his 15-page order handed down Tuesday, Mihm wrote reviewing accounts and spending at a school is the job of a principal and thus, the speech wasn't protected. Additionally, McArdle reported the allegations only after she was notified that her contract would be terminated a year early.
In her suit, McArdle claims the district retaliated against her and tried to prevent her from telling others about the theft allegations.
Her attorney, Richard Steagall of Peoria, disagreed with the order and indicated his client would likely appeal.
"It's our position that theft of public funds is always an issue of public concern and as such, speech should always be protected," he said, adding McArdle had discovered discrepancies in October 2008 but didn't know what she had until she approached him after being informed of the district's desire to fire her.
Peter Jennetten, the district's attorney, said he was pleased with the decision. Claims against former superintendent Ken Hinton and former human resources director Thomas Broderick were dropped by McArdle after deposed testimony from both made it clear they didn't believe her when she came to them with the allegations, Steagall said.
District 150 School Board President Debbie Wolfmeyer said she was "happy the judge looked at the facts in the case and found that the district handled the situation correctly - and glad that justice fell in favor of the school district."
Former School Board member Mary Spangler also praised the ruling and the decision to fire McArdle, noting the district was closing two primary schools at the time and there were "extra" principals, "We didn't know anything about any of that stuff, until afterwards."
The "stuff" Spangler referred to was the allegations Davis took money several times between 2005 and 2007 while principal at Charles Lindbergh Middle School. Davis, 52, of Dunlap has since been indicted on 16 felony counts of official misconduct and theft.
Her case is set for trial later this summer. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
While Lindbergh's principal, Davis allegedly made credit card purchases, many not appearing to be school-related, on a Sam's Club Discover credit card carrying Lindbergh school's name. Among other allegations is a $4,002.05 payment transferred from the school's activity fund to the Discover card used by Davis.